It’s a time-honored tradition that puts the ”lit” in ”politics”: Every four years, presidential aspirants pen self-promotional tomes. Who can forget Michael Dukakis’ ”Creating the Future”? Bob Dole and Jack Kemp’s ”Trusting the People”? Ross Perot’s ”My Life and the Principles for Success”? Okay, just about everybody. But that hasn’t stopped Republican front-runner George W. Bush from tossing his manuscript into the ring.
A Charge to Keep tries to be all things to all readers. This is no surprise coming from the man who coined the one-size-fits-all label ”compassionate conservative.” Cowritten with his communications director, Karen Hughes, the Texas governor’s pastiche mixes safe-as-milk stances (”I like people, and I am interested in learning more about them”) with warm-and-fuzzy recollections; a chapter called ”Reading: The New Civil Right” is followed by one on his marriage titled ”The Best Decision I Ever Made.” Tellingly, he doesn’t recount his life in chronological order, interspersing gubernatorial stories with earlier anecdotes in acknowledgment that the first 40-odd years of his privileged existence weren’t all that interesting.