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6 Degrees Entertainment

'American Experience: George W. Bush'
(2-Disc DVD / PG-13 / 2020 / PBS)

Overview: In this two-part, four-hour look at the life and presidency of George W. Bush, follow his unorthodox road to the presidency through the contested election of 2000, when a Supreme Court ruling resulted in his becoming the 43rd President.

The film chronicles the tumultuous events, domestically and internationally, that dominated Bush's eight years in office.

DVD Verdict: The latest in AMERICAN EXPERIENCE's award-winning series of presidential biographies, 'American Experience: George W. Bush' offers a dutiful look at the 43rd president, spread over four hours and two discs.

Perhaps inevitably, though, the omissions feel more significant than some of the material that's covered, and the steadfast focus on his presidency fails to shed much light on the man himself.

As aforementioned, 'American Experience: George W. Bush' chronicles the tumultuous events, domestically and internationally, that dominated Bush's eight years in office - including the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, the subsequent war in Iraq, the search for weapons of mass destruction, Hurricane Katrina, and the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression.

But, and again, as aforementioned, most of the biographical information sheds relatively little light on Bush as a person, other than the fairly well-worn questions about his relationship with his father, having "felt overlooked and underappreciated" when George H.W. Bush was elected president and the focus on the next bearer of the family name with serious political aspirations shifted to brother Jeb.

Similarly, when Bush won a second term - a form of vindication after the divisive, controversial outcome of the 2000 election - the narration notes that he "took a journey from the White House to the Capitol that his father had been denied."

One of the stand out moments for me, in retrospect, working with his senior staff, President George W. Bush reviews the speech that he will deliver to the nation the evening of Tuesday, Sept. 11th, 2001, from the Oval Office. Moving is an understatement.

In closing, for anyone who followed the reporting about the Iraq war, most of 'American Experience: George W. Bush' plays mostly like a rehash, despite interviews with many key figures who worked in the Bush administration, including chiefs of staff Andy Card and Joshua Bolten, press secretary Ari Fleischer, Rove and others.

The biggest disappointment, however, is that 'American Experience: George W. Bush' pays virtually no attention to the 11 years since Bush left office.

Bush has, in fact, scrupulously maintained a low profile - making his participation in "The Call to Unite" event this last weekend, and the tweet griping about him by President Trump, more noteworthy.

Indeed, there has been some debate about Bush's legacy in the broader context of the Obama and Trump presidencies, a potentially fertile area that goes unexplored. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.PBS.org





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