10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Red Hot Anger Harms Strength of Message
, June 16, 2007
This review is from: Commander in Chief: How Truman, Johnson, and Bush Turned a Presidential Power into a Threat to America's Future (Hardcover)
I've just about finished a very uneven diatribe against American presidential power called "Commander-in-Chief," by Geoffrey Perret, an historian who wrote a good bio of U. S. Grant about 10 years ago. The basic premise of the new book is that Truman, Johnson, and Bush Two extended presidential power in unconstitutional ways to pursue wrongheaded wars, and they had help from Nixon, Reagan, Clinton and Bush One. JFK, Ford, and Carter get somewhat of a pass, but not JFK's advisors, and certainly not his generals.
Much of Perret's prose is so vitrolic and sarcastic that it takes away from the strength of the arguments he's trying to put forward. His footnoting of his research is also uneven; a claim that a Kuwaiti diplomat's daughter gave perjured testimony to the U.S. Congress about butchered babies in the Iraqi attack on Kuwait, and that this testimony helped persuade Congress to vote for war powers to attack Iraq in Gulf One, is unsupported by any footnotes. The hell of it is that he's basically on the money in his assessments.
I'm too old and fixed in habit to stop reading and listening to historical and political pundits, but I would solemnly advise you not to bother to do so, and just simply vote against any politician (such as Rudi Giuliani) who suggests that going to war is going to solve our problems. As Perret points out, the U.S. must reassess the limits of its power, find alernative energy sources other than in the Mideast, and stop parading around as the toughest guy on the block. Otherwise, the chaos and anarchy created by our unwise actions will ultimately combine to make us defeat ourselves.
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