226 of 235 people found the following review helpful
Scariest book of the bunch,
This review is from: Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush (Hardcover)
I received this book yesterday, started it last night and finished it in the wee hours this morning. I have read many of the current political tomes and a great deal of current reporting from many newspapers; I consider myself fairly well informed on our current state of affairs. "Worse than Watergate" is riveting, the scariest book of the bunch.
Dean does a good job at the outset of describing his purpose and motivation in writing the book; it started out as a concern that the current administration was either "blissful or naive" in its reliance on- bordering on obsession with- secrecy. As he realized that he couldn't even keep pace with reporting the administration's stonewalling, refusals to share information, and terminations of Freedom of Information rights, it dawned on him that this was not naivete, but purposeful and intentional.
Dean makes no bones or excuses for his participation in the Watergate fiasco, but brings to bear the insights one might hope a participant in that scandal had gained from the experience. Indeed, reflections on then versus now are a persistent and pervasive theme throughout. And as the title makes clear, Dean's conclusion is that the behaviour of this administration is worse than Nixon's following the Watergate break-in.
The central topic is the use and abuse of secrecy. Dean makes a compelling case that an over-reliance on secrecy is corrupting in and of itself, and that secrecy begets still more secrecy. In a number of places and in a number of ways, he contends and argues that secrecy is anathema to the democratic process, the democratic system, and to the functioning of democratically elected officials. In short, while certain secrets must be kept, and while officials have certain rights to privacy, secrecy can become a cancer in the body politic all too easily.
Dean ends with an interesting and I think fuctional definition of "scandal," and enumerates eleven particular issues that, in his view, could lead to scandals on the scale of- or greater than- Watergate. It is very disturbing to see all of these charges together, as one realizes just how many issues have been shunted out of the public eye.
There were not too many revelations in this book; most of the issues and instances Dean raises are ones I had read about before. The value of this book is to help the reader see the situation through the lens of a player in what was the greatest political crisis of the last Century. I am not a Bush fan, but I readily concede that many of the differences I have with our current president are more differences of degree or method than of substance. There are issues on which I agree wholeheartedly with Bush, and find Democrats just plain wrong. However, the tendency to hide behind a wall of secrecy has been disturbing to me. I absolutely do not believe this administration has anything to hide with respect to 9/11, but given this belief, it is distressing to see them acting- in public- AS IF they do.
Dean has composed a powerful, short and eminently readable book that can serve either as a wakeup call to this administration regarding its attitudes toward Congress and the public, or as a warning klaxon to people who care about the health of our constitution, our democracy and our country.