Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Robert "Buzz" Patterson was a military aide to President Clinton from May 1996 to May 1998 and one of five individuals entrusted with carrying the "nuclear football"the bag containing the codes for launching nuclear weapons. This responsibility meant that he spent a considerable amount of time next to the president, giving him a unique perspective on the Clinton administration. Though he arrived at the job "filled with professional devotion and commitment to serve," he left believing that Clinton had "sown a whirlwind of destruction upon the integrity of our government, endangered our national security, and done enormous harm to the American military in which I served."
Dereliction of Duty is not a personal attack on President Clinton or a commentary on his various scandals; rather, it is a "frank indictment of his obviousto an eyewitnessfailure to lead our country with responsibility and honor." Lt. Col. Patterson offers a damning list of anecdotes and charges against the President, including how Clinton lost the nuclear codes and shrugged it off; how he stalled and lost the opportunity to launch a direct strike on Osama bin Laden at a confirmed location; how the President and the First Lady, and much of their staff, consistently treated members of the military with disrespect and disdain; and how Clinton groped a female Air Force enlisted member while aboard Air Force One, among other incidents large and small. A considerable portion of this slim book is devoted to the myriad ways in which President Clinton undermined the military, and hence the security, of the nation. He seriously questions Clinton's decisions to send troops to Somalia, Rwanda, Haiti, and Bosnia to accomplish non-military tasks without clear objectives. Having participated in each of these engagements, Lt. Col. Patterson personally "experienced the frustration of needlessly wasted lives, effort, and national prestige" as well as the alarmingly low morale that Clinton inspired.
This is certainly not the first anti-Clinton book, but it is different in that Patterson does not seem to have a political ax to grind. In fact, at times, he appears apologetic about having to write about his ex-commander in chief. Yet, in the end, this retired soldier felt his last act of service should be to share his experience with his country. --Shawn Carkonen
From Publishers Weekly
No man is a hero to his valet-or his personal military aide, to judge by this memoir of the Clinton White House by a retired Air Force colonel who carried Clinton's "nuclear football" and had intimate access to the President from morning jog to evening card game. Although Patterson claims to have no political agenda and to personally like the man, he revisits all the familiar touchstones of conservative Clinton-hatred (he also suggests that the former president bears some responsibility for the events of 9/11). In Patterson's account, Clinton emerges as a careless, disingenuous frat boy, mercilessly hen-pecked by the domineering Hillary, whose tirades leave him looking like a "beaten puppy." He presides over a chaotic administration focused on spin and fund-raising; he fondles an Air Force One stewardess and ogles Patterson's wife in the Oval Office; he loses the nuclear launch codes; and he cheats at golf-which Patterson views as "not just a peccadillo but symptomatic of the way he approached life." Patterson also asserts that Clinton "directly and severely harmed this nation's security." Clinton debilitated the military, Patterson claims, by downsizing it, trying to remove the ban on homosexuals and put women in combat roles, "gutting morale" with pay freezes and "rudderless" peace-keeping missions, and turning it into an "armed social services agency." Worst of all, Clinton was soft on terrorism and missed a chance to get bin Laden with cruise missiles. Patterson raises important issues, but he seems most often affronted by what he sees as Clinton's belief that he "was privileged to conduct himself at a much lower code of conduct than the men or women he would repeatedly order into harm's way." There's a case to be made for Clinton's laxness on security matters, but Patterson's rendition is too anecdotal and brief, as well as too disgruntled-offended, even-to convince many. 8 pages of b&w photos.
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