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Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush Hardcover – April 6, 2004
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The most facile presidential comparison one could make for George W. Bush would be his father, who presided over a war in Iraq and a struggling economy. Some "neocons" reject the parallel and compare Bush to his father's predecessor, Ronald Reagan, citing a plainspoken quality and a belief in deep tax cuts. But John Dean goes further back, seeing in Bush all the secrecy and scandal of Dean's former boss, the notorious Richard Nixon. The difference, as the title of Dean's book indicates, is that Bush is a heck of a lot worse. While the book provides insightful snippets of the way Nixon used to do business, it offers them to shed light on the practices of Bush. In Dean's estimation, the secrecy with which Bush and Dick Cheney govern is not merely a preferred system of management but an obsessive strategy meant to conceal a deeply troubling agenda of corporate favoritism and a dramatic growth in unchecked power for the executive branch that put at risk the lives of American citizens, civil liberties, and the Constitution. Dean sets out to make his point by drawing attention to several areas about which Bush and Cheney have been tight-lipped: the revealing by a "senior White House official" of the identity of an undercover CIA operative whose husband questioned the administration, the health of Cheney, the identity of Cheney's energy task force, the information requested by the bi-partisan 9/11 commission, Bush's business dealings early in his career, the creation of a "shadow government", wartime prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, and scores more. He theorizes that the truth about these and many other situations, including the decision to go to war in Iraq, will eventually surface and that Bush and Cheney's secrecy is a thus far effective means of keep a lid on a rapidly multiplying set of lies and scandals that far outstrip the misdeeds that led directly to Dean's former employer resigning in disgrace. Dean's charges are impassioned and more severe than many of Bush's most persistent critics. But those charges are realized only after careful reasoning and steady logic by a man who knows his way around scandal and corruption. --John Moe
From Publishers Weekly
This titles accusation bears particular weight coming from the man who warned the super-secretive Richard Nixon that there was a cancer on his presidency, and Dean, who was Nixons White House counsel, makes a strong argument that the secrecy of what he dubs the "Bush-Cheney presidency" is "not merely unjustified and excessive but obsessive," and consequently "frighteningly dangerous." Some of the subjects he touches on have been covered in detail elsewhere, and his chapter on the administrations stonewalling of the September 11 commission isnt fully up to date. But few critics have as effectively put the disparate pieces together, linking them to what Dean says is a broader pattern of secrecy from an administration that does its best to control the flow of information on every subjecteven the vice presidents healthand uses executive privilege to circumvent congressional scrutiny. Deans probe extends back to Bushs pre-presidential activities, such as his attempt to withhold his gubernatorial papers from public view, and Deans background as an investment banker adds welcome perspective on Bushs business career (as well as Cheneys). Dean ultimately identifies 11 issues (such as the secrecy around the forming of a national energy policy and what Dean calls Bushs misleading of Congress about war with Iraq) on which the White Houses stance could lead to scandal, and warns that allowing the administration to continue its policy of secrecy may lead to a weakening of democracy. Despite occasional comments about Bushs intelligence that will rankle presidential supporters, Dean (Blind Ambition) is generally levelheaded; his role in Watergate and the seriousness of his charge in the national media that Bush has committed impeachable offenses has popped this onto bestseller lists.
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Top Customer Reviews
Unlike Nixon, who was in charge and had a vision (though he deferred too much to Kissinger), Bush II was not really running anything: the virtual President and Vice-President were Cheney and Rove. And these "slam-dunkers" cooked up the "pre-emptive" War in Iraq. Which instantly became "Free Iraq" when no WMDs were found. Actually, a guy named Wilson was sent on a mission to find a few traces of mustard gas and all he found was Guldens; so Rove "outed" this dude's wife - didn't matter that she was a CIA agent, whose life was then in danger; that now the Nation was less secure.
Yes, Nixon stonewalled pretty good; but nothing like the Bush II boys, excuse me Cheney/Rove administration. The man one heartbeat away from stepping up as the most powerful person in the World had some real problems with his own heart. This detail was placed carefully in the lower bureau drawer.
Interesting that Cheney's ex-employer, who paid him 26 million per year and provided a 45 to 62 million dollar going away present, would get a no-bid contract for the War in Iraq.
In actuality, Nixon ended a war and ended the draft; "opened" China to friendly relations and business - looks like Nixon's intuitiveness payed off, in a way - China helped to cover much of the debt left at Barack Obama's doorstep.
This is beyond recommended - should be read twice and then placed not on the bookshelf but on the mantle.
Mr. Dean has a great perspective for this book, and therefore some authority. To have him come to these conclusions is just awful. Yes, I'm NOT a bush fan at all, but even if I had any tolerance for the guy, after reading this I couldn't.
Unfortunately, I wasn't terribly surprised by the revelations, but I almost felt better before knowing the contents of this book.
What I really am disappointed at is that Kerry or Gore did not use any of this information in their campaigns (or even any of the other Republicans). Almost all of the info in this book is based on published items dating before Kerry's presidential run. This information should have been used by him, it should be covered better by mainstream press (although not many Americans seem to care about truth or facts any longer), and it should be investigated by the new Democrat congress.
The contents of this book are very well researched and presented in a clear, concise and non-inflammatory manner. This is not a book based on character assassination or slander. Rather, what you will find are coherent and publicly available facts outlining the activities of the Bush administration. Dean begins by drawing the comparison between the Nixon administration and the Bush administration by showing the similarities in patterns of behavior and policies. He then begins to unfold in a methodical fashion how the Bush administration has, from day one, systematically engaged in a campaign of stone walling and secret agendas designed to keep information away from the public eye. The hidden agendas and obsessive secrecy employed by this administration are exposed for examination. Some of the activities revealed are downright shocking and disturbing to say the least. For those who are skeptical of the contents of the book, almost every sentence in the book is footnoted and referenced back to the source material from where the information came. So it is extremely easy to check and verify if the information is accurate.
The book is well paced and easy to read and engaging which makes for a very quick read. Unfortunately, the information contained within it's pages is quite disturbing. Nevertheless, it is information that all Americans should be aware of no matter how unpleasant it might be. The Bush administration has done an excellent job of sweeping important facts under the rug and out of sight and this book contains very critical information that should be understood by the electorate. President Bush, as Nixon, has operated outside and above the law and has pursued an agenda that has thrust this country into a diabolical war that is now pushing a price tag of almost $600 billion with no signs of stopping. Dean makes it very clear that the purpose of his book is to educate the population and to make it clear that President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney should be impeached for their willful misconduct, outright lies, and obsessive secret agenda that has now attacked the very foundations of our democracy and civil liberties.