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Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush Paperback – April 18, 2005

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The Best Worst President: What the Right Gets Wrong About Barack Obama by Mark Hannah
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

This title’s 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 Nixon’s 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 administration’s stonewalling of the September 11 commission isn’t 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 subject—even the vice president’s health—and uses executive privilege to circumvent congressional scrutiny. Dean’s probe extends back to Bush’s pre-presidential activities, such as his attempt to withhold his gubernatorial papers from public view, and Dean’s background as an investment banker adds welcome perspective on Bush’s business career (as well as Cheney’s). Dean ultimately identifies 11 issues (such as the secrecy around the forming of a national energy policy and what Dean calls Bush’s misleading of Congress about war with Iraq) on which the White House’s 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 Bush’s 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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Reprint edition (April 18, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446694835
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446694834
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (221 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,519,902 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on April 3, 2004
Format: 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.
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For a convicted felon, John Dean is an exceptional author. I remember reading his own recollections of the Watergate affair and his own association with the subsequent events that led both to his own denouement and the resignation of Richard Nixon in disgrace in "Blind Ambition" in the mid 1970s. Once again he weighs in impressively by building a very strong circumstantial case for the investigation and possible prosecution of President George W. Bush for criminal actions that Dean terms to be indeed, "worst than those of Watergate". Culling from public records and the recollections of other eye-witnesses, Dean shows how Mr. Bush has systematically exaggerated, embellished, and engineered a series of preverifications and outright lies to the American public in an effort to convince us of the need for military intervention in Iraq.
Dean argues that in asking Congress for a Joint Resolution authorizing the use of American force in Iraq, President Bush made a number of "unequivocal public statements" regarding the reasons this country needed to pursue military force in pursuit of national interests. Dean, now an academic and noted author, shows how through tradition, presidential statements regarding issues of national security are held to an expectation of "the highest standard of truthfulness". Therefore, according to Dean, no president can simply "stretch, twist or distort" the facts of a case and then expect to avoid resulting consequences. Citing historical precedents, Dean shows how Lyndon Johnson's distortions regarding the truth about the war in Vietnam led to his own subsequent withdrawal for candidacy for re-election in 1968, and how Richard Nixon's attempted cover-up of the truth about Watergate forced his own resignation.
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By A Customer on April 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
What stuns me about the negative reviews of this book is that anyone who gives any credibility at all to Dean is dismissed as a Bush basher. Having been too young to remember Watergate, I kept an open mind about Dean's parallels and felt he made his case with good evidence, and felt the comparison to be accurate.
That said, here is my review (forgive its length!):
"Worse than Watergate" is an insightful look at the Bush administration's obsession with secrecy, and an ongoing comparison with the Nixon "imperialist" presidency that resonates at many levels. Dean, having been Nixon's counsel during his presidency and instrumental in the Watergate hearings, draws upon his vast experience and knowledge to first introduce the reader to both administrations before sketching his parallels. The title of the book is profoundly accurate, underscoring that as devious and ruthless as Nixon had been in his time, he is an altar boy in comparison to the Bush administration. For those without a decent knowledge of political players in the '70s, it will be a bit of a shock to see that Cheney and Rumsfeld featured prominently in Nixon's administration. Dean gives the impression that Cheney, as chief of staff then and maligned by the press as incompetent, grew preoccupied about controlling information. This has culminated into the present obsession that defines this presidency. Dean also portrays Cheney as a "co-president" rather than vice president, and supplies ample proof to make the label stick. Humorous passages reinforce this idea: one analogy states that if Bush is the equivalent of a chairman of the board, then Cheney is certainly the CEO; another remarks that if Cheney's health condition ever becomes fatal, then Bush might become president.
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