The Price of Loyalty

Inside "The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill", author Ron Suskind collaborates with former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill to document his two years as part of the George W. Bush White House.

The book is incredibly factual and detailed, primarily due to O'Neill providing extensive documentation to Suskind, including schedules with 7,630 entries and a set of 19,000 documents that featured memoranda to the President, thank-you notes, meeting minutes, and voluminous reports.

Now, you'd have to wonder why one of Bush's most senior staff members would offer this view on events. These people have long memories and would make the remainder of your life tougher than it needed to be. Well, aside from O'Neill being well off financially, a quick excerpt from the author's note I think underscores why O'Neill provided his account:
"When this project officially began in February 2003, I was heartened, though not surprised, to find Paul O'Neill had a striking view of the value of secrecy - that it had almost no value. We both happened to have read Secrecy, a 1998 book by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a friend and mentor to O'Neill, who wrote that twenty years on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence had taught him a single sterling lesson: The threat to our national security is not from secrets revealed, it's from bad analysis."

I loved O'Neill analysis, debates and always “doing the right thing” approach as painted by the author.

Throughout the book, we are treated to the debate of: what is the difference between philosophy and ideology? The conclusion, that I agree with, he makes is, to quote, "Ideology is a lot easier, because you don't have to know anything or search for anything. You already know the answer to everything. It's not penetrable by facts. It's absolutism".

This reminds me on the comments George Soros, international financier and billionaire investor, made in the 2004 elections: "When I hear Bush say 'You're either with us or against us,' it reminds me of the Nazi's," he told the Post. Bush made his "with us or against us" comments during a post-Sept. 11, 2001, speech in which he admonished the nations of the world to join the U.S. in its battle against global terrorism, which affects many countries and has killed scores of people worldwide. But regardless of the context, absolutism doesn't belong in the White House.

The real bombshell this book delivered was the claims that the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was not a reaction to the attacks of September 11, but was instead a campaign in the planning stages ever since Bush took office. Documentation provided that supports this is a February 1, 2001, NSC meeting agenda which clearly tables "Political-Military Plan for Post-Saddam Iraq Crisis". I guess the horse has bolted on us doing anything about that now, aside from ensuring members of the Bush White House never hold positions of public office again.

I have to say, this being the third book I've read that reviews members of the George W. Bush White House (the others being "The One Percent Doctrine" and Bob Woodward's "State of Denial"), I can't say I've got a single positive word to say about the current presidency. Not a single one.

You can obviously learn more by buying & reading the book, but I'd also recommend reading more about Ron Suskind on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Suskind and on his own website: http://www.ronsuskind.com/

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posted by Lee Gale @ 6:48 PM,

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