Wednesday, August 25, 2004

A 'disengaged' president?

When we vote this election, in many ways it's not a vote for Bush or Kerry but for the Republicans or Democrats. Now I know this is old news but in Suskind's The Price of Loyalty, interviews with Bush administration insiders (primarily with Paul O'Neill) among other things, shed light on how powerful members of the administration use various means to sway the president, from repitition of ideas like 'the upper class are the entrepreneurs' to 'Stick to principle':
“He asks, ‘Haven't we already given money to rich people? This second tax cut's gonna do it again,’” says Suskind.

“He says, ‘Didn’t we already, why are we doing it again?’ Now, his advisers, they say, ‘Well Mr. President, the upper class, they're the entrepreneurs. That's the standard response.’ And the president kind of goes, ‘OK.’ That's their response. And then, he comes back to it again. ‘Well, shouldn't we be giving money to the middle, won't people be able to say, ‘You did it once, and then you did it twice, and what was it good for?’"

But according to the transcript, Karl Rove jumped in.

“Karl Rove is saying to the president, a kind of mantra. ‘Stick to principle. Stick to principle.’ He says it over and over again,” says Suskind. “Don’t waver.”

An interesting characterization of the way this works is an analogy to:
"a praetorian guard that encircled the president" to block out contrary views.

They invoke President Reagan:
"...Cheney, at this moment, shows his hand,” says Suskind. “He says, ‘You know, Paul, Reagan proved that deficits don't matter. We won the mid-term elections, this is our due.’ … O'Neill is speechless.”

Here's another example of Bush's transformation. Before the election, he was saying that we've got to change the policy of being the world's policeman, going around nation-building:
"If we don't stop extending our troops all around the world in nation-building missions, then we're going to have a serious problem coming down the road. And I'm going to prevent that."

Right after Cheney, et. al. got a hold of him, it was all Iraq, all the time:
“From the very beginning, there was a conviction, that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go,” says O’Neill, who adds that going after Saddam was topic "A" 10 days after the inauguration - eight months before Sept. 11.

“From the very first instance, it was about Iraq. It was about what we can do to change this regime,” says Suskind. “Day one, these things were laid and sealed.”
Souce: CBS News

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