The Bush-Cheney Years

A cozy, genteel room to discuss books, authors, and things literary.

Moderators: Lance, Corlyss_D

Post Reply
John F
Posts: 19600
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: New York, NY

The Bush-Cheney Years

Post by John F » Sun Oct 20, 2013 7:18 am

This is just the beginning of Frum's long review.

Who Decided? Peter Baker’s ‘Days of Fire’
By DAVID FRUM
Published: October 18, 2013

The Bush administration opened with a second Pearl Harbor, ended with a second Great Crash and contained a second Vietnam in the middle.

DAYS OF FIRE
Bush and Cheney in the White House
By Peter Baker
Illustrated. 800 pp. Doubleday. $35.

The story of those eight years would seem far too vast to contain inside a single volume. Yet here that volume is. Peter Baker (who covered the Bush White House first for The Washington Post, then for The New York Times) neither accuses nor excuses. He writes with a measure and balance that seem transported backward in time from some more dispassionate future. Yet “Days of Fire” is not a dispassionate book. Its mood might rather be described as poignant: sympathetic to its subjects, generous to their accomplishments and extenuating none of their errors.

“Bush was not one given to reflection, at least not out loud. Yet one day,” in the summer of 2008, “he seemed in a rare introspective mood. Sitting in the Situation Room while waiting for another meeting to begin, the president looked at Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, who had succeeded Peter Pace as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and harked back to the critical days in 2003 before he launched the war that had become so problematic. ‘You know,’ he recalled, ‘when I made the decision on Iraq, I went around the room to everybody at that table, every principal. “You in? Any doubts?” Nothing from anybody.’ For Bush, it was a rare moment of doubt. Was he ruing his own flawed judgment? Bitter that he had been led off track by advisers? Or both?”

That story is sourced to an interview with a “senior official” — your guess whether it was Mullen, Gates or somebody else. Baker’s book is informed by remarkable access to its main characters, including Vice President Dick Cheney. (I’ll note here that I am one of those interviewed for and quoted in Baker’s book.) Yet “Days of Fire” is something more than the reporter’s “first rough draft of history.” Almost every leading figure in the Bush White House, including Bush and Cheney, has now published his or her version of events, and Baker has painstakingly worked through them all. The result is what you might call a polished second draft of history, most likely the most polished draft we’ll have until the archives are opened and the academics can get to work.

An Italian historian once wryly observed that Italy is a country of many secrets but no mysteries. That line may now be applied to the Bush administration in reverse. One by one, the administration’s secrets have been revealed. Yet its central mysteries continue to haunt us.

Baker is haunted above all by the mystery of the Bush-Cheney relationship — and beyond that, by the mystery of George W. Bush. Did Bush truly lead his administration, or was he really led by others, and especially by his forceful vice president?

Baker accumulates many stories of imperious officials imposing their will during the Bush years: not only Cheney, but also Donald Rumsfeld; L. Paul Bremer, the Iraqi occupation administrator; and Gen. George Casey, the Army chief of staff. The crucial decisions in postwar Iraq — to demobilize the army, to de-Baathify the country — were made by Bremer with barely a glance to his superiors back in Washington. In 2008, Henry Paulson, the secretary of the Treasury, would exercise even more control over the administration’s response to the financial crisis. Yet when all is said and done, Baker concludes: The “decider” really did decide.

“His successes and his failures through all the days of fire were his own. ‘He’s his own man,’ said Joe O’Neill, his lifelong friend. ‘He’s got the mistakes to prove it, as we always say. He was his own man.’”..

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/20/books ... -fire.html
John Francis

lennygoran
Posts: 13718
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Re: The Bush-Cheney Years

Post by lennygoran » Sun Oct 20, 2013 7:46 am

John F wrote:This is just the beginning of Frum's long review.
Thanks I enjoyed the review--just yesterday I was watching from PBS Intelligence Squared a debate from last year-- Bush came under some heavy criticism from of all people conservative Laura Ingraham --boy was she complaining about him not paying for the war he waged!

The GOP Must Seize The Center Or Die
For
David Brooks
Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times
Mickey-Edwards90x90
For
Mickey Edwards
Former US Congressman (R), Oklahoma
Laura Ingraham
Against
Laura Ingraham
Host, The Laura Ingraham Show
ralph-reed
Against
Ralph Reed
Chairman, Faith & Freedom Coalition

"2012 was a disappointing year for Republicans. The failure to win key swing states in the presidential election and surprising losses in the House and Senate have prompted some reflection. Was their embrace of small government, low taxes, and a strong conservative stance on social issues at odds with shifting American demographics? Or did the GOP embrace the right platform, but the wrong candidates?"

The results were interesting with the conservatives arguing that the Republican Party still had a lot of life left in it--of course this debate was before the latest Washington congressional Cruz-type fiascos. Regards, Len

http://intelligencesquaredus.org/debate ... ter-or-die

John F
Posts: 19600
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: New York, NY

Re: The Bush-Cheney Years

Post by John F » Sun Oct 20, 2013 9:51 am

That's a reminder that after the G.O.P.'s high water mark in the 2010 elections, they lost 11 seats in 2012. Is their tide going out? One election doesn't make a trend, but that could be said of the 2010 election too. As Dodgers fans always used to say, and had to, "Wait til next year!"
John Francis

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests