bostorus (bostorus) wrote,
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bostorus

A Catalogue of Horribles

Vanity Fair has an oral history of the Bush Presidency. Being presented with all the malfeasances and incompetences and infighting at once, in chronological order, from firsthand accounts, is absolutely fascinating. Missed chances to do everything from improving partisan relationships to getting Bin Laden before 9/11 to dealing with Katrina (Brownie has an eye-rolling quotation where he blames the failure of the Kartina response to intervention by Homeland Security) to keeping the recent bailout under control. A couple of choice quotes:
Lawrence Wilkerson, top aide and later chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell: We had this confluence of characters—and I use that term very carefully—that included people like Powell, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, and so forth, which allowed one perception to be “the dream team.” It allowed everybody to believe that this Sarah Palin–like president—because, let’s face it, that’s what he was—was going to be protected by this national-security elite, tested in the cauldrons of fire. What in effect happened was that a very astute, probably the most astute, bureaucratic entrepreneur I’ve ever run into in my life became the vice president of the United States.
David Kuo, deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives: I went to a communications meeting the day after [Senator Jim] Jeffords switched [parties]. I remember feeling like I was looking at people who had won a reality-game ticket to head up the White House. There was this remarkable combination of hubris, excitement, and staggering ignorance.
Jay Garner, retired army general and first overseer of the U.S. administration and reconstruction of Iraq: When Shinseki said, Hey, it’s going to take 300,000 or 400,000 soldiers, they crucified him. They called me up the day after that, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld. They called me the next day and they said, Did you see what Shinseki said? And I said yes. And they said, Well, that can’t be possible. And I said, Well, let me give you the only piece of empirical data I have. In 1991, I owned 5 percent of the real estate in Iraq, and I had 22,000 trigger pullers. And on any day I never had enough. So you can take 5 percent—you can take 22,000 and multiply that by 20. Hey, here’s probably the ballpark, and I didn’t have Baghdad. And they said, Thank you very much. So I got up and left.
Lawrence Wilkerson, top aide and later chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell: As my boss [Colin Powell] once said, Bush had a lot of .45-caliber instincts, cowboy instincts. Cheney knew exactly how to polish him and rub him. He knew exactly when to give him a memo or when to do this or when to do that and exactly the word choice to use to get him really excited.
There is a lot more more in the article. This has been a truly astounding chapter of American history.
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