I wouldn’t have paid much attention to this — although some of it is hilarious — except for the knee jerk response from the former Bushies. See Bush vets: Who is Matt Latimer?.
I cannot help but observe that the insider reaction to every book about the Bush years is nearly identical — utter disdain, withering criticism, contempt dismissal — regardless of how well researched it might be, what insights it contains, hell, even whether its true or not.
What should an objective observer deduce? The logical conclusion is either that nearly everyone who has every written anything about the Bush White House is lying about it (and this offends the insiders) — or that nearly everyone is telling the truth (and this embarrasses the insiders).
Draw your own conclusion; GQ Excerpt:
We wrote speeches nearly every time the stock market flipped. Meanwhile, the White House seemed to have ceded all of its authority on economic matters to the secretive secretary of the treasury…(In the weeks that followed, Paulson changed his spending priorities two or three times. Incredibly, he’d been given the power to do with that money virtually anything he pleased. All thanks to a president who didn’t understand his proposal and a Congress that didn’t stop to think….)
Chris had just come from a secret meeting in the Oval Office, and without so much as a hello he announced: “Well, the economy is about to completely collapse.”
You mean the stock market?” I asked.
“No, I mean the entire U.S. economy,” he replied. As in, capitalism. As in, hide your money in your mattress.
The secretary of the treasury, Hank Paulson, had sketched out a dire scenario. And Chris said we’d have to write a speech for the president announcing his “bold” plan to deal with the crisis. (The president loved the word bold.)
The plan… Basically, it could be summed up as: Give me hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars and then trust me to do the right thing…In some cases, in fact, Secretary Paulson wanted to pay more than the securities were likely worth in order to put more money into the markets as soon as possible. This was not how the president’s proposal had been advertised to the public or the Congress. It wasn’t that the president didn’t understand what his administration wanted to do. It was that the treasury secretary didn’t seem to know, changed his mind, had misled the president, or some combination of the three…
When White House press secretary Dana Perino was told that 77 percent of the country thought we were on the wrong track, she said what I was thinking: “Who on earth is in the other 23 percent?” I knew who they were—the same people supporting the John McCain campaign. Me? I figured there was no way in hell any Republican would vote for that guy. John McCain, the temperamental media darling, had spent most of the past eight years running against the Republican Party and the president—Republicans on Capitol Hill and at the White House hated him. Choosing John McCain as our standard-bearer would be the height of self-delusion…
He [Bush] paused for a minute. I could see him thinking maybe he shouldn’t say it, but he couldn’t resist.
“If bullshit was currency,” he said straight-faced, “Joe Biden would be a billionaire.” Everyone in the room burst out laughing…
Speech-Less: Tales of a White House Survivor
ME TALK PRESIDENTIAL ONE DAY
GQ, September 2009
With a Colleague’s Book Due Out, Ex-Bushies Play Out the Ritual of Anxiety
Washington Post August 3, 2009