How Bush Rules: Chronicles of a Radical Regime

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9780691128887: How Bush Rules: Chronicles of a Radical Regime

In a series of columns and essays that renowned journalist and former presidential adviser Sidney Blumenthal wrote in the three years following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, a unifying theme began to emerge: that Bush, billed by himself and by many others as a conservative, is in fact a radical--more radical than any president in American history. In How Bush Rules, Blumenthal provides a trenchant and vivid account of the progression of Bush's radical style--from his reliance on one-party rule and his unwillingness to allow internal debate to his elevation of the power of the vice president.

Taking readers through pivotal events such as the hunt for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the rise of the foreign-policy neoconservatives, Abu Ghraib, the war on science, the Jack Abramoff scandal, and the catastrophic mishandling of Hurricane Katrina, the book tracks a consistent policy that calls for the president to have complete authority over independent federal agencies and to remain unbound by congressional oversight or even the law.

In an incisive and powerful introduction, Blumenthal argues that these radical actions are not haphazard, but deliberately intended to fundamentally change the presidency and the government. He shows not only the historical precedents for radical governing, but also how Bush has taken his methods to unique extremes. With its penetrating account of a critical new era in American leadership, How Bush Rules is a devastating appraisal of the Bush presidency.

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Review:

Establishment scions rarely speak so loudly. In this scathing critique of George W. Bush’s administration, former Clinton senior aide Sidney Blumenthal lets loose. Despite his long service in government and journalism, often as a relatively quiet behind-the-scenes player, Blumenthal with this book reveals himself unleashed. Whether the topic is intelligence gathering, the Iraq war, the Middle East peace process (or lack thereof), or other topics, Blumenthal doesn’t waver. His tone is unrestrained, his dismay palpable, as he catalogs the history of what he terms the Bush administration’s "radicalism."

The work consists of an introductory 23-page essay, a compilation of articles that Blumenthal originally authored for Slate.com and British newspaper The Guardian between 2003 and 2006, and finally a short epilogue. Taken together, the writings paint a damning picture of a befuddled, lazy, incompetent, and at times deliberately malevolent administration. No figure in the Bush White House escapes. As Blumenthal summarizes in one passage: "The president aggressive and manipulated, ignorant of his own policies and their consequences, negligent; the secretary of state [Powell] proud, instinctively subordinate, constantly in retreat; the vice president [Cheney] a Cardinal Richelieu, the conniving head of a neoconservative cabal, the power behind the throne; the national security adviser [Rice] seemingly open, even vulnerable, posing as the honest broker, but deceitful and derelict, an underhanded lightweight." In different contexts, with different storylines, these essential portraits come through on almost all of the book’s 403 pages.

Blumenthal’s former position in the White House and his numerous connections throughout Washington show in telling ways. He quotes from a variety of private sources – for example, contacts within the CIA and NSC on intelligence matters, different levels of military hierarchy on the Abu Ghraib scandal, and national party leaders on domestic political skirmishes – to enrich his perspectives. Among his more explosive revelations are the military’s discontent with the Bush team’s strong-handed policies, for instance – one essay titled "The American Military Coup of 2012" stretches readers’ imaginations and prompts serious reflection about where events in Iraq may lead.

The inherent design of this book – with dozens of short, to-the-point essays – compensates for Blumenthal’s one weakness as a writer, which is his occasional tendency towards long-windedness and overly complex prose. Whereas his previous book, The Clinton Years, veered at times towards long and tiring monologue, the pace of this one is livelier and readable. In both its sharp tone and pragmatic readability, it represents a strikingly atypical offering from the normally genteel Princeton University Press.

As the body of serious analysis on Bush’s administration builds, Blumenthal’s work will take its place alongside other journalistic-type memoirs as credible first drafts of history. Where Paul O’Neill’s The Price of Loyalty lacerates the Bush administration’s decision-making from the Republican side, and with a focus on fiscal policy, and Richard Clarke’s Against All Enemies provides a centrist critique around national security, Blumenthal’s book offers a view from the respectable political left with both bark and bite on a number of Bush’s policies. It’s a perspective worth heeding.--Peter Han

A Note from Author Sidney Blumenthal
"My newly published book, How Bush Rules: Chronicles of a Radical Regime, is a first draft of the history of the Bush presidency in and an analysis of its unprecedented radicalism. The fifth anniversary of 9/11 illustrated in many ways how Bush has exploited the trauma to pursue his radical agendas. The public was supposed to remember the event as the occasion of the president’s heroism. Not only are we to forget "My Pet Goat" but also Bush’s dismissal of the Aug. 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief, "Bin Laden Determined To Strike In United States." We are encouraged to recall the iconic pose of Bush on the rubble of the World Trade Center, bullhorn in hand, arm wrapped around a fireman, but not the giddy president in airman’s uniform striding on the deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln to stand before a sign proclaiming, "Mission Accomplished." Photo credit: Ralph Alswang

From the Back Cover:

"To paraphrase Lyndon Johnson, Sidney Blumenthal has been on the inside shooting out and now he's on the outside shooting in. He's hitting his target--the Bush administration--better than anyone else. He sets his sights on the entire Bush agenda--the blundering war in Iraq, a reckless economic policy, a corrupt Congress, and the little-noticed but highly destructive war on honest and objective national security career professionals in the CIA, the State Department, and the military. The result is a devastating account of a radical presidency."--James Carville

"History's judgment of America's 43rd president is likely to be harsh. He presented himself in 2000 as a political centrist who would insist on the highest standards of honesty and accountability and would show his country's 'humble but strong' face to the world. He has governed in a very different and destructive way. The full story of how the Bush who was elected became the Bush who governed will take years to tell. But the real-time draft of history provided by Sidney Blumenthal in these dispatches will be an invaluable resource. He is a partisan, and proud of it. But he is also accurate, convincing, urbane, and far ahead of others in detecting trends and connections."--James Fallows, national correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly and author of Blind Into Baghdad

"Sidney Blumenthal's sustained evisceration of the Bush II presidency is simply thrilling. At once fiery and cool, powered by the author's extraordinary feel for American politics, American history, American popular culture, and the esoteric mysteries of American conservatism, How Bush Rules yields so much fierce pleasure that it does the seemingly impossible: it makes from the materials of these lost years a thing of value."--Hendrik Hertzberg, author of Politics: Observations and Arguments

"Sidney Blumenthal is sharper and better informed than most political scientists. He is not only erudite but also witty, accessible, and very quick (but not at all glib), and he writes like a dream."--Alan Ryan, author of Liberal Anxieties and Liberal Education

"This is compelling, tough-minded journalism. It makes an important contribution to public debate."--Ira Katznelson, Columbia University

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Descrizione libro Princeton University Press, United States, 2006. Hardback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In a series of columns and essays that renowned journalist and former presidential adviser Sidney Blumenthal wrote in the three years following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, a unifying theme began to emerge: that Bush, billed by himself and by many others as a conservative, is in fact a radical--more radical than any president in American history. In How Bush Rules, Blumenthal provides a trenchant and vivid account of the progression of Bush s radical style--from his reliance on one-party rule and his unwillingness to allow internal debate to his elevation of the power of the vice president. Taking readers through pivotal events such as the hunt for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the rise of the foreign-policy neoconservatives, Abu Ghraib, the war on science, the Jack Abramoff scandal, and the catastrophic mishandling of Hurricane Katrina, the book tracks a consistent policy that calls for the president to have complete authority over independent federal agencies and to remain unbound by congressional oversight or even the law. In an incisive and powerful introduction, Blumenthal argues that these radical actions are not haphazard, but deliberately intended to fundamentally change the presidency and the government. He shows not only the historical precedents for radical governing, but also how Bush has taken his methods to unique extremes. With its penetrating account of a critical new era in American leadership, How Bush Rules is a devastating appraisal of the Bush presidency. Codice libro della libreria AAH9780691128887

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