THE WOODWARD BOOK

Jack R: ‘I agree with Don Culp concerning your objectivity. Perhaps you don’t care if you offend those of us who tend toward the center of the political spectrum? I think Woodward’s spin on events leading up to the invasion of Iraq are about as believable as the ranting of Teddy Kennedy or Howard Dean. But then, it’s not about the truth, is it Andy?’

☞ Well, of course, it’s very much about the truth, Jack. In fact, that’s sorta the whole point.

Woodward turned out to be correct about Watergate, no? (Does anyone still believe Nixon was telling the truth?)

During his 27 years at the Washington Post, I think Woodward has earned a pretty good reputation – which may be one of the reasons President Bush agreed to these interviews and told his team to cooperate. Indeed, the book, Plan of Attack, is listed on the Bush-Cheney ’04 Web site as recommended reading. (My own guess is that Karl Rove decided to embrace it, knowing that relatively few people will actually read it . . . so if they say it’s a good book, they will have essentially defined it as pro-Bush. Smart!)

Did you have a similar negative feeling about Woodward’s previous book, Bush at War? That book really is largely positive. Yet it disclosed the January 7, 2001, meeting at which the President- and VP-elect were warned that Osama Bin Laden represented a ‘tremendous’ and ‘immediate’ threat to the United States – and their failure to pay much attention.

As for ‘the center of the political spectrum,’ with all due respect, I’m actually not quite yet prepared to cede it to you. My own fiscal leanings are a lot more centrist than those of the borrow-and-spend Republicans, who added $3 trillion to the National Debt under Reagan/Bush and have now set us up to add $3 trillion more – mostly in the cause of enriching the already richest.

Meanwhile, Howard Dean cut Vermont income taxes twice, sales tax once, built a rainy day fund that put Vermont in better fiscal shape than, say, Texas (or any other state) . . . yet managed to provide virtually every child under 18 in Vermont health insurance. (And had an A rating from the National Rifle Association.) Which part of that do you oppose? How are you closer to the center than Howard Dean is or I am?

I know you will recall that millions more people voted for Gore and Nader than voted for Bush and Buchanan, so I’m not sure that Bush fans do own the center. But I appreciate your views and make no claim to having a lock on the truth – only an interest as genuine as yours in seeking it.

THE ALBRIGHT BOOK

I just finished listening to Madam Secretary, Madeleine Albright’s memoirs read to me by . . . Madeleine Albright. (Thank you, audible.com.) I assume Jack would read it and imagine the world in even worse shape than it is today if we still had people like Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright running the show. But as I read it, I yearned for that kind of leadership. If you can find time, read it and judge for yourself.

THE BERGER ARTICLE

Or read former Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger’s important piece in the current issue of Foreign Affairs. Summarized:

By stressing unilateralism over cooperation, preemption over prevention, and firepower over staying power, the Bush administration has alienated the United States’ natural allies and disengaged from many of the world’s most pressing problems. To restore U.S. global standing–which is essential in checking the spread of lethal weapons and winning the war on terrorism–the next Democratic president must recognize the obvious: that means are as important as ends.

 

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