The Price of LoyaltyOff the bookshelf

The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill by Ron Suskind

This book which was released on Tuesday got a lot of press on Monday and I’ll admit it, I caved. I don’t usually buy a book just because it’s received a lot of press. I fact, I usually avoid books that get a lot of press unless I intended on buying them before the press occurred. In this case I bowed to the pressure and bought the book the afternoon it came out. Am I glad I did.

Unless you were under a rock on Monday it was hard to not hear about this one. Written by Pulitzer Prize winning author Ron Suskind, the main source for this book was former US Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill who was fired by Bush after serving only two years. When asked to participate in this book O’Neill asked the Treasury Department for “copies of every document that had ever crossed his desk.” They responded by giving him several hundred CD-ROMs containing over 19,000 documents, individually photocopied/scanned onto the discs. O’Neill also handed over his notes and personal journal and calendar that contained 7,630 entries. With all of that data available to the author there is now way to belief that any of this book is made up. (According to the back dj flap, the original documents are available at the author’s Web site but I couldn’t find them. I’ve e-mailed Mr. Suskind and will post the correct URL if/when I receive a response.)

Since O’Neill was the Treasury Secretary, much of the book focuses on the Bush administration’s domestic monetary policy, which is actually made interesting. The explanation of the fight behind the original Bush tax cut is brilliantly explained and made clear. O’Neill also give deep insight into other issues including the much reported Bush intention, almost from day one of his presidency, to invade Iraq, the Kyoto treaty on global warming, O’Neill’s much publicized trip to Africa with U2’s Bono, and how he dealt with the horrors of 9/11 and freezing the accounts of terrorist organizations.

Although it is the single most quoted line from the book I think it bares repeating here just in case you’ve not already heard it. When it came to cabinet meetings Bush “was like a blind man in a roomful of deaf people”. Reading the description of the cabinet meeting that lead to that conclusion is worth the price of the book.

Anyone who reads this book and still believes that they can vote to re-elect Bush in good conscious seriously needs to have their feelings for their country and fellow man questioned.

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