Public figures love to confess their fears and regrets to Suskind, and more than any other reporter, he has been able to part the curtains on the internal dynamics of the most shrouded White House in American history. From the tragic John DiIulio's pronouncement that the Administration was being run by the "Mayberry Machiavellis," to the inscrutable Paul O'Neill's tell-all-to-Suskind "The Price of Loyalty," to the cultish fervour of a White House that eschews the "reality based community," Suskind always gets the goods. So I am very much looking forward to reading "The One Percent Doctrine." More so after reading this review in Salon.
"License to Lie" by Gary Kamiya is worth reading as a stand-alone piece, even if it means sitting through the ad, just for insights like this:
Suskind's great achievement here is to reveal how the Bush administration short-circuited and ultimately corrupted the way America's government is supposed to work. Actual coups d'état are lurid and violent and attract attention. As Suskind reveals, Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice and Rove pulled off a much more sophisticated job: a bureaucratic coup d'état. Without firing a shot, they silenced critics, squelched unwanted facts, and created their own false but salable reality.
And if it is necessary to understand our enemy, it is also necessary to understand the risk that we could become the very thing we fear. Nietzsche wrote, "He who fights with monsters should see to it that he does not become a monster himself. And when you stare long into an abyss, the abyss also stares into you." Secrecy and lies in the service of a higher good -- it has a Marxist, a fascist, a theocratic sound. Little by little, under the guise of "national security" -- since the birth of the republic, always the greatest threat to American values -- Cheney and his blustering, deeply devout accomplice have steered America away from its priceless legacy as a land governed by laws, debate and transparency, and toward something none of us would want to recognize.
Perhaps then we can ask how it happened that the government of the United States was hijacked by a bullying, fact-averse religious fanatic and his puppetmaster, an evil courtier out of Shakespeare. How we were plunged into a disastrous war simply because a cabal of ideologues and right-wing zealots, operating in autocratic secrecy, decided they wanted war. And how all of the normal workings of a democratic government -- objective analysis, checks and balances, transparency -- were simply trashed by an administration waving the bloody shirt of "terror."
But there is little reason for optimism that such a reckoning will take place anytime soon. The Democrats' failure to address the historic debacle that is the Bush presidency is so vast, so complete, that it must stem from reasons deeper than merely its pathetic fear of appearing to be weak on "national security" -- that meaningless shibboleth invoked by political consultants who would nervously triangulate if they were being devoured by a great white shark.
Sadly, I share Kamiya's pessimism. Works like Suskind's are revelatory to those of us with eyes to see and ears to hear. But nothing seems to pierce the bubble of illusion that keeps, the Bush White House, both houses of Congress, and the DC Press Corps, thoroughly insulated from the reality based community.