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The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill

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Updated with a new afterword and including a selection of key documents, this is the explosive account of how the Bush administration makes policy on war, taxes, and politics -- its true agenda exposed by a member of the Bush cabinet. This vivid, unfolding narrative is like no other book that has been written about the Bush presidency. At its core are the candid assessments Updated with a new afterword and including a selection of key documents, this is the explosive account of how the Bush administration makes policy on war, taxes, and politics -- its true agenda exposed by a member of the Bush cabinet. This vivid, unfolding narrative is like no other book that has been written about the Bush presidency. At its core are the candid assessments of former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill, the only member of Bush's cabinet to leave and speak frankly about how and why the administration has come to its core policies and decisions -- from cutting taxes for the rich to conducting preemptive war. O'Neill's account is supported by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind's interviews with numerous participants in the administration, by transcripts of meetings, and by voluminous documents. The result is a disclosure of breadth and depth unparalleled for an ongoing presidency. As readers are taken to the very epicenter of government, Suskind presents an astonishing picture of a president so carefully managed in his public posture that he is a mystery to most Americans. Now, he is revealed.


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Updated with a new afterword and including a selection of key documents, this is the explosive account of how the Bush administration makes policy on war, taxes, and politics -- its true agenda exposed by a member of the Bush cabinet. This vivid, unfolding narrative is like no other book that has been written about the Bush presidency. At its core are the candid assessments Updated with a new afterword and including a selection of key documents, this is the explosive account of how the Bush administration makes policy on war, taxes, and politics -- its true agenda exposed by a member of the Bush cabinet. This vivid, unfolding narrative is like no other book that has been written about the Bush presidency. At its core are the candid assessments of former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill, the only member of Bush's cabinet to leave and speak frankly about how and why the administration has come to its core policies and decisions -- from cutting taxes for the rich to conducting preemptive war. O'Neill's account is supported by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind's interviews with numerous participants in the administration, by transcripts of meetings, and by voluminous documents. The result is a disclosure of breadth and depth unparalleled for an ongoing presidency. As readers are taken to the very epicenter of government, Suskind presents an astonishing picture of a president so carefully managed in his public posture that he is a mystery to most Americans. Now, he is revealed.

30 review for The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    It's scary that this book alone didn't cause Bush to be defeated in 2004. Ron Susskind's work is excellent, and one can't help but admire former Treasury secretary O'Neill for his courage. It is also noted as being the earliest book by a Bush insider to accuse him of planning an invasion of Iraq prior to 9/11, and it remains one of the most lucid, coherent, politically sound accounts of the scope of incompetence and corruption in the Bush administration. This is not a book written by an angry li It's scary that this book alone didn't cause Bush to be defeated in 2004. Ron Susskind's work is excellent, and one can't help but admire former Treasury secretary O'Neill for his courage. It is also noted as being the earliest book by a Bush insider to accuse him of planning an invasion of Iraq prior to 9/11, and it remains one of the most lucid, coherent, politically sound accounts of the scope of incompetence and corruption in the Bush administration. This is not a book written by an angry liberal. This is a book written by a genuine economic conservative who recognized early that Bush was not what he pretended to be. What's saddest is the number of sound plans by O'Neill to improve the economic stability of not just the United States, but several nations in Africa. His lifelong dream of following in Alexander Hamilton's noble footsteps was squashed by political manipulations and lies. NC

  2. 5 out of 5

    Frank Stein

    The tropes of a DC political memoir come heavy and thick in this book. Paul O'Neill, a former aide in the Nixon and Ford White Houses, and recent successful CEO of Alcoa, comes to DC again with high hopes to accept his highest position ever, Treasury Secretary under George W. Bush. O'Neill announced that he wanted "to accept the challenge to return to public service," to reform Social Security and other big tasks. Yet by the end, there's the inevitable disillusionment: "It's a tough town...but m The tropes of a DC political memoir come heavy and thick in this book. Paul O'Neill, a former aide in the Nixon and Ford White Houses, and recent successful CEO of Alcoa, comes to DC again with high hopes to accept his highest position ever, Treasury Secretary under George W. Bush. O'Neill announced that he wanted "to accept the challenge to return to public service," to reform Social Security and other big tasks. Yet by the end, there's the inevitable disillusionment: "It's a tough town...but more these days about power - its preservation and expansion - than it is about principles." In the same vein, "I thought about how I expected to find a bigger market for truth, but it didn't turn out that way." It's so typical as to make one wonder if either O'Neill or his effective amanuensis Ron Suskind had ever heard of DC before 2001. This archetypical story of naive hope and eventual frustration might be less grating if this wasn't also one of the most self-serving books ever to come out of the city. The fact that O'Neill seems to be Suskind's only real source for the book gives him a monopoly on recollections, with Suskind mainly transcribing and adding his own cheerleading, with at best finger-length distance from his hero. This allows O'Neill to assert that everyone who disagreed with him in the administration was just being political or power-mad, while anyone who agreed with him was a "pragmatic truth-seeker." Lawrence Lindsey, Bush's first National Economic Chairman, is derided for being an ill-educated fool, with his former "untenured" junior faculty appointment in Harvard Economics. This from O'Neill with an MA in public administration from Indiana. O'Neill constantly references his "higher" loyalty to truth over personal loyalty to Bush, but from the beginning he made a deal with his close friend Alan Greenspan to oppose the shape of Bush's tax cuts. As Suskind says, here were two men "Colluding to prevent an elected President" from enacting his policy. It is clear that O'Neill opposed Bush from the beginning, and then seems surprised that the force of his reason wasn't able to convert him. O'Neill's self-regard allowed him to pontificate on everything under the sun while in office, convinced as always that he was just speaking "truth." From water projects in Africa (he carelessly disregards estimates of costs and says he could do it for one-hundredth of estimates, with no evidence from this supposedly "reality-based" pragmatist) to economic stimulus (he is shown ineptly arguing with Columbia Econ professor Glenn Hubbard) to education policy (he feels confident since he served on some earlier advisory boards), to global warming, health care, and sundry others. Each time Suskind transcribes O'Neill's opinions as if they were gospel, and his opponents mere ideologues. How such an evidence-based man is able to form so many certitudes on so many topics is never broached. Perhaps his similarities to Bush are closer than he would like to admit. The book then, if one can grit one's teeth a bit, is not without its merits, or without its valid criticisms. It does seem as if Bush's White House was preternaturally ill-equipped to handle internal debate. While many said that Bush, despite his personal ineptitudes, could delegate decision-making, O'Neill shows that since so many debates stretch across different departments, there was no way to resolve many without executive decisions. Yet Bush refused to even comment in most meetings, perhaps worried that he would reveal his ignorance. The irony in these cases is that in most cases Bush refused to be a "decider." This led to a bewildering process where organized groups in the White House presented fait accomplis to the President without much consensus or even open discussion, such as in the form of the tax cuts or the watered-down CEO responsibility provisions in what became Sarbanes-Oxley. As in his other books, Suskind's writing can infuriate. Much like O'Neill, and Bush himself, Suskind matches certitude with only passing acquaintance with the facts, and the obvious mistakes are manifold (millions mistaken for billions, misdated history, incorrect definitions), though not as glaring as in his later "Confidence Men." Despite these obvious complaints, this book does provide one an inside-look at Bush's early economic policy-making. If only there were more reliable narrators.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

    pretty cool book about a guy from pittsburgh! just looked up what he was doing now and still has his aol address listed. hm. love data based decisions an no nonsense style that is o’neill. probably also good to read a few views outside of my own politics, but i was happy to see he was basically a climate change advocate and had a lot of very non-conservative views. smart people are cool people. baby spoiler- the title is a little misleading, suggesting he pondered the price he would accept in re pretty cool book about a guy from pittsburgh! just looked up what he was doing now and still has his aol address listed. hm. love data based decisions an no nonsense style that is o’neill. probably also good to read a few views outside of my own politics, but i was happy to see he was basically a climate change advocate and had a lot of very non-conservative views. smart people are cool people. baby spoiler- the title is a little misleading, suggesting he pondered the price he would accept in return for his loyalty...arguably he was uncompromising basically from the beginning?

  4. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    The two things in this book that stuck out most to me, aside from its consistent focus on how idiotic it is to ignore and avoid evidence of actual, current situations as a means to make decisions, in favor of pushing your ideologically and fantasy-based decisions, is 1) the fact that the author pointed out, VERY clearly, that the administration was 100% focused on invading Iraq to replace Saddam long BEFORE the 9/11 attacks. This was during Bush’s FIRST term. Iraq was the focus of the administra The two things in this book that stuck out most to me, aside from its consistent focus on how idiotic it is to ignore and avoid evidence of actual, current situations as a means to make decisions, in favor of pushing your ideologically and fantasy-based decisions, is 1) the fact that the author pointed out, VERY clearly, that the administration was 100% focused on invading Iraq to replace Saddam long BEFORE the 9/11 attacks. This was during Bush’s FIRST term. Iraq was the focus of the administration’s foreign policym preceding all other their foreign policy matters. I am not one who believes in the far-flung 9/11 conspiracy theories, but I can’t shake how disturbing this fact is. 2) The second thing that was clearly emphasized was Bush’s general stupidity. The author never points this out in such a brash manner as I did above, but during encounter after encounter, Bush is characterized repeatedly as an empty-headed auto-motron. He daydreams consistently during meetings, makes up and uses ridiculously childish nicknames for the professionals he associates with, refuses to ask questions to understand situations (economic, social, environmental, foreign policy-based, etc.), and generally doesn’t send the message that he is concerned with the state of the country at all. Incredible how much power Cheney wields in this presidency, and how much ill-informed, purely academic (non reality-based), ideological power Wolfowitz has wielded through him. This is a very good book, and since it is a bit heavier on the economic talk, I recommend reading it using an audiobook, as that makes it convenient. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in seeing through a close insider’s eyes the types of personalities that are running our country right now.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brett

    Most of what were revelations when this book was first released are just something that pretty much everybody knows about the Bush administration. Bush was not intellectually curious? Bush and his advisors wanted war with Iraq long before 9/11? Bush wasn't really concerned with deficits? All these seem pretty obvious to those of us that lived through the administration. Yet, O'Neill/Suskind's book was the first to say many of these things that are now cliches. Now that time has passed since the Most of what were revelations when this book was first released are just something that pretty much everybody knows about the Bush administration. Bush was not intellectually curious? Bush and his advisors wanted war with Iraq long before 9/11? Bush wasn't really concerned with deficits? All these seem pretty obvious to those of us that lived through the administration. Yet, O'Neill/Suskind's book was the first to say many of these things that are now cliches. Now that time has passed since the Bush era, I'm not sure this is the best read any longer to get a grip on some of this. It's an interesting, and decently written, insider account of the some key moments of the presidency, and along with Richard Clarke's Against All Enemies, will be remembered by political journalists for a long time to come. But it also reads like a hagiographic tribute to the Wisdom of Paul O'Neill and Moderate Centrism in All Things. In this telling, O'Neill is the one person in the world that knows what is what, and what to do about it. He is the No Nonsense Executive With the Answers. It feels very much like an attempt to cover his own ass. Unquestionably important in its own moment, but this is one first draft of history that has been re-written and improved by later authors.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Joag

    I am a quarter of the way through this book and each time I read another page, I have a "Wow" reaction, completely different from the "Wow" reaction I had on the page before. Its unbelievable how blind we all were during the Bush Administration. I'm half way through this book. It amazes me still. I cannot believe that Bush actually would zone out at meetings. He focused more on food than on anything else. Any how that's how it is depicted in Ron Suskind's book. We watched the movie Produced by Oliv I am a quarter of the way through this book and each time I read another page, I have a "Wow" reaction, completely different from the "Wow" reaction I had on the page before. Its unbelievable how blind we all were during the Bush Administration. I'm half way through this book. It amazes me still. I cannot believe that Bush actually would zone out at meetings. He focused more on food than on anything else. Any how that's how it is depicted in Ron Suskind's book. We watched the movie Produced by Oliver Stone. It depicted the familiar detachment that I have been reading in Suskind's book. Its truly amazing...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    I found it hard to put down, and gained great respect for both Paul O'Neill and Ron Suskind.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Stieb

    A useful book for peering into the decision-making process of the Bush administration. Paul O'Neill was the Treasury Secretary from 01-02. He was a black sheep in this administration because he was neither an ideologue nor a politico: he was a quant, a results and evidence oriented guy who believed first and foremost in thorough process in decision making. He found the evidence-gathering and decision-making process in the administration to be utterly slipshod and ideologically driven. The focus A useful book for peering into the decision-making process of the Bush administration. Paul O'Neill was the Treasury Secretary from 01-02. He was a black sheep in this administration because he was neither an ideologue nor a politico: he was a quant, a results and evidence oriented guy who believed first and foremost in thorough process in decision making. He found the evidence-gathering and decision-making process in the administration to be utterly slipshod and ideologically driven. The focus on the book is on economics, especially the Bush tax cuts. O'Neill objected not to the tax cuts but to the Bush administration's thinking that this was an economic panacea and its failure to consider the long-term deficit imbalance that massive tax cuts without a similar reduction in spending would cause. O'Neill also recorded 2 relevant pieces of information for the Iraq War: 1. The administration's pre 911 hope to ramp up the pressure on Saddam compared to the Clinton years and 2. The efforts of Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, and others to immediately orient the administration's response to 9/11 toward Iraq, which reflected an ideologically driven agenda that flew in the face of a lack of any connection between SH and 9/11. While this book is not about Iraq (it is featured on maybe 15 of 330 pages), it does give interesting insights into the overall problems with the Bush administration's intellectual processes. O'Neill constantly noticed that when the administration faced a decision it quickly jumped over the "Why?" straight to the "How?". In a sense, decisions came prefabricated by the ideological/political consensus of the administration with little systematic examination of evidence and counter-claims. Empiricists like Powell and O'Neill clearly swam against the tide throughout these processes. Although it was good of O'Neill to come out honestly and give this information to Suskind, it would have been even better for him (and Powell) to have gone public with the flawed decision-making and rigged intelligence gathering of the administration before the war started. I wouldn't really recommend this book to anyone who isn't studying the Bush administration in some depth. It's just too much detail on tax stuff to be interesting to the average reader. Suskind's One Percent Doctrine is the go-to for the lead-up to the Iraq War. Still, I found this book to be useful and mostly interesting.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Anne Fox

    This book is a frank exposé of how Washington's inner circle, and especially the White House, REALLY works. It appears that if you are analytical and a pragmatist, rather than an ideologue and "team player" (you can translate that to "adherent to the message"), you have little chance of survival in our government. Written from the perspective of Paul O'Neill, Bush 43's Secretary of the Treasury for the first two years of Bush's administration, it gives frank insight into the workings of our nati This book is a frank exposé of how Washington's inner circle, and especially the White House, REALLY works. It appears that if you are analytical and a pragmatist, rather than an ideologue and "team player" (you can translate that to "adherent to the message"), you have little chance of survival in our government. Written from the perspective of Paul O'Neill, Bush 43's Secretary of the Treasury for the first two years of Bush's administration, it gives frank insight into the workings of our nation's highest level of government that has striking parallels to what is occurring today. I highly recommend this book!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Darinda

    Former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill's account of his time with the Bush administration. A first person account that had some interesting insights. For me, this was a slower read since the subject of politics, and especially taxes, can be a bit dull. A lot has been written about the Bush administration since this book was published, and I imagine there are more in depth looks at the administration. I read this book because it was on the Gilmore Girls reading challenge.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Len

    An enlightening account of Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill's time in the first two year's of George W. Bush's presidency. The author uses Mr. O'Neill's perspective to give us an insider's view of the inner workings of the White House and the professional relationship of President Bush and Secretary O'Neill.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

    I still think about this book.... Incredibly well written and insightful

  13. 4 out of 5

    Martha

    written about Julie O'Neill's dad (W&M) written about Julie O'Neill's dad (W&M)

  14. 5 out of 5

    John Harvard

    Ron Suskind's book The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill is one of the first books to have hit the stands about the dysfunction within the 43rd President's administration. It is Paul O'Neill's version of his short stint in the administration that lasted for a little over two years until his abrupt resignation in 2003. By now several other books have dealt with this topic in more detail, especially about the decisions behind the Iraq war and the l Ron Suskind's book The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill is one of the first books to have hit the stands about the dysfunction within the 43rd President's administration. It is Paul O'Neill's version of his short stint in the administration that lasted for a little over two years until his abrupt resignation in 2003. By now several other books have dealt with this topic in more detail, especially about the decisions behind the Iraq war and the lack of robust analysis that should have occurred at the highest levels of government before deciding on key matters (must reads are: Bob Woodward's books starting with State Of Denial: Bush At War). By now it is also widely speculated that we had an administration that was being driven by the Vice President and his inner circle of non-elected officials who implemented their own neo-conservative agenda by keeping the President ignorant of key details and shielded him from the perspectives of other senior officials. The book discusses this dynamic focusing on the economic agenda during that administration and how the government decided on the tax cuts that were given to American consumers after 9/11 under the belief that they would stimulate the economy. The decision to proceed with the tax-cuts and also the controversial Iraq war are the principal reasons many commentators ascribe for our country going from a budgetary surplus back to a deficit by the end of the Bush administration. The book portrays Paul O'Neill in a flattering light and does not blame him for any of the missteps that occurred during the administration. It is O'Neill's version of the actual events that led to his ultimate dismissal. Every event is blamed on the core gang led by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld as though O'Neill himself did not commit any flaws that were serious. For example, there is no blame laid at his doorstep for his loose statements that roiled the US Dollar in the foreign exchange markets nor for his careless remarks on a foreign tour in Africa that caused a mini-diplomatic crisis. Whilst both these events are described in the book, the reason for their adverse outcome is placed in the hands of a vicious media or other senior executives in the administration who were against him. After reading this book, the conclusion I came to was that O'Neill was essentially a self-aggrandizing CEO who naively thought that the role of Treasury Secretary would allow him to solve some of the big problems of the economy like the shortfall in Social Security without having to do any of the hard work required to solve the then current state of affairs. The title of the book, The Price of Loyalty, is misleading as well since it inaccurately implies that O'Neill was an innocent loyalist who had no blame for the events that occurred and was unjustly fired. Despite O'Neill's differences with other officials which certainly were responsible for his being fired, he would anyways have been fired in any other administration as well. This is because of the several gaffes he made around the administration's position like, his statements on the US Dollar which led to chaos in the financial markets, his off-the-cuff unauthorized comments to foreign dignitaries about our perception of their contributions and his infatuation with clean energy and water which were really not his remit as Treasury Secretary. Despite the book's attempt to glorify O'Neill, it is obvious from it that he made these mistakes not only because of his lack of experience in public life but also because of his having gotten used to being an imperial CEO who was the final decider on various matters and was far removed from the nitty-gritty of various implementation matters. I gave this book 3 stars despite its glorification of a mediocre Treasury Secretary, because it richly describes events that show O'Neill's lack of judgement and his hubris that he could change the world. Ron Suskind seems to have done extensive research (no doubt with ample assistance by Paul O'Neill) and spoken to various folks. I only wish he had been less partial to Paul O'Neill and thus more balanced. That balanced handling of the subject matter would have earned 4 stars from me! All in all, it is worth a quick read if you have not read any other book about the 43rd administration to understand the extent of dysfunction that existed in that administration.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kurt

    This book was a little difficult to get into at first. Being a first-hand account of actual events in a political setting, the book is definitely not fast-paced. So much of the real action in this book happens behind the scenes, and even out of the direct view of the book's subject, Paul O'Neill, that the reader is left to infer what actually must have been happening behind those scenes. However, by the end of the book, no doubt is left as to the character, motives, activities, and ideologies of This book was a little difficult to get into at first. Being a first-hand account of actual events in a political setting, the book is definitely not fast-paced. So much of the real action in this book happens behind the scenes, and even out of the direct view of the book's subject, Paul O'Neill, that the reader is left to infer what actually must have been happening behind those scenes. However, by the end of the book, no doubt is left as to the character, motives, activities, and ideologies of the men and women that actually run this country today. A good book, but it requires some patience. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book: (On Ideology) "I think an ideology comes out of feelings and it tends to be non-thinking. A philosophy, on the other hand, can have a structured thought base. One would hope that a philosophy, which is always a work in progress, is influenced by facts. So there is a constant interplay between what do I think and why do I think it . . . "Now, if you gather more facts and have more experience, especially with things that have gone wrong-those are especially good learning tools-then you reshape your philosophy, because the facts tell you you've got to. It doesn't change what you wish for. I mean, it's okay to wish for something that's outside of your fact realm. But it's not okay to confuse all that . . . "Ideology is a lot easier, because you don't have to know anything or search for anything. You already know the answer to everything. It's not penetrable by facts. It's absolutism." (On Loyalty) "Loyalty and inquiry are inseparable to me," and that may be where he and the President most fundamentally diverged. Bush demands a standard of loyalty - loyalty to an individual, no matter what - that O'Neill could never swallow. "That's a false kind of loyalty, loyalty to a person and whatever they say or do, that's the opposite of real loyalty, which is loyalty based on inquiry, and telling someone what you really think and feel - your best estimation of the truth instead of what they want to hear." (On the Iraq War) O'Neill was deeply fearful about the United States "grabbing a python by the tail, by dropping a hundred thousand troops into the middle of twenty-four million Iraqis and an Arab world of one billion Muslims. Trust me, they haven't thought this through," he said. He was still hoping there would be "a real evidentiary hearing and a genuine debate" before troops were committed. He knew that wasn't likely.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Frederick Bingham

    The story of Paul O'Neill, Bush's first treasury secretary, from '2001 until he was fired in December '2003. He describes the inner workings of the Bush administration. He discusses how the intrigues and political backstabbing worked. How Cheney pulled the strings from behind the scenes. How moderate members of the administration, like Colin Powell and Christine Whitman, got screwed over. How Bush was completely clueless when it came to complex issues like global warming and tax policy. How Bush The story of Paul O'Neill, Bush's first treasury secretary, from '2001 until he was fired in December '2003. He describes the inner workings of the Bush administration. He discusses how the intrigues and political backstabbing worked. How Cheney pulled the strings from behind the scenes. How moderate members of the administration, like Colin Powell and Christine Whitman, got screwed over. How Bush was completely clueless when it came to complex issues like global warming and tax policy. How Bush listened to numerous briefs and could not think of any intelligent questions to ask.One of the most revealing moments is when the Bush transition team is interviewing O'Neill for the job. They have a long meeting in which O'Neill discusses tax policy, the federal budget, interest rates and the like. All Bush can add to this conversation is to yell at his chief of staff to get them some cheeseburgers.Another interesting scene is a discussion of the proposed energy bill. The cabinet had a meeting to discuss the issue that was completely stage managed by Cheney, who drafted the bill with a bunch of his buddies in secret. Only certain people were allowed to speak, not including Whitman, and especially not anyone with a contrary opinion. The meeting was held to ratify a decision that had already been made by Cheney. There was no debate or dialog, or consideration of any alternative.One of the most discussed revelations of the book is the fact that the administration was talking about invading Iraq from the moment it came into office. Any discussion was not about why it needed to be done, or whether it was a good idea. They only discussed how best to go about it, having already made up their mind that it was going to happen.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Awesome book, just wonderful. I picked this up on a whim at the American Library in Paris of all places, and sped right through it. As a someone who describes themselves as "center-left" (whatever that means) I didn't think I would enjoy reading about the Bush administration, much less some cabinet member. But very shortly into the book I found Paul O'Neail (Bush's first Sec. of Treas. to be a fascinating, very bright, pragmatic, and moderate-right policy maker. I really enjoy reading about 'beh Awesome book, just wonderful. I picked this up on a whim at the American Library in Paris of all places, and sped right through it. As a someone who describes themselves as "center-left" (whatever that means) I didn't think I would enjoy reading about the Bush administration, much less some cabinet member. But very shortly into the book I found Paul O'Neail (Bush's first Sec. of Treas. to be a fascinating, very bright, pragmatic, and moderate-right policy maker. I really enjoy reading about 'behind-the-scenes" meetings of our country's leaders. For example, the book goes into detail about Bush and Cheney's wooing of O'Neil to leave Alcoa (his company) and run the Treasury. The book details O'Neil's tenure and growing frustration (which, by the way, seems to parallel many of the administration's higher up's experiences) with Bush's policymaking (or lack there of) and his eventual ouster from the administration. Okay, reading over what I just wrote this probably sounds like a boring book that no one would want to read...but it's great! The pulitzer-prize winning author Ron Suskind does an INCREDIBLE job of reporting and journalism. I like his writing style, so so. It's a bit too abbreviated - with a lot of hyphens - like this - instead of writing like an adult - and using correct punctuation. But his reporting is par none. Don't listen to me. Goto amazon and check out reviews by people who actually know how to write them.

  18. 5 out of 5

    David Sakrison

    A chilling look inside the Bush White House, from the perspective of a cabinet member--Bush's ex-Treasury Secretary. If you had any doubts that George W. Bush is the most insulated, most anti-intellectual, and possibly least competent president in recent history, this book will settle the matter. Suskind's book and O'Neill's testimony make it absolutely clear that Bush and his cronies came into the White House determined to attack Iraq, long before 9/11. The book paints a convincing portrait of a A chilling look inside the Bush White House, from the perspective of a cabinet member--Bush's ex-Treasury Secretary. If you had any doubts that George W. Bush is the most insulated, most anti-intellectual, and possibly least competent president in recent history, this book will settle the matter. Suskind's book and O'Neill's testimony make it absolutely clear that Bush and his cronies came into the White House determined to attack Iraq, long before 9/11. The book paints a convincing portrait of an administration with no real policy except politics. It's been said that Americans get the government they deserve. In George W. Bush, a people that disdains history, idolizes the likes of Paris Hilton, can't be bothered to vote, wants their news in 20 second sound bites, and whose high school students cannot locate Canada on a map, now have the ignorant, arrogant, anti-intellectual president we deserve. God help us.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Michael P.

    This is a must-read book for anyone who wants to understand the administration of George W Bush, his commitment to invading Iraq, and his disastrous financial policies. It is the story of Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill as told to the author, who attended the first Cabinet meeting far in advance of 9/11, yet all the talk was of finding a way to invade Iraq and making it work. It reveals his meetings with the secretive Dick Cheney, and how these were about saying what Cheney wanted to hear. He re This is a must-read book for anyone who wants to understand the administration of George W Bush, his commitment to invading Iraq, and his disastrous financial policies. It is the story of Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill as told to the author, who attended the first Cabinet meeting far in advance of 9/11, yet all the talk was of finding a way to invade Iraq and making it work. It reveals his meetings with the secretive Dick Cheney, and how these were about saying what Cheney wanted to hear. He reveals that people above his level set fiscal policy, and that he was expected to endorse it publicly while his own advice was ignored. Most chilling, perhaps, is a meeting where he explains why a new policy must be adopted, but the President is simply not able to understand it. It was a sad day for America when the Bush/Cheney cabal was given power, and this book by an insider whose natural sympathies is with them, proves it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    While I don’t agree with many of O’Neill’s stances – privatizing Social Security, tax cuts, etc. – I do agree with his condemnation of the Bush Administration’s insular and political decision making. As O’Neill notes, there are no “honest brokers” in the Administration who are able or willing to give the President a briefing based on facts rather than on “what the base likes.” Routinely, Bush is portrayed as a simpleton who either has no curiosity or doesn’t know what questions to ask. Overall, While I don’t agree with many of O’Neill’s stances – privatizing Social Security, tax cuts, etc. – I do agree with his condemnation of the Bush Administration’s insular and political decision making. As O’Neill notes, there are no “honest brokers” in the Administration who are able or willing to give the President a briefing based on facts rather than on “what the base likes.” Routinely, Bush is portrayed as a simpleton who either has no curiosity or doesn’t know what questions to ask. Overall, O’Neill’s critiques – backed up by 19,000 documents that crossed his desk in his two years as Secretary of Treasury – aren’t that damning, but having them come from the former Alcoa CEO adds a significant weight to his concerns.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    It was interesting to re-visit the first George W. Bush presidency. There are a lot of great insights in this book, and I think Paul O'Neill's reputation as a straight shooter and the fact that Ron Suskind worked a long time for the Wall Street Journal give the book a lot of credibility. I think it's interesting both from a historical perspective to gain insights on the GW Bush first term's thinking but also for those interested in public administration and management due to O'Neill's (also an i It was interesting to re-visit the first George W. Bush presidency. There are a lot of great insights in this book, and I think Paul O'Neill's reputation as a straight shooter and the fact that Ron Suskind worked a long time for the Wall Street Journal give the book a lot of credibility. I think it's interesting both from a historical perspective to gain insights on the GW Bush first term's thinking but also for those interested in public administration and management due to O'Neill's (also an innovative thinker in management approaches) thoughts on the process behind many of the first term decisions and the contrast with other presidential administrations.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Angela Chang

    This was a very readable book! I learned a lot about how politics works from an insider, and it made me reconsider what I thought happened during Paul O'Neill's tenure at the treasury. I hadn't really read much about how political leaders made decisions before. I was saddened by the lack of direction shown by the leader of the US, and I hope we do not make the same mistakes again. I resonated with the ideal of trying to do the right thing, and making decisions based on facts. The book showed ver This was a very readable book! I learned a lot about how politics works from an insider, and it made me reconsider what I thought happened during Paul O'Neill's tenure at the treasury. I hadn't really read much about how political leaders made decisions before. I was saddened by the lack of direction shown by the leader of the US, and I hope we do not make the same mistakes again. I resonated with the ideal of trying to do the right thing, and making decisions based on facts. The book showed very clearly how partisan ideology gets in the way of logic, and can have terrible effects on a nation.

  23. 4 out of 5

    John

    Paul O'Neill was G. W. Bush's Treasury Secretary for the first two years of his administration. He had a reputation for speaking truth to power during his two years in office, until he was fired at the end of 2002. Having worked in both the Nixon and Ford administrations, he provides intelligent commentary on what the Bush administration was lacking - mostly a process to consider and vet policy options. This is a must-read for any policy wonk (regardless of political affiliation), or anyone inte Paul O'Neill was G. W. Bush's Treasury Secretary for the first two years of his administration. He had a reputation for speaking truth to power during his two years in office, until he was fired at the end of 2002. Having worked in both the Nixon and Ford administrations, he provides intelligent commentary on what the Bush administration was lacking - mostly a process to consider and vet policy options. This is a must-read for any policy wonk (regardless of political affiliation), or anyone interested in how organizations that are larger than human scale should operate.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

    My friend Lis recommended this book. I think I picked it up once and had trouble getting into it, but after the first 40 pages or so, it is definitely worth reading. If there is any book that I would read before the November presidential election, it would be this one. What is truly frightening is Secretary O'Neil's description of the inter-workings of the Bush presidency and their financial dealings during the Secretary's time in office. I wish someone would do a movie/documentary on the federal My friend Lis recommended this book. I think I picked it up once and had trouble getting into it, but after the first 40 pages or so, it is definitely worth reading. If there is any book that I would read before the November presidential election, it would be this one. What is truly frightening is Secretary O'Neil's description of the inter-workings of the Bush presidency and their financial dealings during the Secretary's time in office. I wish someone would do a movie/documentary on the federal government's financial workings. This would be a good place to start.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Susie

    I actually still think this is one of the best criticisms of the Bush White House that is out there. It doesn't go off on a screed, but it is completely devastating. Through the microcosm of their treatment of Paul O'Neill, you get a really thorough understanding of what the hell went wrong. Everyone (except for the loony 25% fringe) says it now, but it is important to remember that O'Neill was the first insider to realize the problem of letting politics trump policy. And Suskind does a great jo I actually still think this is one of the best criticisms of the Bush White House that is out there. It doesn't go off on a screed, but it is completely devastating. Through the microcosm of their treatment of Paul O'Neill, you get a really thorough understanding of what the hell went wrong. Everyone (except for the loony 25% fringe) says it now, but it is important to remember that O'Neill was the first insider to realize the problem of letting politics trump policy. And Suskind does a great job of describing O'Neill's "education."

  26. 4 out of 5

    Miebara Jato

    People who achieve success in the private sector, find it hard to replicate that success when they go into the public sector. The problem, though, is not with the person in question, especially if that person is an appointed official, but the direction of the administration, the leader, and, of course, bureaucracy. In the case of Paul, On'neil, its was a combination of all. He was forthright and gave candid recommendations to President Bush. Whose implementation, in retrospect, could've helped a People who achieve success in the private sector, find it hard to replicate that success when they go into the public sector. The problem, though, is not with the person in question, especially if that person is an appointed official, but the direction of the administration, the leader, and, of course, bureaucracy. In the case of Paul, On'neil, its was a combination of all. He was forthright and gave candid recommendations to President Bush. Whose implementation, in retrospect, could've helped avoid some of Bush's mistakes in office. A good example is the Iraqi invasion.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Colleen Clark

    This was one of the first reports from life inside the Bush White House. A lot of what was shocking then has become well known since. However, it's still an eye opener to read about how a long-time Republican (O'Neill) with a lot of government experience was astonished by the Bush administration. In his first interview with Bush he expected a lot of questions. Bush said nothing. There's stuff about Greenspan, early (pre 9/11) discussions about invading Iraq etc etc etc.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ronald Wise

    A welcome confirmation of my gut feelings about the current administration — I'm not going crazy! This is an informative read for anyone who noticed the major discrepencies between "news" as presented by the White House propoganda organs (CNN, FOX News) and information from alternative sources since the summer of 2002. Also very instructive as to how those large corporate contributions to W's campaign coffers reap practical results.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Boris

    How Bush screwed up the treasury department and turned a Clinton budget surplus into a huge deficit. How they gutted the treasury for no good reason. How everything was about politics and rewarding the base. How competent people (Paul Oneill) were thrown out of the Bush administration. How decisions were made without any regard for facts or reality. Why it really matters who we elect as president.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gillian Anderson

    I may not agree with O'Neil's old conservatism, but jesus, this many has integrity. An excellent window into W's executive style (passive and unquisitive). In no way did he bash Bush- which is what I liked---but be reading the facts--you are totally astonished at how unleader-like and halfhazardly our President #43 operated.

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