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Worse than Watergate: the Secret Presidency of George W. Bush.

Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush

John W. Dean

Little, Brown & Co.

New York

ISBN: 031600023X $22.95; xvii + 254 pp.

Worse Than Watergate is a powerful criminal indictment of the Bush administration. This document of the most dangerous and secret of all American presidencies is a must read, but also a sad, bitter pill to swallow. How could America have been so hijacked, so subverted, so duped? It is hard for a citizen, a patriot, to read of these incessant crimes and machinations by this Machiavellian group of militant power brokers. The malignancy infecting the current administration is disheartening and stunning. The only hope offered is the overwhelming evidence of criminality Mr. Dean has assembled and the knowledge that Nixon was brought down by the Watergate scandal. The Plame scandal alone is worse than that. Perhaps, slim though it is, there is a possible reprieve: the tidal wave of corruption they revel in will also bring down this president and end this dark chapter in American politics.

Mr. Dean, speaking from first hand experience with administrative criminality as President Nixon's former counsel, states that the Bush administration is "surprisingly Nixonian." Not only the obvious fact that most of the administration is made up of neocons who got there start with Nixon and have served en masse in every Republican administration since, but in their policies and beliefs. Dean chronicles Bush's secrecy and the Bush family penchant for seeking revenge against any who dare speak out against them. Friends and associates are openly afraid of them. But far worse than Nixon is the Bush administration's belief in absolute secrecy as the exclusive right and primary tool of the office. Stonewalling is merely like breathing and they use secrecy as a weapon--to both attack opponents from behind as fortification but also simultaneously to defend themselves from any possibility of assault. It gets psychotic though. Their love of secrecy runs to obsession and they have grown increasingly irrational in their declarations of entire segments of information and society as top secret. This has led them to repeatedly violate the law as well and overstep their authority, even going so far as issuing presidential decrees overturning existing laws (which is patently unconstitutional) in order to protect his father's papers and policies from review.

It is too detailed to get into all the points Dean made about the Bush administration's crimes, hidden agenda, scandals, and worse. One senses though that the book could have been a 1,000 pages long and not run out of material. But what is here is damning. Dean's assertion that these "high crimes and misdemeanors" of the president are far "worse than Watergate" not only have legal merit, but they have the moral authority of one who knows first hand about the evils of presidential politics. As he notes, regardless of their wall of secrecy or the outcome of the next election, history will be the true judge of this president, his administration, and their policies. This book is a first step towards recording that history.
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Author:Fortenberry, Thomas
Publication:Reviewer's Bookwatch
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 1, 2004
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