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Dean: Both mean learned about the Presidency from men they greatly respected: Richard Nixon from Dwight Eisenhower, George Bush from his father. When both men became President, you got the very distinct impression that they donâ€™t feel that they quite fit in the shoes of the person from whom they learned about the Presidency. Nixon would constantly be going down to Key Biscayne, San Clemente, or Camp Davidâ€”he just didnâ€™t like being in the Oval Office. I saw this same thing with George Bush, who is constantly away. The other striking similarity is that both men talk in the third person about the office of the President. Itâ€™s like the royal we. You look at other Presidents, like Reagan and Clinton, who clearly filled that office. You almost had to pry Clinton out at the end of his term. And Reagan, despite whatever weaknesses he had intellectually, filled the role of President and played it to the hilt. So Bush has a Nixonian distance from the White House.
And I was stunned at the secrecy of this Administration. I knew that thereâ€™s no good that can come out of secrecy. So I began looking closely at Bush and finding the striking Nixonian features of this Presidency: Itâ€™s almost as if weâ€™d left an old playbook in the basement, they found it, dusted it off, and said, â€śThis stuff looks pretty good, we ought to give it a try.â€ť As I dug in, and still had some pretty good sources within that Presidency, I found the principal mover and shaker of this Presidency is clearly Dick Cheney, who is not only reviving the Imperial Presidency but expanding it beyond Nixonâ€™s wildest dreams.
The reason I wrote a book with the title â€śWorse than Watergate,â€ť and I was very cautious in using that title, is because there was a real difference: Nobody died as a result of the so-called abuses of power during Nixonâ€™s Presidency. You might make the exception of, say, the secret bombing of Cambodia, but that never got into the Watergate litany per se. You look at Bushâ€™s abuses, and Cheneyâ€™sâ€”to me, itâ€™s a Bush/ Cheney Presidencyâ€”and today, people are dying as a result of abuse of power. Thatâ€™s much more serious.
I do. It was evident, even at the beginning, when Cheney was very confident they were going to win at the Supreme Court. Iâ€™ve got some friends who were in there and they were telling me what was happening, and they said Bush doesnâ€™t have a clue whatâ€™s going on. Cheneyâ€™s setting things up the way he wants. Heâ€™s designing a National Security Council thatâ€™s more powerful than the statutory National Security Council under Condoleezza Rice. And it was, and it is. She was the perfect foil for him because he can roll over her anytime he wants, and he does. Putting her over at State is even better: Keep her out on the road. The Cheney-Rumsfeld connection has really been driving the foreign policy since day one.
“We like to say that dependability is more important than ability,” Bill Belichickism....
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