Monday, January 12, 2004

Loyalty: There seems to be a bit of a media stir about Paul O'Neill's participation in this book, The Price of Loyalty, particularly when he's dishing the dirt on Bush. Some ironies here. One, in a book purportedly about loyalty, O'Neill comes across as an opportunist looking to air the grievances of a fight he lost. Kudos to the administration for not returning fire -- much. O'Neill never had the air of a guy who recognized that he was working on a team. Some cabinet appointments work out. Others don't. If every cabinet member got into a petulant snit when he didn't get his way, then went and blabbed to a reporter for a trash-the-president book . . . well, you get the idea. Sorry if your "principles" are compromised by the president's agenda. Go out and run yourself next time. Mind you, I'm generally on O'Neill's side on the issues -- Bush has been reckless with spending -- but get over it, Paul.

Two, the biggest headline so far has come from O'Neill's assertions on Iraq:

Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill contends the United States began laying the groundwork for an invasion of Iraq just days after President Bush took office in January 2001 ? more than two years before the start of the U.S.-led war that ousted Saddam Hussein.

"From the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go," O'Neill told CBS's "60 Minutes" in an interview to be aired Sunday night.

Well, someone slept through the NSC briefings, eh? Honestly, O'Neill knows that his very statement -- that Saddam was a "bad person" and "needed to go," and that we work seriously toward regime change -- has been official U.S. policy for six years. But I think he also knows that most Americans don't know that, and it gets him headlines to say so. It's like trumpeting some blockbuster "assertion" that the president has "contingency plans" to invade Cuba. Well, any president who doesn't is goddamned idiot in my book.

As for his assertions that "he never saw any evidence that Iraq (news - web sites) had weapons of mass destruction," I'm not sure I'm going to defer to the Treasury secretary (and, more to the point, one who has just made a dopey remark that makes him sound ignorant of a major tenet of U.S. foreign policy) on that matter.

More: The professor has the goods, quoting a Clinton-era official on this.

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