Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Woodward's State of Denial panned in Saudi Arabia

Amir Taheri is one of the world's best informed journalists and a reliable expert on all things in the Middle East. I have linked to his writing a couple of times. His review of Woodward's latest book (out just in time for the election and the holidays, incidentally) is pretty rough.

Among Woodward's many talents is an exceptional nose for the mood of the market. This is why "Bush At War" presented George W as a decisive leader surrounded by a team of exceptionally competent advisors and aides. This was at a time that the United Sates had just engineered the fall of the Taliban in a matter of weeks, with minimal losses for itself. The next instalment of the trilogy, "Plan of Attack" also portrayed Bush and his team in glowing terms because the US had managed to overthrow Saddam Hussein in just three weeks.

"State of Denial", however, comes at a time that a majority of Americans question Bush's handling of the Iraq in the post-Saddam extra. Therefore, Woodward repositions himself as a critic of the administration, especially of Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The same Rumsfeld who had been presented as a military wizard in Woodward's two previous books is now portrayed as an arrogant, confused and incompetent bureaucrat whose dismissal was desired by those closest to the president, including First Lady Laura Bush.

Ouch! He hits a few more nerves as he goes on, but I'm afraid he's exactly right.
These interested in more serious journalism, might be angered by Woodward's ill-informed, pretentious and flippant treatment of a complex issue. Woodward, however, must be regarded as part of the entertainment industry. Re-writing history to reflect the mood of the moment is an entertaining pursuit popular throughout the American media.

...ending with a prediction.
Here is a guess: Woodward's next book will appear after he 2008 presidential election and will reveal the "secrets" of how the winner, whoever he or she is, managed to win thanks to a team of dedicated, knowledgeable and competent aides, and despite dirty tricks played by the loser and his camp. The 2008 book will be followed by another in 2010, revealing the "secrets" of the new president's failure, brought about by incompetent aides engaged in bitter feuds.

Good take-down, I'd say. I wasn't tempted to buy the book before. Now I'm not even gonna use quotes from it, no matter how delicious they might be.

H/T John Burgess

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