January 09, 2004

Impeach Bush Now

Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill discourses on George W. Bush's competence as president:

CBS News | No Dialogue In Bush Cabinet? | January 9, 200413:51:26: President Bush was so disengaged in cabinet meetings that he "was like a blind man in a roomful of deaf people," says former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill in his first interview about his time as a White House insider.... "It's revealing," said Stahl on The Early Show Friday. "I would say it's an unflattering portrait of the White House and of the president -- and specifically, about how they make decisions."

O'Neill, fired by the White House for his disagreement on tax cuts, is the main source for an upcoming book, "The Price of Loyalty," written by former Wall Street Journal reporter Ron Suskind.... In it, Suskind builds an insider's picture of the White House drawn on interviews with O'Neill, dozens of other Bush administration insiders and 19,000 documents provided by O'Neill. A lack of dialogue, according to O'Neill, was the norm in cabinet meetings he attended. The president "was like a blind man in a roomful of deaf people," O'Neill is quoted saying in the book.

It was similar in one-on-one meetings, says O'Neill. Of his first such meeting with the president, O'Neill says, "I went in with a long list of things to talk about and, I thought, to engage [him] on...I was surprised it turned out me talking and the president just listening...It was mostly a monologue."

Posted by DeLong at January 9, 2004 11:24 AM | TrackBack

Comments

I can see this as proof of incompentence.
But doesn't say the constitution: "The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors."
Where is the high crime or misdemeanor here?

Posted by: Marcus Publius Catus on January 9, 2004 11:50 AM

____

In Reagan's case this behavior was incipient Alzheimer's. Shrub seems young for that. Maybe all the coke and booze burned out his circuits.

Posted by: David Lloyd-Jones on January 9, 2004 11:56 AM

____

makes him appear just like Pres. Reagan.

If you want to accept the great conspiracy theories about the Reb. Presidents who is really pulling the strings ?

Posted by: spencer on January 9, 2004 11:57 AM

____

It's not a matter of impaired capacity -- he never had the capacity to begin with. Nor does he give a shit about policy. We are ruled by a shallow poser who just wants to be the boss and look tough.

Posted by: The Fool on January 9, 2004 12:11 PM

____

19,000 documents...dear lord.

Posted by: praktike on January 9, 2004 12:16 PM

____

I don't think this criticism will really go any place. It's Paul O'Neill were talking about, a rather incompetent treasury secretary, after all. He got fired by the White House too, so it can easily be dismissed as sour grapes.

Posted by: Dimmy Karras on January 9, 2004 12:23 PM

____

Will O'Neill be able to make such charges stick? I guess it depends on what's in it for him. I mean, his CEO-ing days are surely over, as are his cabinet-secretary-ing days. If I recall correctly, he made a fortune at Alcoa, so he really doesn't need to make a living.

If he can make the case that he's a public spirited citizen appalled by the incompetence of the Bush Administration--and keep making the case, even in the face of the right-wing shit storm he'll have to endure--then maybe, just maybe, it will make a difference. A small one. Maybe.

But it's gonna be tough, since this administration is pretty adept at controlling the media agenda. They can raise the "threat level" whenever they want and plant stories about one shadowy plot after another.

Dear God, if there wasn't a al-Qaeda, I think Karl Rove would have to invent one.

Posted by: jlw on January 9, 2004 12:46 PM

____

But that's the way to go:

First demonstrate beyond any shadow of doubt that the current resident of WH is no good for the economy, in fact, very very bad news.

Once the judgment is there in public opinion, then get him out of Office on any thing you can -- Iraq, oil connections, whatever...

But, once again, any of that won't be necessary unless Democratic opponents are not totally incompetent.

Posted by: bulent on January 9, 2004 12:50 PM

____

Will O'Neill be able to make such charges stick? I guess it depends on what's in it for him. I mean, his CEO-ing days are surely over, as are his cabinet-secretary-ing days. If I recall correctly, he made a fortune at Alcoa, so he really doesn't need to make a living.

If he can make the case that he's a public spirited citizen appalled by the incompetence of the Bush Administration--and keep making the case, even in the face of the right-wing shit storm he'll have to endure--then maybe, just maybe, it will make a difference. A small one. Maybe.

But it's gonna be tough, since this administration is pretty adept at controlling the media agenda. They can raise the "threat level" whenever they want and plant stories about one shadowy plot after another.

Dear God, if there wasn't a al-Qaeda, I think Karl Rove would have to invent one.

Posted by: jlw on January 9, 2004 12:51 PM

____

I don't think we needed O'Neill to tell us Bush is incompetent; it is evident from his actions. My sense is that in this WH there can be no economic policy prescriptions that do not accord with received Republican dogmas. The economic advisers are smart enough to know that the form of tax-cutting favored is not efficient for stimulus, but cannot recommend violations of dogma.

Posted by: BobNJ on January 9, 2004 12:56 PM

____

Dimmy: I was rather happy when Bush appointed O'Neill, who is basically honest, as Treas. Sec. Had Bush actually listened to his Treas. Sec. - or for that matter to his economists, his Sec. of State, his ...

Posted by: Harold McClure on January 9, 2004 12:58 PM

____

Dimmy: I was rather happy when Bush appointed O'Neill, who is basically honest, as Treas. Sec. Had Bush actually listened to his Treas. Sec. - or for that matter to his economists, his Sec. of State, his ...

Posted by: Harold McClure on January 9, 2004 01:01 PM

____

I don't think we needed O'Neill to tell us Bush is incompetent; it is evident from his actions. My sense is that in this WH there can be no economic policy prescriptions that do not accord with received Republican dogmas. The economic advisers are smart enough to know that the form of tax-cutting favored is not efficient for stimulus, but cannot recommend violations of dogma.

Posted by: BobNJ on January 9, 2004 01:01 PM

____

BobNJ

Violations of dogma is exactly right. Why else would the Bush economists who used to teach their students the virtue of fiscal restraint and how high savings and investment adds to productivity growth turn around and deny crowding-out (which really is the law of scarcity) or say faster growth is possible even as savings and investment are being eliminated? Is there any economic model that claims this beyond the one taught at the University of Rove?

Posted by: Harold McClure on January 9, 2004 01:08 PM

____


O'Neill's story, that Bush is terminally disengaged, shallow, and dramatically incurious to the point of passivity, is hardly new news. Any serious observer of this administration already knows that Bush is not an actor, not the unmoved mover of this administration, and all O'Neill does is offer more confirmation of this. The Kool Kids of the SCLM are more interested in Clark wearing earth tones to appeal to women than in the suggestion that our president is fundamentally uninterested in governing, and I don't see that changing any time soon.

If there's a major crisis in which Bush's inattention is made so obvious that it cannot be ignored, expect the SCLM to _start_ making a big deal out of it, but not before then.

Posted by: NBarnes on January 9, 2004 01:10 PM

____

Reagan, particularly during his second term, was deeply disengaged and known to be so, but he was still pretty popular. But for the Constitution, he would have been re-elected to a third term. The fact that Bush is the spokesmodel for the bundle of minority interests that has become the Republican Party isn't news to the skeptical, and probably not even to the credulous. His affablity and charm, even his charming distance from his native language, just validates a loyalist's comfort with those policies. I've met plenty of Republicans who refer to his Christianity--genuine, I suspect--and apparent "goodness" as reason enough to vote for him. A few even mention how Barbara Bush taught him right from wrong and how to pray (she must have been working too hard on him to bother with Neil at all, I guess). I've heard praise of his manifest sucess at three practical careers: fighter pilot (at best, Bush lost interest in this one rather quickly), rancher (enjoyable as Crawford may be, his property is cattle ranched by lessees, and he only purchased it--he lived in a gated community in Houston, prior--in 1999), and oil man (tried very hard, failed very badly), cast against Bill Clinton's merely being a government servant. Paul O'Neil is a sober, smart man, and Ron Susskind did that terrific Esquire article on Karl Rove and the ultra-politicizing of White House policy in October of 2002, but you'd have to get a DNA-confirmed videotape of Dubya fellating Osama bin Laden to steer most of today's GOP members away from supporting him.

Posted by: Brian C.B. on January 9, 2004 01:36 PM

____

If the economy continues moving ahead, Bush will return to the White House. There could be serious cracks casued by continued lack of employment growth, or M2 could continue to shrink, or interest rates could show an interest in moving up, or the markets could change direction - but so far his plan for gettting re-elected in a lackluster economy is working just fine.

If some combination of these do not surface in the next 6 months, term two is assured. He can sleep though debates, cabinet meetings or his morning breakfast. A majority of the American people will not care.

BTW, we can celebrate the tax cuts by throwing a birthday party for 7 trillion in federal debt about noon on Saturday. Lucky us!

Posted by: Eric on January 9, 2004 02:06 PM

____

"..but you'd have to get a DNA-confirmed videotape of Dubya fellating Osama bin Laden to steer most of today's GOP members away from supporting him.."

But the matter is not really one of Mr. Bush himself. So I don't see why it should be important to convince GOP members to desert Mr. Bush.

The matter is one of getting a Dem admin in WH with an agenda to steer US away from the self-defeating and destructive course it is on, namely, (a) failing to see that radical changes are needed in the structure of political economy in order to properly handle productivty growth and / or (b) insisting on maintaining the present structure as long as possible, using a smoke screen of imagined or exagerated security threats, (c) which is weakening US by the year domestically and in all aspects of world leadership as well, and (d) that this is creating gradually a kind of security threat to US and allies next to which Al Qaeda would stand like musquioto (spell?) to uhm... "perfect storm"!

And that's really some kind of treason. It is that serious -- I think.


Posted by: Bulent Sayin on January 9, 2004 02:14 PM

____

"...7 trillion in federal debt about noon on Saturday...."


Debt to GDP already near 100 percent!!!???

Posted by: bulent on January 9, 2004 02:24 PM

____

Just for the record, Brian is probably right that Reagan would have been elected to a third term if Dukakis were the opponent -- but he wasn't all that popular. I don't have the full Gallup series at hand, but from the graph I'm looking at, it appears that at the time of the 1988 election, Reagan's approval rating was close to Ford's back in 1976. Low 50s. I only mention it because a lot of people (maybe not Brian) misremember how popular Reagan was.

I totally agree with Brian that it's hard to imagine a dump-Bush movement, and it certainly won't be triggered by the revelation that he doesn't pay close attention in Cabinet meetings.

Posted by: Mark Lindeman on January 9, 2004 02:36 PM

____

Impeachment???? It's not like the guy got a blow job or something. Get real!

Posted by: Heretic on January 9, 2004 02:58 PM

____

"It's not a matter of impaired capacity -- he never had the capacity to begin with. Nor does he give a shit about policy. We are ruled by a shallow poser who just wants to be the boss and look tough."

He's not a poser, he's a pimp. That strut announcing victory in Iraq on the aircraft carrier was a pimp walk. What's he selling? The country. Who is he selling it to? His rich friends.

Posted by: camille roy on January 9, 2004 03:00 PM

____

Impeachment???? It's not like the guy got a blow job or something. Get real!

Posted by: Heretic on January 9, 2004 03:01 PM

____

//
"...7 trillion in federal debt about noon on Saturday...."


Debt to GDP already near 100 percent!!!???
//

No, US GDP is over 10 trillions, so the debt is only nearing 70%. For more data:

http://www.publicdebt.treas.gov/opd/opdpdodt.htm

DSW

Posted by: Antoni Jaume on January 9, 2004 03:08 PM

____

...and I read this "you'd have to get a DNA-confirmed videotape of Dubya fellating Osama bin Laden's steer"...

Posted by: Marcus Sitz on January 9, 2004 03:29 PM

____

'...and I read this "you'd have to get a DNA-confirmed videotape of Dubya fellating Osama bin Laden's steer"...'

How is that Mad Cow disease spread again?

Posted by: psmacleod on January 9, 2004 05:19 PM

____

Inhaling Steerno?

Posted by: Marcus Sitz on January 9, 2004 05:23 PM

____

Actually the debt went above 7T on the 31st of Dec, then backed off again.

Posted by: big al on January 9, 2004 06:31 PM

____

Camille on The Fool:
"It's not a matter of impaired capacity -- he never had the capacity to begin with. Nor does he give a shit about policy. We are ruled by a shallow poser who just wants to be the boss and look tough."

He's not a poser, he's a pimp. That strut announcing victory in Iraq on the aircraft carrier was a pimp walk. What's he selling? The country. Who is he selling it to? His rich friends.

ie. Is the performance inadequate ( The Fool's position) or corrupted? Hard to tell, but his recent visit to the UK where he chose to speak with Her Majesty and avoided speaking in Parliament pulled me over to The Fool's position.

The man is thinner than he looks.

Posted by: calmo on January 9, 2004 07:44 PM

____

Bush has a few storms to weather yet. In February Kay is supposed to issue another interim WMD report which I've heard may just be waived. Either way he's due to quit. In May the Kean Commission is due to make their final report on 9/11. There will be further evidence of how they dropped the ball on Al Qaeda that will scratch the teflon though I doubt Kean is going to grandstand it. In July right around the Democratic convention the Supreme Court is due to rule on Cheney's Energy Task Force appeal. Even Safire thinks they were crazy not to drop it.
All this goes on while the ever shaky handover in Iraq goes on next summer in the broiling heat with still very sporadic electricity and AC. Then even if the economy is going full bore which is no sure bet and there are no major calamities like a C-5 going down at the Baghdad airport he still has his convention in what may be a decidedly unfriendly latte sipping, Volvo driving, New York Times reading, still coughing New York City.

Posted by: Mark Garrity on January 9, 2004 08:38 PM

____

Bush has a few storms to weather yet. In February Kay is supposed to issue another interim WMD report which I've heard may just be waived. Either way he's due to quit. In May the Kean Commission is due to make their final report on 9/11. There will be further evidence of how they dropped the ball on Al Qaeda that will scratch the teflon though I doubt Kean is going to grandstand it. In July right around the Democratic convention the Supreme Court is due to rule on Cheney's Energy Task Force appeal. Even Safire thinks they were crazy not to drop it.
All this goes on while the ever shaky handover in Iraq goes on next summer in the broiling heat with still very sporadic electricity and AC. Then even if the economy is going full bore which is no sure bet and there are no major calamities like a C-5 going down at the Baghdad airport he still has his convention in what may be a decidedly unfriendly latte sipping, Volvo driving, New York Times reading, still coughing New York City.

Posted by: Mark Garrity on January 9, 2004 08:40 PM

____

Bush has a few storms to weather yet. In February Kay is supposed to issue another interim WMD report which I've heard may just be waived. Either way he's due to quit. In May the Kean Commission is due to make their final report on 9/11. There will be further evidence of how they dropped the ball on Al Qaeda that will scratch the teflon though I doubt Kean is going to grandstand it. In July right around the Democratic convention the Supreme Court is due to rule on Cheney's Energy Task Force appeal. Even Safire thinks they were crazy not to drop it.
All this happens while the ever shaky handover in Iraq goes on next summer in the broiling heat with still very sporadic electricity and AC. Then even if the economy is going full bore which is no sure bet and there are no major calamities like a C-5 going down at the Baghdad airport he still has his convention in what may be a decidedly unfriendly latte sipping, Volvo driving, New York Times reading, still coughing New York City.

Posted by: Mark Garrity on January 9, 2004 08:43 PM

____

Wow, Prof. DeLong, you're really doing wonders for your credibility as someone worth listening to. Have you now totally given up on trying to be read by anyone but Bush-haters?

Posted by: Kevin on January 9, 2004 10:35 PM

____

I keep emailing my elected "representatives" (now there's a concept) to do just what you ask, but nothing happens.

Over the last few years I've developed a greater understanding of the frustrations behind the employment of ruder political mechanisms in other countries, but I'm still hung up on voting. Puts me at a disadvantage, I know, but I'm just a democracy-lovin' sonofagun.

Posted by: John H. Farr on January 9, 2004 10:44 PM

____

Brad:

If Bush was impeached now, the president is going to be Chaney. You sure that what you want?

Posted by: Leopold on January 10, 2004 12:20 AM

____

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/10/arts/10OCCU.html: The rule, known as Order 39, allows foreign investors to own Iraqi companies fully with no requirements for reinvesting profits back into the country

Uh, anybody still clueless why US invaded Iraq?

Posted by: Leopold on January 10, 2004 12:39 AM

____

It's actually not obvious that Reagan would have been elected to a third term. He was less popular than most people think by the end of his second term, considerably less popular than Clinton was even after the impeachment business. Post Iran-Contra, Reagan was basically a 50-50 president, except at the very end when he was safely headed out of office.

Probably Reagan would have been reelected against Dukakis, but presumably a lot of things would have been different in this alternate world.

Posted by: Matt McIrvin on January 10, 2004 07:28 AM

____

"Wow, Prof. DeLong, you're really doing wonders for your credibility as someone worth listening to. Have you now totally given up on trying to be read by anyone but Bush-haters?"

I wasn't aware that Paul O'Neill was a Bush-hater. Incompetent relative to the Clinton Treasury Secretaries but not a Bush-hater.

Posted by: SavageView on January 10, 2004 07:41 AM

____

"Wow, Prof. DeLong, you're really doing wonders for your credibility as someone worth listening to. Have you now totally given up on trying to be read by anyone but Bush-haters?"

I wasn't aware that Paul O'Neill was a Bush-hater. Incompetent relative to the Clinton Treasury Secretaries but not a Bush-hater.

Posted by: SavageView on January 10, 2004 07:46 AM

____

Will Ed Gillespie (or whoever the moron is who runs the RNC) now get to the publisher and nip this book in the bud?

Posted by: BobNJ on January 10, 2004 08:09 AM

____

What the hell is the matter with you people??

Don't you realize the massive import of someone from within this super-secretive, super-loyal administration coming out against it in such an important way?

This is a -huge- deal, no matter what some of the anesthetized morons on this board may say.

So stop whining that it's not going to make any difference, and start praising the man's courage so that others like him may follow.

Posted by: PaulO on January 11, 2004 04:54 AM

____

heh. All this O'Neill stuff reminds me of the sour grapes from one of Reagan's former cabinet members. Forgetting his name atm, but it was SecDef iirc (Regan perhaps). In any event, he was fired (or perhaps pushed out) and responded by bashing his former boss.

This may or may not be sour grapes at getting fired, but the point is it's difficult to be credible when you're taking pot-shots at the guy that fired you. Especially when you are taking these pot-shots a) on your own initiative vs having them "drug out of you" and b) when said pot-shots clearly benefit book sales.

Anyone that purports to know the truth about this without direct inside knowledge is simply speculating.

I believe what I see or what I can reliably infer from strong evidence. All else is uncertain, and should be presented as such.

So the "Impeach now" tagline certainly is more demagogue-ish than scholarly, in my view.

Posted by: Pragmatic Idealist on January 12, 2004 08:58 AM

____

While it saddens me to say anything that sounds even remotely like PaulO's barking....

Having a guy that sat in the room confirm much of what Bush critics have said about his plan to go to war does matter. It could have a greater impact on voter thinking than anything our host has to say, for instance. On the other hand, it may not matter very much for very long. I would guess that the book's publisher thought that the first month of a presidential election year is a good time to release the book, for business reasons. I would think that O'Neill, even if he is not the best politician who ever lived, realized he could have an impact on the election's outcome and thought that would be a good thing. What is needed, of course, is for major news outlets to give the book some play, to do so even-handedly. Certainly, the White House must have a plan to destroy O'Neill's credibility. The record isn't good (as noted in response to another of Brad's posts, NPR is touting the fall in the jobless rate as the important thing about the December jobs report), but there is always hope. With any luck, Dean or Clark or some presidential wannabe with half a lick of sense will do a good job turning O'Neill's words to Bush's disadvantage.

Posted by: K Harris on January 12, 2004 11:59 AM

____

ran into this later today:

http://www.opinionjournal.com/diary/?id=110004541

Includes this paragraph, which was my point:

"Mr. O'Neill may like to see himself as a contemporary Cyrus Vance, who in 1980 left as Jimmy Carter's Secretary of State over principled disagreements on foreign policy. But instead he resembles Don Regan, the temperamental White House chief of staff who, after President Reagan fired him, went on to write a tell-all book embarrassing his old boss with revelations about Nancy Reagan's fondness for astrologers. The book made Mr. Regan look small and it didn't do much damage to Mr. Reagan's reputation. The same will be true of Mr. O'Neill's poison-pen recollections. "

Posted by: Pragmatic Idealist on January 12, 2004 12:01 PM

____

Plame alert! Plame alert! Treasury has announced that it wants an Inspector General to review the documents used in O'Neill's TV Interview, along with (as far as I can tell from headlines) all 19,000 documents O'Neill took with him upon departure. I think they don't want anybody else to get any fancy ideas about righting unflattering books.

Posted by: K Harris on January 12, 2004 12:30 PM

____

Post a comment
















__