Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bush's Team of Super Assholes

The buzz about Robert Draper's GQ article on Donald Rumsfeld has been that Draper found material indicating that Rumsfeld viewed the Iraq War through Old Testament references.
Draper's biggest find is a collection of daily cover sheets that Rumsfeld approved for the Secretary of Defense Worldwide Intelligence Update, a highly classified digest prepared for a tiny audience, including the president, and often delivered by hand to the White House by the defense secretary himself. These cover sheets greeted Bush each day with triumphal color photos of the war headlined by biblical quotations. GQ is posting 11 of them, and they are seriously creepy.

But that's not the way the articles poses the Bible porn on the Worldwide Intelligence Update. But Maj. Gen. Glenn Schaffer was the one who took the initiative to include the Biblical imagery packaging. He was the religious zealot not Rumsfeld. According to Draper, Rumsfeld allowed Schaffer to go ahead because he thought of the Bible packaging as a good way to suck up to President Bush who seemed to appreciate any manifestation of religious zealotry.
" . . . publicly flaunting his own religious views was not at all the SecDef’s style—“Rumsfeld was old-fashioned that way,” Shaffer acknowledged when I contacted him about the briefings—but it was decidedly Bush’s style, and Rumsfeld likely saw the Scriptures as a way of making a personal connection with a president who frequently quoted the Bible.

And Bush liked the idea.
But the Pentagon’s top officials were apparently unconcerned about the effect such a disclosure might have on the conduct of the war or on Bush’s public standing. When colleagues complained to Shaffer that including a religious message with an intelligence briefing seemed inappropriate, Shaffer politely informed them that the practice would continue, because “my seniors”—JCS chairman Richard Myers, Rumsfeld, and the commander in chief himself—appreciated the cover pages.

Bush also liked the way that Rumsfeld obstructed, delayed, undercut, and otherwise threw sand into the operation of the Bush administration on defense issues. For Draper, Bush appreciated Rumsfeld's orneriness.
Bush also enjoyed Rumsfeld’s cussedness, his alpha-dog behavior toward the media. That same behavior toward his colleagues did not seem to bother the president. To Bush, rivalry was healthy, and the full extent of Rumsfeld’s conduct was not known to him for the simple reason, say aides, that they did not wish to trouble the leader of the Free World every time Rumsfeld jerked them around.

In other words, what Bush liked was that Rumsfeld was a super-asshole, that Rummy's self-centeredness, aggression, pettiness, and other negative qualities went so far beyond the normal definition of an asshole. Other Bush favorites like Dick Cheney, David Addington, and John Bolton were super-assholes as well. One has to wonder if Bush appreciated any other kinds of qualities in his subordinates.

Where Obama created what historical plagiarizer Doris Kearns Goodwin calls a "Team of Rivals," George Bush recruited America's first team of Super-Assholes.

It would have made a great comic book.

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