The Price of Loyalty


by Ron Suskind (Simon & Schuster)


(This column first appeared in the April 22, 2004 issue of ArtVoice of Buffalo.)


Ron Suskind's The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill confirms the liberal view that this nation's current administration is governing for strictly selfish and political goals, never mind the consequences. And O'Neill is far from a liberal himself: a former Alcoa president and multimillionaire, he was Bush's Secretary of Treasury until he was summarily fired. By then he had already been frozen out of economic planning by the deficit hawks, Cheney -- "Reagan proved that deficits don't matter" -- Lindsey, Rove and Hubbard. Suskind paints O'Neill as a good guy and, whereas I disagree with some of his ideas -- investing your own retirement benefits, for example -- I am convinced that he considers facts instead of opinion polls. As he says, "Our group was mostly about evidence and analysis, and Karl [Rove], Dick [Cheney], Karen [Hughes], and the gang seemed to be mostly about politics. It's a huge distinction." And O'Neill is outspoken. He violates "the central tenet of Washington financial life: never use the English language to convey meaning." Interestingly, although Dick Clarke mentions O'Neill several times in his book Against All Enemies, his name never comes up here. But O'Neill confirms Clarke's message about Iraq: finding a justification to launch a ground war against that country was front and center to the Bush administration from its first week in office.-- Gerry Rising