Sunday, March 13, 2005

SLC Library Recommendations

The Salt Lake City Public Library has several sets of recommended books on their website. Their nonfiction favorites for 2004 consist of 11 books. Having known many librarians and how voraciously they usually read, I curiously dug for more information on the second link in their list, "Worse than Watergate" by John Dean. My research certainly led me to some confusion. I haven't read the book. My comments here are reaction to the reaction. At, one of their "Top 10" reviewers wrote:
"For a convicted felon, John Dean is an exceptional author. I remember reading his own recollections of the Watergate affair and his own association with the subsequent events that led both to his own denouement and the resignation of Richard Nixon in disgrace in "Blind Ambition" in the mid 1970s. Once again he weighs in impressively by building a very strong circumstantial case for the investigation and possible prosecution of President George W. Bush for criminal actions that Dean terms to be indeed, "worst than those of Watergate". Culling from public records and the recollections of other eye-witnesses, Dean shows how Mr. Bush has systematically exaggerated, embellished, and engineered a series of preverifications and outright lies to the American public in an effort to convince us of the need for military intervention in Iraq."

So far so good. I read a little further. Another reviewer, one of Amazon's "Top 500", wrote:
"The most amazing revelation I found in Dean's book (though it had apparently been reported somewhere) is that the COG was activated after 9/11. COG (Continuity of Government) was a secret plan for reconstituting the U.S. government in event of a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Hundreds of federal employees were relocated to secret bunkers after 9/11, as part of the secret COG plan! What else is the Bush Administration doing that the public knows nothing about?"

So, if I'm understanding correctly, the book (and this reviewer) are critical because proper procedures were followed when it was believed that our country was under military attack? I don't see the problem, or how this makes it "worse than Watergate." Intrigued, I decide to dig a little further. I find a positive interview with the book's author at NPR. The blurb on the linked web page is mostly the opening narration to the interview. In the introduction, Liane Hansen says, "In 1973, Dean revealed the deepest secrets of the Nixon White House." Well, that is mostly what she says. In the actual audio, she actually doubles the length of the sentence by saying, "In 1973, Dean revealed the deepest secrets of the Nixon White House, sending the president into a spiral toward his resignation." Was the latter part of this sentence removed from the web page because it isn't true? I don't know the facts of Watergate well enough to know what role Dean played in the uncovering. If the first reviewer quoted above is correct, Dean was convicted of a felony, presumably in the Watergate affair.

The existence of the book, and the coverage of it beg the question, "Is being secretive a crime worthy of impeachment?" The author, according to quotes from reviewers, conflates the issue of secrecy with the issue of conspiracy. Being secretive doesn't necessarily imply conspiracy.

I kept reading and found another review of the book that was mostly positive but contained this bizarre quote that is purportedly from the book.

"The other two branches have long had their own continuity plans (in case of a nuclear catastrophe), but they rely on the executive branch to tell them when to duck and cover...Or did Bush and Cheney want only the executive branch and the presidency to survive? Or maybe they wanted succession to jump over Hastert and Byrd (both Democrats) to Powell, who is next in line -- or merely get around Byrd, since Denny Hastert’s son works for Cheney and may have been told about the COG (continuity of government plans) efforts?"

Could an author that wrote these words really be taken so seriously by someone at the SLC Public Library? Presumably the recommender actually read the book. I hope Dean will let Dennis Hastert know that he is now a Democrat. The Republicans in congress that elected him Speaker will surely be very disappointed to find out! Somebody should also let Dean in on the conventional leftist wisdom that Powell and Bush are actually enemies. This paragraph is apparently the "amazing revelation" that reviewer #2 above was talking about. You really have to be a fringe thinker to believe that Bush and company want to abolish the constitution and leave only the executive branch of government behind. Entertaining and passing along ideas like these earn the book a preemptive thumbs down from me and a second thumbs-down to the SLC Public Library for recommending it. There's nothing wrong with recommending a partisan book so long as we can accept the credibility of the author.

No comments: