I am a little late in slogging through Bob Woodward's State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III, as it was all the buzz back in September and October. I wasn't particularly eager to read the book, but felt as though I needed to do so. In his telling of the now-familiar story, Woodward proves too much, in my view, piling on anecdote after anecdote.
The work does confirm and solidify the popular perception of the major characters that has taken hold in the country. Bush is seen as well-meaning, but clueless, stubborn and worst of all, incurious. Cheney is, well, Cheney. Rumsfeld is an arrogant, tyrannical micro-manager. Rice is brilliant, loyal, but ultimately ineffectual. Powell is wise and insightful, but shut-out of the crucial decisions. One surprise is how out-of-the-loop Cheney appears to be once the Iraq war effort is churning along. When you start a war, they have a way of taking on a life of their own.
Another surprise was the long-term relationship between Saudi Prince Bandar and Bush. Theirs was a teacher-student relationship, with Bandar being a mentor of Bush from the onset of his Presidential itch. And in a book that is chock-full of outrages, what gave me pause was a relatively minor aside dealing with Bush's religious impulses and his relationship with the Saudis. A selection follows:
Whenever Bush saw or talked with the Crown Prince he referred to their shared, deep belief in God. The Crown Prince sent Bush a prayer, which the president told Bandar he used.
"This is the most precious thing I ever got," the president said.
Why take umbrage over this little item, of all things? I suppose this is a pet peeve of mine, and I tend to get a bit radical with it. Well, it is one thing to mouth public platitudes about how "we're all children of Abraham," and how the Muslim worships the God of Abraham just as Christians and Jews do--indeed, one has come to expect such talk. Such blather suffices for our ubiquitous "inter-faith dialogues" and such like. But it is altogether a different thing to actually believe it, as Bush apparently does. So, if I have this correct, Bush is fond of praying this Saudi prayer, a prayer sent him by the very Protector of Wahhabism. I'm sorry, but whoever equates the triune God with the Allah of Islam (that untidy mishmash of Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, paganism and tribal superstition)--well, that person has a thin grasp of either concept.
There, I've got the rant out of my system. I'll put up my soapbox now and return to being calm and collected. But it is worse than I ever imagined.