An unsatisfying jeremiad on the evils of the Bush administration, Pax Americana, and other avatars of the Star-Spangled Imperium.
Even those who agree with former New Yorker staff writer and Vanity Fair foreign correspondent Allman that George W. Bush has “done more than Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein to endanger America” are likely to be worn out by the time his first chapter draws to an end. Allman counters the “willful, prideful ignorance” that, he holds, surrounds the administration with a flood of ad hominem invective that, in the aggregate, makes the rhetorical excesses of Al Franken and Michael Moore seem tame: Colin Powell is reduced to near–house servant status, Condoleeza Rice characterized as “a third-rate, irredeemably conventional intellect,” Bush as a “dry drunk” who “taps into a powerful American syndrome of self-indulgent chauvinistic behavior.” Occasionally Allman hits a mark, as when he observes that vice president and so-called War Party stalwart Dick Cheney “has never carried so much as a slingshot in his nation’s defense,” a truth on the way to becoming a truism; and he does a nice job of likening the ascendancy of Dubya via judicial fiat to the similar promotion of Rutherford B. Hayes, whose actions and inactions in office deformed American politics for generations. Still, one has to wonder at the author’s journalistic seriousness when he utters sententious pronouncements such as, “The problem with Bush is not his IQ, but his emotional intelligence,” and when he presumes to instruct conservatives in what they believe. Many moderate-tending readers will agree with Allman that the present adventure in Iraq is a shameful diversion from the real war on terror and will share his indignation at recalling Dubya’s response to American inspectors’ failure to turn up weapons of mass destruction even after Saddam Hussein’s capture: “What difference does it make?” But these closely reasoned moments are few, and the rest is finger-pointing and -waving.
Helpful propaganda, for those who need it. Otherwise, there’s little new here, and nothing that hasn’t been said better, and less shrilly.