Utter Incompetents by Thomas Oliphant
Ego and Ideology in the Age of Bush

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The problem wasn’t just Iraq.

It didn’t even start with Iraq.

It was bigger than Iraq.


In fact, it was everything George W. Bush touched, from the very early flop on energy policy to the walking fiasco named Alberto Gonzales. Even adding the tragicomedy of Hurricane Katrina doesn’t come close to describing the governmental catastrophe of the Bush administration. The collapse of the Bush presidency is a broadly acknowledged fact. Everyone who’s anyone, from politicians to comedians, has taken shots at this ever-growing target. By any fair assessment, much of the past seven years has been disastrous. The challenge is to understand why.

Few analysts have stepped aside, abandoning easy hits and quick gibes, and analyzed the totality of the Bush Administration.  Now, bestselling author Thomas Oliphant does just that.  With his keen, experienced eye, he asks the simplest of questions: “How could some of the smartest, most experienced and politically savvy people in Washington screw up so badly?”

After all, this was the team led by a man with an MBA.  They came to Washington with the mission to run the government in an orderly, businesslike manner.  Instead, chaos has ensued.  How did this happen?

From domestic policy to international goofs, from soaring energy prices to the health care crisis---Thomas Oliphant tackles it all, closely inspecting the initial projections and promises of Bush and his key senior officials, and the ways in which they lost control of these well-publicized and overconfident plans.  By comparing their rhetoric to their dismal record, Oliphant provides a historic analysis of the Bush administration---showing how a system so seemingly competent and mechanized could fail so miserably, and with such frequency.

In the wake of the Republican loss of Congress  and unmet promises for future change, and as the presidential campaign to choose Bush’s successor heats up, Oliphant provides a rigorous examination of what went wrong and what this means for the next administration. Utter Incompetents is at its heart a searching look at the George W. Bush administration, its policies, and the legacy that it will leave behind on January 20, 2009.

It is also the substantive backdrop for the next president.




About Thomas Oliphant

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Thomas Oliphant has been a correspondent for The Boston Globe since 1968 and its Washington, D.C., columnist since 1989. He is a native of Brooklyn, a product of La Jolla High School in California, and a 1967 graduate of Harvard. Oliphant was one of three editors on special assignment who managed the Globe's coverage of Boston's traumatic school desegregation, reporting that was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1975. He has also won the writing award given by the American Society of Newspaper Editors. He has appeared on ABC's "`Nightline," "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," "Face The Nation," "The Today Show," "Good Morning America," and "CBS This Morning." He has been named one of the country's Top Ten political writers and one of Washington's fifty most influential journalists by Washington Magazine. Mr. Oliphant lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife, CBS correspondent Susan Spencer.
Published November 13, 2007 by Thomas Dunne Books. 308 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Although he frankly confesses his left-of-center bias, Oliphant insists that it’s not his own political perspective, but rather the behavior of the Bush administration that accounts for the severe judgment rendered here.

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