January 11, 2004

Power Line Puts O'Neill in Perspective

Deacon at Power Line writes an excellent post putting former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill's comments on George Bush and his administration in perspective:

Bush was under no obligation to allow O'Neill to read him and, in fact, O'Neill admitted to Time that it may have just been Bush's style to keep his advisers guessing. Moreover, it seems rather odd to expect Cheney not to have adjusted his economic views in light of developments since the heady days of Gerald Ford (for example the success of the economy under Ronald Reagan, about which Cheney tried to remind O'Neill). O'Neill's underlying complaint seems to be that Bush and Cheney favored Reaganomics over the economic policies of Ford (remember "whip inflation now?"). Whether one adjudicates between these competing approaches through ideology, expediency, or "evidence and analysis", it is difficult to dispute the administration's preference.

Besides offering this election's strangest metaphor ("like a blind man in a room full of deaf people"?), O'Neill doesn't deliver much of anything else except typically hostile anecdotes from a fired employee. Some of this sounds awfully familiar, too, like supposed Presidential detachment during meetings, blank and uncomprehending looks; it's the same stuff they trotted out about Reagan. After all, if you want to make the Left feel good about attacking a Republican, you paint them as stupid and lost, while maintaining that they are so clever that they planned an invasion of a country and connived everyone into buying into it, including the previous President and Congress in some sort of neat time-traveling trick. As during the Reagan administration, the Left's frustration boils down to how clever those stupid Republicans can be.

One other point about O'Neill's reflections on Iraq. He claims that he never saw convincing evidence of Saddam's WMDs, but unless he had some sort of tax plan for Iraqi nukes, why would a Treasury Secretary even be part of the equation? Does O'Neill truly expect that he would have access to top-secret intelligence that has nothing to do with the Treasury Department? I find it odd that the question hasn't even been asked in most stories regarding O'Neill's comments.


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