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Book Tells Of Dissent In Bush's Inner Circle
The book offers more than 400 footnotes, but Draper does not make clear the sourcing for some of the more arresting assertions -- such as the one about Roberts's role in the Miers nomination, which has previously not come to light. Roberts's nomination was highly praised by conservatives, and they criticized Miers as lacking conservative credentials.
White House spokesman Tony Fratto said yesterday that he had no comment on the book, including the claim about the Miers nomination.
Draper offers some intriguing details about Bush's personal habits, such as his intense love of biking. He reports that White House advance teams and the Secret Service "devoted inordinate energy to satisfying Bush's need for biking trails," descending on a town a couple of days before the president's arrival to find secluded hotels and trails the boss would find challenging.
He also makes new disclosures about the behind-the-scenes infighting at the White House that helped prompt the change from Card to Bolten in the spring of 2006. By that point, he reports, some close to the president had concluded that "the White House management structure had collapsed," with senior aides Rove and Dan Bartlett "constantly at war."
He quotes Gillespie as telling one Republican while running interference for Alito's Supreme Court nomination: "I'm going crazy over here. I feel like a shuttle diplomat, going from office to office. No one will talk to each other."
It has been reported that Card first suggested he be replaced to help rejuvenate the White House. But Draper writes that Bush settled on Bolten, then director of the Office of Management and Budget, as the new chief of staff before telling Card. When Card congratulated Bolten on his new assignment, he writes, Bolten "could tell that Card was somewhat surprised and hurt that Bush had moved so swiftly to select a replacement."
Rove, meanwhile, was not happy, Draper writes, with Bolten's decision to strip him of his oversight of policy at the White House, directing his focus instead to politics and the coming midterm elections. Bolten noticed that other staffers were "intimidated" by Rove, and Rove was seen as doing too much, "freelancing, insinuating himself into the message world . . . parachuting into Capitol Hill whenever it suited him."
Draper offers little additional insight on or details of Cheney's large influence in administration policy. But he writes that the vice president did find himself ruminating over mistakes made, chief among them installing L. Paul Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority to run Iraq for a year after the invasion. Instead, Draper suggests, Cheney believes that the White House should have set up a provisional government right away, as Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress recommended from the beginning.
Several of Bush's top advisers believe that the president's view of postwar Iraq was significantly affected by his meeting with three Iraqi exiles in the Oval Office several months before the 2003 invasion, Draper reports.
He writes that all three exiles agreed without qualification that "Iraq would greet American forces with enthusiasm. Ethnic and religious tensions would dissolve with the collapse of Saddam's regime. And democracy would spring forth with little effort -- particularly in light of Bush's commitment to rebuild the country."
In the CIA leak scandal, Rove assured Bush, Draper reports, that he had known nothing about Valerie Plame, a CIA operative whose covert status was revealed by administration officials to reporters after Plame's husband criticized the administration's case for war in Iraq. "When Bush learned otherwise," he said, "he hit the roof."
Bush considered whether to cooperate with the book for several months, Draper reports. The two men met for the first time on Dec. 12, 2006, and at the conclusion, the president agreed to another interview. In one of the interviews, he looked ahead to his post-presidency, talking of his plans to build an institute focused on freedom and to "replenish the ol' coffers" by giving paid speeches.
He told Draper he could see himself shuttling between Dallas and Crawford. Noting that he ran into former president Bill Clinton at the United Nations last year, Bush added, "Six years from now, you're not going to see me hanging out in the lobby of the U.N."