As much as I’ve wanted Paul O’Neill’s recent revelations to be true and finally make Bush supporters think twice about their leader, I’m kind of skeptical about the whole thing. Let me explain why.
I tend to look at motive when something shocking comes out and there’s the matter of him being a bad enough official to get fired and the way he used a new book to reveal his story. Those things point to him perhaps trying to seek revenge on a former employer and an obvious financial interest in generating publicity. Let me state again that I want it to be true, and this is just my way of doing due dilligence before making a decision about an issue or news item. I could excuse most of the criticism I heard of O’Neill and I was ready to buy his whole story until I heard him and Ron Suskind, the author of the new book, on NPR yesterday.
Listen for yourself and know that while I listened with a bit of a skeptic’s ear, I couldn’t help but notice what a slimeball Ron Suskind comes off as. It’s not just me, right?
The show basically follows a pattern: Terry asks O’Neill a question to which he’ll slowly give a semi-answer to, then Ron butts in to explain in exhaustive detail what “Paul meant by what he just said.” O’Neill wasn’t nearly as harsh about the Bush presidency on the air, which surprised me from everything I read. I hate to use this term, but it feels like the story is just spin, and I got furious listening to Suskind tweak everything O’Neill said into the worst possible indictment of the Bush admin.
Whenever a story comes out, always go to the first sources if you can. Hearing the statements right from the horse’s mouth in this case, I can’t help but feel O’Neill had some genuine beefs with his former boss and had a few good points about how poorly they run some processes (like stacking economics and energy meetings with like-minded industry instead of getting input from a range of interested parties), but on the whole those points are lost as Suskind brewed mountains out of molehills.