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Just posted by GNN: Long time Bush family friend and ghostwriter shares insights from 20 interviews with candidate Bush: Bush Wanted To Invade Iraq If Elected: GNN exclusive by Russ Baker  
"He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999," said author and journalist Mickey Herskowitz. "It was on his mind. He said to me: `One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.' And he said, `My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.' He said, `If I have a chance to invade....if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency."

"He told me that as a leader, you can never admit to a mistake," Herskowitz said. "That was one of the keys to being a leader."

More beneath the fold.

Herskowitz was eventually pulled from the Bush biography because the campaign didn't think he was framing W positively enough. According to the author it was Bush's own accounts of his "floundering" business ventures and an unserved but "excused" final two years in the national guard that provoked Karen Hughes' displeasure. She ultimately provided the rewrite.

Herskowitz himself is considered the ultimate "as-told-to" author, lending credibility to his account of what George W. Bush told him. Herskowitz's other books run the gamut of public figures, and include the memoirs of Reagan aide Deaver, former Texas Governor and Nixon Treasury Secretary John Connally, newsman Dan Rather, astronaut Walter Cunningham, and baseball greats Mickey Mantle and Nolan Ryan.

Read the article for Bush Sr.'s disapproval of the Iraq invasion & more.

Originally posted to thecarriest on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 01:00 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  in other words (none)
    this guy is has some pretty good credible so as not to be portrayed as out of his mind or just trying to get back at Bush for not being able to ghost write his book.

    Of course, it isn't surprising in the least that Bush wanted to invade Iraq way back when...

    "I want my country back!" - Howard Dean (proud member, reality-based community)

    by ziggy on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 12:10:46 AM PDT

  •  Wow (none)
    Long article, but an impressive read. RECOMMEND this one. There's so much other shit in the air right now that this may not do much, but seriously -- this fits right in with Richard Clarke's and Bob Woodward's first-person accounts of Bush's motivation, and in fact it dates the ambition to start an Iraq war (any war, really, but Iraq had a special meaning for W) back to 1999.

    Mickey Herskowitz certainly seems like an unimpeachable source. He was chosen to write the 2003 biography of Prescott Bush by GWB and GHWB. That alone means he's incredibly trusted by the family. (Well, he was until this.)

    Wow. Like I said ... I fear it may be too late for this to have an impact on the election, but we need to push it anyway. Any way you slice it this is an interview for the history books.

    Now, of course, we'll see the usual smear campaign against Herskowitz begin. But it's good to see that the tape recorder is going to give the lie to any claims of "I didn't say that!" If I were Russ Baker I'd get it digitzed to MP3 and prepare to leak it if necessary.

  •  money quotes (4.00)
    Bush says in 1999 that if he has a chance to invade, he'll do it.

    "He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999," said author and journalist Mickey Herskowitz. "It was on his mind. He said to me: `One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.' And he said, `My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.' He said, `If I have a chance to invade....if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency."

    9/11 gave him the chance, and he jumped at it.

    Herskowitz said that Bush expressed frustration at a lifetime as an underachiever in the shadow of an accomplished father. In aggressive military action, he saw the opportunity to emerge from his father's shadow. The moment, Herskowitz said, came in the wake of the September 11 attacks. "Suddenly, he's at 91 percent in the polls, and he'd barely crawled out of the bunker."

    Herskowitz was of the opinion that the GOP leadership is convinced that war is the key to getting the political capital needed to pass your agenda.

    According to Herskowitz, George W. Bush's beliefs on Iraq were based in part on a notion dating back to the Reagan White House - ascribed in part to now-vice president Dick Cheney, Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee under Reagan. "Start a small war. Pick a country where there is justification you can jump on, go ahead and invade."

    Bush's circle of pre-election advisers had a fixation on the political capital that British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher collected from the Falklands War. Said Herskowitz: "They were just absolutely blown away, just enthralled by the scenes of the troops coming back, of the boats, people throwing flowers at [Thatcher] and her getting these standing ovations in Parliament and making these magnificent speeches."

    Despite agreeing that a small war would be a good thing, Herskowitz is strongly of the opinion that GHWB knew that Iraq would be too big to handle and was opposed to the war GWB chose. Why? Because Scowcroft came out against it, and he wouldn't have done so without GHWB's nod.

    Republicans, Herskowitz said, felt that Jimmy Carter's political downfall could be attributed largely to his failure to wage a war. He noted that President Reagan and President Bush's father himself had (besides the narrowly-focused Gulf War I) successfully waged limited wars against tiny opponents - Grenada and Panama - and gained politically. But there were successful small wars, and then there were quagmires, and apparently George H.W. Bush and his son did not see eye to eye.

    "I know [Bush senior] would not admit this now, but he was opposed to it. I asked him if he had talked to W about invading Iraq. "He said, `No I haven't, and I won't, but Brent [Scowcroft] has.' Brent would not have talked to him without the old man's okaying it." Scowcroft, national security adviser in the elder Bush's administration, penned a highly publicized warning to George W. Bush about the perils of an invasion.

    Back on the campaign trail... Bush even mentioned taking out Iraq rather flippantly in 1999, as if it wouldn't be a big deal.

    Herskowitz's revelations are not the sole indicator of Bush's pre-election thinking on Iraq. In December 1999, some six months after his talks with Herskowitz, Bush surprised veteran political chroniclers, including the Boston Globe's David Nyhan, with his blunt pronouncements about Saddam at a six-way New Hampshire primary event that got little notice: "It was a gaffe-free evening for the rookie front-runner, till he was asked about Saddam's weapons stash," wrote Nyhan. `I'd take `em out,' [Bush] grinned cavalierly, `take out the weapons of mass destruction...I'm surprised he's still there," said Bush of the despot who remains in power after losing the Gulf War to Bush Jr.'s father...It remains to be seen if that offhand declaration of war was just Texas talk, a sort of locker room braggadocio, or whether it was Bush's first big clinker."

    I guess now, tens of thousands of lives later, hundreds of billions of dollars later, 380 tons of explosives into the hands of terrorists later, we know exactly what it was.

    •  What the FUCK? (none)
      Republicans, Herskowitz said, felt that Jimmy Carter's political downfall could be attributed largely to his failure to wage a war. He noted that President Reagan and President Bush's father himself had (besides the narrowly-focused Gulf War I) successfully waged limited wars against tiny opponents - Grenada and Panama - and gained politically. But there were successful small wars, and then there were quagmires, and apparently George H.W. Bush and his son did not see eye to eye.
      "I know [Bush senior] would not admit this now, but he was opposed to it. I asked him if he had talked to W about invading Iraq. "He said, `No I haven't, and I won't, but Brent [Scowcroft] has.' Brent would not have talked to him without the old man's okaying it." Scowcroft, national security adviser in the elder Bush's administration, penned a highly publicized warning to George W. Bush about the perils of an invasion.

      This just goes to show how stupid these guys are!  They think everything revolves around wars.  If that's true you stupid fucks, then why did George H.W. Bush lose reelection?  How did Clinton win without really engaging in any real wars (Bosnia hardly counts as a war, we just bombed it.  Besides wasn't that his second term?).  

      These guys are so stupid it's not even funny.  Starting a war should not be part of your fucking reelection campaign.  Just another example of how Republicans don't give a damn about the welfare of thsi country.  

      In Britain they admit to having royalty. In the United States we pretend we don't have any, and then we elect them president.

      by Asak on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 02:24:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  oh, it hurts (none)

      Bush and his advisers were sold on the idea that it was difficult for a president to accomplish an electoral agenda without the record-high approval numbers that accompany successful if modest wars.

      All the death and dying in Iraq was just to boost his numbers so he could get his tax cuts through.

      Oh, it's despicable.  How can 48% of the country still support this flatulent fraud.

  •  Bush's Idiocy (4.00)
    `My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.'

    Your father didn't waste anything, chief. He realized, as you evidently still do not, that invading Iraq would result in a terrible quagmire that would have limited benefits and a terrible cost. Maybe you'll realize it in 5 days, when we throw your sorry ass out on the street for turning unprecedented national goodwill, and an unprecedented ability to fight international terrorist organizations, into a mallet to bludgeon people into supporting your insane agenda of preemptive war and tax cuts.

    Wow, that felt really good. I guess the anger is from replaying the "Mosh" music video so many times.

    Visit the PagodaBlog for hackneyed totally original political and philosophic commentary.

    by Juppon Gatana on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 12:54:55 AM PDT

    •  What was "wasted"... (none)
      I think W is referring to his fathers lack of an extreme swing to the right during and after GW1. Bush Sr. continued with a fairly moderate course after GW 1 and thus "wasted" his high approval rating.
  •  Excellent (none)
    More fuel for my infuriation. So many lives lost as a result of Bush's little power play. So much squandered for the silly dream of a very very small man.
  •  Fix the top link (none)
    There are two links to the article, and the top one is malformed and broken. The bottom one works.
  •  This is not a surprise to me (none)
    But the possibility of taped evidence of this is exciting. I have to read through it. But this diary should survive the cut, in the meantime. This is an excellent find! Recommending!

    I reserve the right to revise and extend my remarks in Sozadee CA.

    by The Messenger on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 06:59:21 AM PDT

  •  Ah,,, too bad... (none)
    No Tapes of GWB's voice have survived....

    I reserve the right to revise and extend my remarks in Sozadee CA.

    by The Messenger on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 07:12:28 AM PDT

    •  no, but (none)
      The tapes are interviews with Mickey Herskowitz. This is the guy who wrote not one, but TWO authorized biographies -- one of GWB, one of Prescott Bush. He interviewed GWB about 20 times and presumably had similar, very close access to GHWB and others for the Prescott Bush book.

      By the way, the article suggests he was replaced as a ghostwriter, but if you look on Amazon you'll see that only GWB is listed as an author for the 1999 edition, but for the 2001 edition both GWB and Herskowitz are listed as co-authors. I'm guessing either he went back and did some editing and cleanup or something, or they wanted to get him credited to better market the Prescott Bush book.

      So no ... no direct quotes on tape from Bush. But we're talking about direct quotes on tape from Bush's personal biographer. And he is very, very clearly a friendly voice for them -- he just lapsed into honesty, which is a big no-no.

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