Bloggers react to Ron Suskind's new book.

Bloggers react to Ron Suskind's new book.

Bloggers react to Ron Suskind's new book.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
June 22 2006 11:19 AM

Playing the Percentages

Bloggers react to Ron Suskind's new Bush-critical book. They also take up the cudgel for an art teacher fired for baring all on Flickr, and don't know whether to laugh or cry about a new Saudi scholarship for aviation studies in the U.S.

99 chances and the veep sees 1: Ron Suskind's The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11 has become the latest nonfiction potboiler to steam the political blogosphere. Suskind, the author of The Price of Loyalty, in which former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and others harshly critiqued the White House *, portrays the administration as guided by remote contingencies in its prosecution of the war on terror, amplifying al-Qaida nonentities when not ignoring legitimate threats against U.S. security. Yet some of Suskind's sources and conclusions and motives have been called into question.

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"Reasonable conservative" Jon Swift thinks Suskind is condemned by his own title, which sardonically refers to Dick Cheney's high-octane response to the vanishingly small chance of terrorists' obtaining WMD: "Frankly, I was shocked when I read this. Is the Vice President actually saying that if there was a 0.1% chance of a terrorist attack, we would do nothing? What if there was a 0.01% chance? Or a 0.001% chance? Nothing? No Response? This is outrageous."

Andrew Sullivan, penitent for having "lionized this president in the wake of 9/11," is only mildly cautious about the merits of Suskind's reportage: "I've no doubt some of his sources are fighting back against Cheney and the president. That doesn't mean they're not real; and that what they're saying isn't true." 

One of Suskind's allegations is that captured al-Qaida "head of operations" Abu Zubaydah was more nuts than nefarious, suffering from a "split personality" that caused Osama Bin Laden to relegate him to a rank-and-file position within the apparatus. One reader of Pajamas Media affiliate Eric Umansky has a few qualified hiccups about this interpretation: "Jordan sentenced Zubaydah to death, because they believed he played a role in the millenium bombings. ... The 9/11 commission report says that Zubaydah was far more involved than Suskind reports. ... And I think most importantly, a terrorist we captured in 2001 said that Abu Zubaydah was in charge of recruiting, which is far more than just 'minor logistics.' "

Causing more lefty indigestion is some of the cited rhetoric from the president in this volume. The CIA briefer who informed Bush of the August 2001 memo titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" apparently received this in reply: "All right. You've covered your ass, now." Stop liberal Shakespeare's Sister if you've heard this one before: "Remember how he was going to be the CEO president? Well, I've worked for an asshole like that. You walk into his office and try to explain to him that something is starting to derail, some project is going over budget or some coworker is coming in drunk, try to raise the warning flag about an inevitable debacle if some hard decisions aren't made pronto, and all he can do is fiddle around with his new cell phone. ... And just like Bush, it was always someone's else's ass in the sling when everything went to shit."

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Read more about The One Percent Doctrine.

Art School Confidential: Tamara Hoover, a reputed high-school art teacher in Austin, Texas, was fired from her job after her girlfriend posted nude photos of her on Flickr.com and an antagonistic colleague tipped off school authorities. Hoover's plight has become a cause célèbre in cyberspace.

"Aurostion" at the left-leaning Liquidtoast writes: "I hope the teacher who brought this up to the administrations attention feels like crap, he or she certainly was underhanded and irresponsible. If I had kids I would certainly prefer they be taught by the Tamara Hoovers of the world than someone like the other teacher, backstabbing and spiteful."

But JohnJ at conservative The Bullwinkle Blog argues that a double standard operates in canning pedagogues for their after-school conduct: "Tamara Hoover was fired from her job as a schoolteacher for posting nude pictures of herself on the internet. She's been lionized by the media, and there's every chance she'll get her job back, with a possible settlement. Robert Smith was fired for his job on the Metro Transit Board for saying that homosexual behavior is deviant. Chances of him getting his job back? None. Media support for his 'violation' of civil rights? None."

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Gawker Media-owned tabloid Sploid posits that Austin permissiveness is being overlooked in a mad rush to get at those Texas values: "In a city where women regularly bathe top-free and its most popular homeless person walks around town in a thong, it is chilling news indeed to hear that cute punky art gals can get fired for being cute and punky. ... And indeed, what business does an art teacher have actually producing art? It's unseemly!" Speaking of the red state one shouldn't mess with: "Incidentally, the fact that Bush's daughters Jenna and Barbara attended this school might give us an insight on how this issue might settle," offers College Station, Texas, resident Patrick at the progressive Nerve Endings Firing Away.

Read more about Hoover's termination.

Come fly with us: On a day when percentages seem to count for a lot, the Saudi Arabian government has announced that a 90 percent aptitude in Quranic memorization—five points higher than the requisite science proficiency—is almost all that stands in the way of a young citizen of the kingdom and a scholarship to "study various majors related to civil aviation in the United States." This link does not direct you to The Onion.

"Do they get summer internships with the Air Marshals program, too?" asks righty Michelle Malkin, who broadcast the story in cyberspace. "Freedom Fighter" at the jihad-watchful Joshuapundit weighs both cons: "I don't know which is worse ... that our government would OK training Saudis in our flight schools or that the Saudis would be so confident of their influence over the White House that they would proceed with it."

Read more about the Saudi scholarship.

Correction, June 22: The article originally and incorrectly stated that Ron Suskind was the co-author of a memoir by former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill. Suskind wrote a book, The Price of Loyalty about O'Neill's tenure, but he was the sole author. (Return to the corrected sentence.)