New book offers verbatim critique of George W. Bush presidency

"Tortured Logic" examines the George W. Bush years by demonstrating how a form of newspeak used by the administration became entrenched in the historical record.

The book’s foreword gives readers a taste of the work, a verbatim critique of the Bush presidency through a writing approach that links quotes together to create a pattern of history.

“This mode is like a Spanish tapas bar – a series of tiny dishes that offer the reader a sampling of the tangiest fare available anywhere. The quotes come from a Who’s Who of the best reporters, analysts and sources of the era, including Bob Woodward, Seymour Hersh, Richard Clarke … Sometimes the quotes come straight from the horse’s mouth – George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld … And sometimes they belong to the ages – John Stuart Mill, John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Oliver Wendell Holmes,” writes former Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter in the foreword to the book.

Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication Associate Professor Joseph Russomanno began collecting materials for his book several years ago when he started seeing parallels between events of the Bush presidency and what the founding fathers wrote more than 200 years ago.

Quotes contained in Tortured Logic are organized in a way that connects the events of the time with historical references and modern-day sources who discuss Bush’s presidency.

“I started to see connections, on both sides of the ledger. I noted how works of the past, not to mention the present, were in many ways speaking to current events and addressing them almost directly, which speaks in part to the importance of those works and how they can still be relevant today,” Russomanno said. “I decided to simply lay the information out so that these connections are right there for the reader to see.”

Examples from the “Secrecy and Vice” chapter include:

“There has been a 95 percent increase in classified material under Bush and Cheney, with almost 20 million documents now being classified annually. This increase is not because of the needs of the war on terror.” – John Dean, former White House counsel

“With Cheney’s guidance, documents were being classified at twice the rate of the previous administration.” – Ron Suskind, journalist

“The liberties of the people never were nor ever will be secure when transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.” – Patrick Henry

“What seems to be coming out of the (Bush-Cheney) administration is the idea that public information is a dangerous thing.” – Tom Connors, archivist

“The administration’s actions represent an unparalleled assault on the principle of open and accountable government.” – Congressional Report

The book is divided into two parts: The Imperial Presidency and The War Presidency. “Imperial presidency” is a term coined by historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. to describe a president that pushes or exceeds limits stipulated by the U.S. Constitution. The second portion details the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I tried to read, listen to and view as much work -- straight objective journalism and commentary – in print, broadcast and online as possible. Thank goodness we’re in the digital age,” Russomanno said.

While the book has a point of view, Russomanno said that’s no different than “what journalistic commentators do.”

“What I've done with this book is similar to what journalistic commentators do: They allow facts to inform their opinions, then share those opinions,” he said. “I’ve utilized a lot of journalism, both reporting and commentary, to create a narrative.”

Retired Ambassador Joseph Wilson, author of "The Politics of Truth: A Diplomat’s Memoir: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife’s CIA Identity," also endorses the book. He says that readers will discover a book that describes the “extent to which the administration of George W. Bush telegraphed its intentions every time its officials opened their mouths” during the Bush years as well as a work that will serve historians as a primary source documenting his years in office.