If you want to know why some folks fear the end of print, read Vanity Fair's oral history of the Bush Administration. Assembled by Cullen Murphy (formerly of the ATL) and Todd Purdum, it really is a stunning act of journalism, which obviously took a ton of man hours. Here's Colin Powell's man, Lawrence Wilkerson setting the stage:
We had this confluence of characters--and I use that term very carefully--that included people like Powell, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, and so forth, which allowed one perception to be "the dream team." It allowed everybody to believe that this Sarah Palin-like president--because, let's face it, that's what he was--was going to be protected by this national-security elite, tested in the cauldrons of fire. What in effect happened was that a very astute, probably the most astute, bureaucratic entrepreneur I've ever run into in my life became the vice president of the United States.
He became vice president well before George Bush picked him. And he began to manipulate things from that point on, knowing that he was going to be able to convince this guy to pick him, knowing that he was then going to be able to wade into the vacuums that existed around George Bush--personality vacuum, character vacuum, details vacuum, experience vacuum.
The question that beguiles us all is, when paper goes who will pay for that sort of work to get done? Is the future less of the sort of thing Murphy and Purdum pulled together, and more musings by Roger Simon on the oppression Olympics? I'm optimistic. Mostly because I have to be.
All of that aside, folks should read the piece just because it really is stunning to see it all laid out before you. Rarely does one see cravenness, arrogance and incompetence married in such expert fashion. I was 25 when Bush came to office, and I never thought it would get this bad. But Purdum and Murphy show how things almost necessarily--from day one--had to go this way.
I read this piece on the plane ride out West, yesterday. I got halfway through and couldn't take it, I had to take a break. Finished it just we were coming over Utah, and I was just stunned. Journalism takes a lot of heat on this blog, perhaps some of it undeserved. So it's only right that I call out something when it's well done. Read this piece. Read it. Read it. Read it.