Bruce Bartlett clips from Matt Latimer’s book and adds some of his own gems.

One of the things that Latimer talks a lot about is the importance of the president’s mood, which appears to have gyrated wildly. Apparently, the best way to get on his good side was to pretend to be stupid so that Bush would seem like a genius by figuring out some simple point for himself. Latimer says that national security adviser Stephen Hadley was very good at doing this . . .

One of the things that first turned me off from the Bush Admin was their conflation of autocracy and tyranny – as if every dictatorship was Oceania and every democracy a paradise of civil discourse. No attempt was made to distinguish (formerly) constitutional oligarchies such as Iran from totalitarian states like North Korea. This is not only bad policy but quite frankly smacks of stupidity.

As Latimer shows, it just as feasible for a democratically elected leader to repress divergent points of view – at least on the inside where they have the greatest chance of influencing policy.