Tuesday, July 22, 2014
TWO BOOKS I LIKED
Duty and Stress Test
I recently read two books that interested me because the writers bridged the gap between the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations—that is, they worked for both. When someone works for two politically opposed administrations, I take notice, because I think he or she must be pretty capable and evenhanded.
Duty, by Robert M. Gates, tells of his replacing Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense under President G. W. Bush and continuing on as President Obama’s Secretary of Defense through his first term. Gates had to deal with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, of course. He tells of his dealings with both presidents, both vice presidents, the secretaries of state, the congress, and the military leaders in particular. The sacrifices of America’s youth weighed very heavily on him, you will find throughout Duty.
Stress Test, by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, is the story of his life, how he became gradually interested in economics, and his climb up the financial ladder holding various positions of influence until he became appointed Secretary of the Treasury under Obama. The fact he had a Republican background, worked closely with President G. W. Bush, and was (I would say) a Keynesian, especially interested me. I have never understood economics very well, but this book helped me understand more—especially in dealing with the onset of panic during a recession, which is what the US faced in 2008-2009. He credits Bush with agreeing with the first bailout measure and Obama for his support of the “cocktail” of measures Geithner and others recommended during some extremely harrowing days.