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Takeover    by Charlie Savage order for
by Charlie Savage
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

As its title suggests, Takeover: the Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy takes a foreboding look at the United States government and the path it is taking to create a presidency that has neither checks nor balances. It's all about power and the wielding of it.

This state is not new to U.S. history. This type of subversion of government has happened before, back in the time of Teddy Roosevelt and by various presidents throughout history. Truman, Nixon, Johnson, Clinton, to cite a few. But never to the extent that is being practiced by the Bush-Cheney rule. I thought ours was a government for the people, by the people, and of the people. After reading Takeover, I now feel I am heartbreakingly wrong.

According to author Charlie Savage, Bush and his acolytes are forcing more and power into the President's hands - and in so doing, into Cheney's hands. When a bill is passed by Congress, Bush has the option of vetoing. He has not done this very often. But he also can do something called making a signing statement. If he doesn't like part of the bill, he simply signs that statement and cancels out what limits him in any way. Savage writes that Dick Cheney has been working for years to bring more and more power into a president's hands. Long before Bush was elected. My question is why.

The torture ban for prisoners has been gotten around in many different ways; all the while Bush and his cabinet have claimed it was being stopped. According to this book, the President's appointments when a vacancy appears anywhere in his cabinet are suspect, in that he pushes through his choices without regard for their abilities or experience - as in the appointment of Brown to handle the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. What a disaster that was.

I can't adequately summarize this very important book. It is hard to even pick out the high points. The whole book is full of high points. Takeover can not be read without taking time out every so often to digest and cogitate on what has just been before your eyes. Disbelief sets in almost immediately. I can only urge everyone to read it. Footnotes back up what Savage avers is true. If even only one-fourth of this book is factual, it is enough to strike terror in readers' hearts. I believe it is all factual.

What I can't understand is that Bush is claiming to want to bring democracy to the world, yet is denying it to his own country. I, your reviewer, am simply an ordinary citizen. Doing my best every day to live as I should. I don't have the ability to write eloquently enough to capture everyone's attention. I can only say that the information revealed here is enough to alarm me about the future. My own. And my children's. And that of my six lovely grandchildren.

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