Never quite a party (otherwise, what was that HUD official doing at your table?) and certainly not a working dinner (even back in the ’70s there was a big-time comedian and a jokey speech from the president), the White House Correspondents Dinner has always mixed its celebratory mood with an off-kilter earnestness.
Crisis and Command: A History of Executive Power from George Washington to George W. Bush By John Yoo (Kaplan, 544 pp., $29.95) Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and the National Security State By Garry Wills (Penguin, 288 pp., $27.95) I. In December 2008, Chris Wallace asked Vice President Cheney, “If the president, during war, decides to do something to protect the country, is it legal?” Cheney’s answer included a reference to a military authority that President Bush did not exercise.
In the shadow of the intelligence failure that culminated with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab lighting an explosive aboard a Detroit-bound flight, the titular head of the U.S. intelligence community was busy fighting another war. For months, in fact, Admiral Dennis C. Blair, the director of national intelligence (DNI), had been waging an epic bureaucratic offensive. His job had been created in the wake of September 11 to foster cooperation and accountability among the 16 agencies sifting through the mounds of inbound data about threats to U.S. interests.
When Vince Flynn recently finished writing his eleventh novel, Pursuit of Honor, he sent an advance copy to Rush Limbaugh, along with some special reading instructions. Upon arriving at Chapter 50, he told the radio host in a note inscribed on the chapter’s first page, “open one of your bottles of Lafite and grab a cigar and savor these words.” Flynn self-published his first political thriller twelve years ago but, today, has a seven-figure contract with an imprint of Simon & Schuster.