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The Mendacity of Rove: Thoughts on Rewriting the American Nightmare

Monday, January 12, 2009
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In December of last year Stephen Hayes, Neoconservative columnist and official biographer of Vice-President Dick Cheney, casually informed the world that “there’s an ongoing Bush legacy project that’s been meeting in the White House…and they are looking at how to sort of roll out the President’s legacy.”

The ‘Project’ is allegedly headed by long-standing figures of the ‘Texas Mafia’, most notably Karl Rove. Since then it has been interesting to watch the ‘Project’ play out. Here are some of the low-lights (my emphasis throughout):

Fmr. Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove

At an Oxford-Union-esque debate in Manhattan, charged with challenging the proposition that “Bush 43 Is the Worst President of the Last 50 Years”...

“To suggest he’s not interested in ideas is a peculiar form of Bush hatred that causes people to lose their rational senses,” Mr. Rove said. “This president has been on the receiving end of this kind of attitude from the moment he took office.”

“I will defend the president,” said Mr. Rove, who added that Mr. Bush will be vindicated “over the long scope of history.”

On Fox News’ ‘On the Record’ with Greta Van Susteren…

“Look, judgments of history are harsh in the short run and unfairly so many times…[President Bush is] going to be at a relatively low ratings but much better than some of his predecessors. History though is going to be kind to him at the end. I’m absolutely confident of that.


Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice

In an exchange on ‘This Week’ with George Stephanopoulos…

STEPHANOPOULOS: ...could you have done a better job in airing dissenting views on the WMD?

RICE: Oh, we talked a lot about dissenting views. The idea that, somehow, within the Bush White House, there weren’t dissenting views during this period of time is simply not true...

In a December 15 AP interview Rice asserted that: No ‘American Money’ In Iraq Was Lost To Corruption

White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten

In a wide-ranging interview (joined by NSA Stephen Hadley) Bolten

”...dismisse[d] the idea that the president ha[d] not been challenged by his aides. “Plenty of times I have said, ‘Boy, I think that’s a terrible idea,’ ” he said. “The president is, possibly contrary to public opinion, very good about hearing and wanting contrary advice.”

Bolten remained adamant that…

“everybody who has actual personal exposure to the president, almost everybody, appreciates what a good leader he is, how smart he is and, especially, how humane he is.”


National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley

Condoleeza Rice’s replacement as NSA was even more animated…

“One of the mythologies,” Hadley said, “is that it was the vice president that somehow was pulling the strings on foreign policy in the first term and made it very ideologically driven...That’s just hooey—it’s just hooey,” the ever-polite Hadley concluded, with the strongest language he would muster for print. (Bolten chuckled and suggested earthier epithets, such as “bunk.”)

Summing up…

“Hadley invoked Bush’s 2000 campaign theme in summing up the president’s personal qualities. “He has got this great compassion which was not just a slogan, ‘compassionate conservative.’ It is who he is....Hadley concluded. “This is the one thing that just drives me crazy, that somehow this is an arrogant administration, an arrogant president running an arrogant policy. This guy—one thing he is not is arrogant.”


Vice-President Dick Cheney

Striking a characteristically defiant tone on CBS’ ‘Face The Nation’ Cheney defended the White House’s controversial domestic surveillance program saying…

“I think what we did was one of the great success stories of the intelligence business in the last century...It’s one of the main reasons we’ve been successful in defending the country…“he continued “And I don’t believe we violated anybody’s civil liberties.

Pressed by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer about some of the Bush administration’s foreign policy misteps…

... BLITZER: So when you launched the war against Saddam Hussein, did you know then that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11?

CHENEY: We did not base going after Saddam Hussein on any connection with 9/11...

In fact, the text of the original 2002 authorization for the war in Iraq included the text, “Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq…”

Utilising a recurring thematic device Cheney told his Washington Times interviewer…

I myself am personally persuaded that this President and this administration will look very good 20 or 30 years down the road…


President George W Bush

Increasingly reflective in his last days in office Mr Bush, in an interview conducted by his sister Doro Bush Koch (taking softball to a whole new level) said…

he wanted to be remembered “as a person who, first and foremost, did not sell his soul in order to accommodate the political process.”..and..“as somebody who liberated 50 million people and helped achieve peace...”

Check out this odd conversation with ABC’s Charlie Gibson…

CHARLIE GIBSON: You’ve always said there’s no do-overs as President. If you had one?

GEORGE BUSH: I don’t know—- the biggest regret of all the presidency has to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq. A lot of people put their reputations on the line and said the weapons of mass destruction is a reason to remove Saddam Hussein. It wasn’t just people in my administration; a lot of members in Congress, prior to my arrival in Washington D.C., during the debate on Iraq, a lot of leaders of nations around the world were all looking at the same intelligence. And, you know, that’s not a do-over, but I wish the intelligence had been different, I guess.

GIBSON: If the intelligence had been right, would there have been an Iraq war?

BUSH: Yes, because Saddam Hussein was unwilling to let the inspectors go in to determine whether or not the U.N. resolutions were being upheld. In other words, if he had had weapons of mass destruction, would there have been a war? Absolutely.

GIBSON: No, if you had known he didn’t.

BUSH: Oh, I see what you’re saying. You know, that’s an interesting question. That is a do-over that I can’t do. It’s hard for me to speculate.

In more classical Bush style, during an interview with ABC’s Martha Raddatz, the President said…

BUSH: One of the major theaters against al Qaeda turns out to have been Iraq. This is where al Qaeda said they were going to take their stand. This is where al Qaeda was hoping to take–

RADDATZ: But not until after the U.S. invaded.

BUSH: Yeah, that’s right. So what?...

And during an annual conference on the Middle East in Washington DC Bush said...

The Middle East in 2008 is a freer, more hopeful and more promising place than it was in 2001,”...offer[ing] a sweeping and optimistic defense of his policy in the troubled region, often minimizing or ignoring uncomfortable developments.

He said unseating Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was justified…[and perhaps prematurely]...asserted that “important progress” had been made in the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process...


First Lady Laura Bush

Mrs Bush wrapped up the enduring message of the ‘Project’ when, after asked if her husband’s presidency will be remembered as the worst in U.S. history, she asserted that…

I know it’s not, and so I don’t really feel like I need to respond to people that view it that way,” Mrs. Bush said in an interview that aired Sunday. “I think history will judge and we’ll see later.


Bon Voyage!

In a bizarre moment recently, the outgoing President could almost have been channeling John Maynard Keynes...

‘George W. Bush recently took a lackadaisical attitude when it comes to his role in history, telling ABC News, “I don’t spend a lot of time really worrying about short-term history. I guess I don’t worry about long-term history, either, since I’m not going to be around to read it, but, look, in this job you just do what you can.”

As speculation swirls that the Presidential Library might turn out to be a White Elephant, and King George declares that ‘his post-presidential career would include writing a book’ (although he’s ‘still thinking about what it would be about, but likely it would focus on “the toughest decisions I had to make in my presidency and the context in which I made them.” - ‘ya think?), Bloomberg columnist Margaret Carlson wraps it up best when she says...

Bush has embarked on a massive legacy project, displayed on a White House Web site in a 52-page book called “Highlights of Accomplishments and Results.” (spotted by the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart)

Each chapter ends with a box of factoids headed “Did You Know?” and the book lists his top 100 achievements. It pictures Bush atop the pile of rubble at Ground Zero with a bullhorn. There’s no picture of him in a flight suit aboard the aircraft carrier with the banner “Mission Accomplished.”

Bush has given more exit interviews than any president in memory. If only he’d given as much thought to his exit strategy for Iraq. He told ABC television he deeply regretted U.S. intelligence failures, without mentioning he had sent his vice president to camp out at CIA headquarters until the professionals packaged the intel the way he wanted it…

Bush may be trying to emulate Ronald Reagan, who left office to mixed reviews but with enough hagiography for an airport to bear his name. Bush may be hoping one day to return to the capital, landing at an airport renamed in his honor. That will take quite a legacy project.

So far the closest he (almost) got was a Sewage Plant.



 

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