Friday, July 30, 2010


Well, this, from former Bush speechwriter Matt Latimer at the Daily Beast, is just silly:

Former President George W. Bush and his corral of Texas-based surrogates are preparing to flood the airwaves in anticipation of his new memoir, another step in a carefully crafted rehabilitation strategy. The publication date of Bush's Decision Points is set for early November, one week after the congressional elections. But, as with any likely bestseller, the details of the book are certain to leak out earlier -- meaning the Bush years could be re-litigated and re-explored during the final, pivotal weeks of the campaign.

It is not clear just how much the Bush book will affect the debate -- it was Bill Clinton, after all, who said all elections are about the future. And some Republicans, particularly those most closely tied to the Bush regime, actually argue the book could help the party by reminding some voters of what they liked about Bush. Still, that has not stopped some Republicans, traumatized over the last two election cycles, from fearing the worst. "Monumentally bad timing" was the reaction of one former Bush aide who learned of the book release date. Another prominent conservative compared the Bushies' public-relations savvy to LeBron James. "Selfish and stupid" was another noted right-wing columnist's reaction. Democrats, meanwhile, are gleeful.

Look, we've had memoirs from Karl Rove and Laura Bush on the shelves from months. A while back we had months of near-constant public appearances by Dick Cheney and his demagogue daughter. The Republican resurgence never seemed to be slowed down by any of this.

I believe (and I said this last month) that a George W. Bush book tour could have had an impact if it took place before the election -- imagine all those giddy Republican diehards, some of them in Sarah Palin shirts, delighting in W's presence, all on TV news on a regular basis. That might have reminded voters of the future the current crop of Republicans want us to go back to.

But that's not going to happen. A few leaks -- of utterly predictable self-justification, of bits of backstairs trivia (a foreign leader was drunk at a state dinner! Rummy once said a really mean thing to Condi!) -- won't have the same impact if it comes in brief news articles. The general public will just absorb it and move on.

I wish the Bush book would have an impact before publication -- but I worry that it's just going to be part of a painful November for Democrats starting on Election Day, thanks to the media. Here's the sequence:

* On November 2, Republicans gain seats in Congress -- and the media will probably accept GOP spin and declare the results a resounding triumph for Republicans no matter how many seats Republicans pick up.

* Then, a week later, Bush begins his Vindication Memoir Tour. He's mobbed by Republicans pumped up as a result of the previous week's returns, and those results are the subject of many questions posed to him in interviews. (He's smug and self-satisfied about the results because, yes, he does think they partly exonerate him.)

* Two weeks later, Sarah Palin's new book is published -- and that one is preceded by leaks that really are newsmaking, because, well, it's Sarah Palin, and we think everything she does is news. Her book tour is, of course, like the Second Coming of Christ for her fans.

Result? The Beltway's perception that there's been a tsunami-size Republican resurgence will be nearly universal. And that will be true even if Republicans have only barely won back one house of Congress (or maybe even if they haven't accomplished that) and if the Bush and Palin crowds are the same damn people who always supported those two.

I can't bear it. Palin/Jeb '12?

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