The Corner

Just Play It Straight, and Let The Chips Fall…

In e-mail talking about the president’s news conference last night with some insider types, some words of wisdom: “You know, I wish it was a perfect world where you can admit mistakes and where pointing out facts was not ridiculed as playing the “blame game,” but neither is the case, and failing to get that misses the more salient practical point. The press is not really interested in what Bush thinks the mistakes were; they want him to admit one because they know it can then be hung around his neck again and again in campaign ads. And they want ‘blame game’ out there as a pejorative hammer to discourage the Bush admin from explaining its side of the story (i.e., Aug 6 PDB = incompetence and nonchalance; Gorelick 1995 Wall memo = Blame Game). I say — with all due respect — screw ‘em. Why should Bush modulate his message for people who are not in good faith engaged in an exchange of ideas; if you do that, you’re letting your opponents define you. He’s gotta put his best foot forward and not worry about how the NYT is gonna twist it. Remember when Richard Clarke testified two weeks ago? We had a full week of clamor from the commissioners and the NYT: Clarke’s raised very serious issues; we need POTUS to waive executive privilege because we need to hear Condi Rice answer these very serious assertions. Well, I watched Ashcroft throw that 1995 memo down today. I must have missed the commissioners and the NYT. Surely, they must have been saying, Ashcroft has raised really serious issues and we need to have Jamie Gorelick resign as a Commissioner so she can be available as a witness to answer his assertions. Tell me I was out of the room when that happened. And if it didn’t happen, what does that say about how POTUS ought to conduct himself in this environment?”

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