Bush's Tape Worm

Doug Wead saved a Bush Beat reader, now focuses on saving himself

The selling of the president: Wead (above) as an aide to George Bush Sr. and (below) on stage and screen as a motivational speaker in Indonesia (photos courtesy of dougwead.com)

EARLIER THIS MONTH, George W. Bush's official tape-recordist Doug Wead flagellated himself on the pages of USA Today (penning a treacly piece called "I'm Sorry, Mr. President," and stopped in at the stations of the cross Chris Matthews and Sean Hannity to plead guilty and ask forgiveness.

You may not hear about the preacher, peddler, and Beltway meddler again until his next book—about presidential siblings—comes out.

For God's sake, though, don't feel sorry for the guy. Whatever the ace Amway evangelist and motivational speaker is doing is working for his current books about presidential kids and families. Wead's "Hair Shirt Tour," as Robin Abcarian called it in a smart Los Angeles Times story a few days ago, shows that proclaimed virtue has its own rewards:

    It's not clear yet whether Wead's sorry-palooza tour will be a good marketing move, but the tapes' revelation seemed to boost sales, at least temporarily. PR Week, a trade publication, awarded the story its "PR Play of the Week," and gave it a rating of 4 ("savvy") on a scale of 1 ("clueless") to 5 ("ingenious").

    "There was a spike," said Justin Loeber, vice president, director of publicity for Atria Books, the division of Simon & Schuster that published The Raising of a President. The day before the New York Times splashed the secret tapes story on A-1, Loeber said, the book was ranked by Amazon at No. 5,000. A day later, "it was No. 70," Loeber said. "The book went into a second printing."

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The hubbub ebbed, however, and the book's Amazon ranking fell rapidly, Abcarian reports. Likewise, my recent flood of Wead stories (including some regurgitations from the early '90s, when I wrote about him extensively) generated a brief downpour of mail, but that has slowed to a drop.

However, here's an interesting one I hadn't run.

Bryce Raley wrote:

    I've been a fan of Doug Wead's for years. I've listened to most of his tapes, and seen him speak multiple times. I have read some of his books and researched him a great deal. He was highly responsible for leading me to Jesus Christ four years ago.

    I believe he made a mistake here and has done all we could ask him to do to rectify the situation. He has apologized, turned over the tapes, and assigned profits from his book sales to charity. You didn't see him all over TV either did you? Makes you wonder about the claims of "fame and fortune" many are making. Did your research turn up Canyonville Christian College, or Mercy Corps, which Doug Wead pours his life into year after year?

    By the way, Breaking the Cycles of Self Destruction has been out of stock for about four years now. But you wouldn't know that because your research of Wead, although better than most everyone else's, just picked up again when this story broke.

    I believe he is a man of God, and he is human. This makes him an imperfect person like everyone else, and is exactly why we need Jesus as our savior.

    [Signed} A Christian Conservative

    If I'm wrong I've lost nothing but if I'm right many have lost eternity.

Thanks for writing, Bryce. I'm glad you're feeling better about your life now. Hey, I've said, and I meant it, that Wead is one fantastic speaker. You can't be faulted for saying Wead didn't go on TV to capitalize on the moment, because you wrote me before Wead's last spasms on Matthews and Hannity's shows. (Check out the unintentionally hilarious transcript of Wead's March 17 exchange with Matthews.)

He's sure a hell of a lot better than either of them. Maybe he'll wind up with a talk show out of all this. As I pointed out a few weeks ago, Wead once told a graduating class at Oral Roberts University:

    "God didn't put you here to watch television! He put you here to be on television!"

And, yeah, I know about Canyonville; it's a Christian boarding school in the Northwest that counts Wead among its alums. Mercy Corps was a Christian charity founded in Portland, Oregon, by Dan O'Neill, the son-in-law of Wead buddy Pat Boone. It's now a worldwide organization after it merged with a Scottish charity—it even got one of the first big USAID contracts in Iraq, by the way. (See the Open Society Institute's Iraq Revenue Watch.)

There's an interesting sidebar about Dan O'Neill's wife, Cherry Boone O'Neill, and her battle with bulimia some years back.

And it figures that her near-death from starvation would weave its way into the Terri Schiavo saga. Search out Cherry's name on this CapitolGrilling.com page.

Cherry Boone O'Neill's book is quite famous in eating-disorders circles. It's called Starving for Attention. Doug Wead has undoubtedly read it; maybe he should re-read it.

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