Frank discussion about the not-so-frank Bush tapes
Sadly, as I reported last night, Doug Wead, buffeted by criticism from his fellow Bush supporters, has turned over the tapes of his conversations with George W. Bush to the White House, instead of depositing them with me or a responsible scholar.
The timing, though, is eerie. Wead’s Web site lists this book among the ones he’s written: Breaking the Cycles of Self-Destruction. But Wead’s site said it was being “temporarily out of stock.”
I’m telling you, you just can’t make this stuff up.
Unfortunately, though, we all make mistakes. I certainly do. Read on.
Marvin Olasky, the guy often referred to as Bush’s guru of “compassionate conservatism,” writes from Austin, where he’s a professor at the University of Texas:
Entertaining column, but I’m not from New York, and I haven’t claimed to be the originator of the term “compassionate conservative.” You’re right that George W. doesn’t hang out only with other Yalies, but I’m not a good example of that.
My error, Marvin. Thanks for writing, and sorry about that. You’re not only a compassionate conservative but also a gracious one.
Olasky is from Boston, not New York, and he did indeed go to Yale. At least I was right about Olasky’s being a former Communist.
I promptly wrote Olasky back last Thursday, before I was felled by the flu, to apologize for my error. But I’m not the first person to credit Olasky with having coined the term “compassionate conservative.” Of course, Doug Wead says on his web site that he himself coined it. To wit, here’s the last line of Wead’s biography from his site:
TIME magazine referred to him [Wead] as the man who coined the phrase the “compassionate conservative in 1982.”
So I asked Olasky who did coin it. This is what he replied:
People who used the words, probably without knowledge that others had, include an Arkansas legislator in 1977, Jack Kemp, Karen Hughes, Michael Savage, me, and a host of others. The meaning of the words varied, though.
Thanks, Marvin, for writing. Following are some other letters about the Bush tapes:
Mike Harvey of Rising Sun, Maryland, writes:
I wouldn’t go too far in demanding to hear the rest of the tapes. For all we know, it’s as innocuous as the stuff already released, and they want people to demand to hear it.
Good point, Mike. Thanks. Besides, we’d never know whether we had all the tapes or not.
Jerry Foster writes:
Quoting your [February 23] piece: “I wrote him back this morning, saying essentially that:…”
And then you post a letter. Why not post the real thing? Why post a fake letter that supposedly says “essentially” what the real letter said?
You are ripping Doug Wead a new one because he put out “essentially” what the tapes say about Bush, but not the actual tapes in their entirety, and then you turn around and do “essentially” the same thing.
Sure, it would be interesting to hear EVERYTHING that was in the tapes; otherwise, he may not be giving the WHOLE picture; just as it would interesting to see EVERYTHING you wrote to Doug Wead; otherwise YOU may not be giving the WHOLE picture.
What are YOU hiding?
Or is this a tactic straight from the Dan Rather “fake but accurate!” handbook on journalism ethics?
I wrote back to Jerry, saying this:
Thanks for writing, Jerry. I’m sorry that I wrote it in such a confusing manner. What I said I wrote him is exactly what I wrote him. I meant the word “essentially” to apply to the word “that,” meaning what I had just said, not to what followed.
So, in other words, the letter I posted to Wead in the column is exactly the letter I sent him. The whole thing. Word for word. Only thing I left out was my ending tag to Doug: “Be well. Regards, Ward.” So, you got everything I wrote to Wead. And, in the beginning of the piece, when I quoted Wead’s letter to me, I quoted it completely. Word for word. Nothing left out in either case.
Again, thanks for writing, and sorry for the confusion. It’s really disheartening to be compared with Dan Rather.
Foster then wrote back:
Thank you for your speedy reply and explanation. I’m glad to hear that you used the real letters, which takes you off the Dan Rather list. You’ve now explained more in half a minute than Rather has explained in half a year.
Thanks, Jerry. You’re the first person who’s ever praised me for brevity. Foster continued:
I know of Doug Wead but don’t know Doug Wead. I’m not sure why he released what he did, but it seems to be just the latest in a string of missteps regarding the tapes. I think making the tapes was a mistake to begin with. Announcing he has tapes was a mistake. Releasing a small part of the tapes was another mistake. I don’t think he should have made them in the first place, but he did. If he was going to release them, he should have released them all or not at all.
I’m a Bush supporter, but it does make you wonder what else is on the tapes. Actually, I suspect Wead is protecting himself as much if not more than he’s protecting Bush by not releasing the tapes in their entirety. I would like to think better of Wead, but I suspect he did what he did for more “fame and fortune.” Sure, he may donate all book profits to charity, but that doesn’t mean his sales of other past or future books won’t benefit.
Yes, I suppose he played the NYT, but there’s a chance he’s now playing you, me, and everyone else who wants to know what else is on the tapes. Maybe, just maybe, he wants the liberals and the MSM [mainstream media] — sorry to be redundant — to go nuts after the tapes, as they think there might be some sort of “smoking gun” there, or at least some very unflattering things to uncover that would do damage to Bush. Perhaps in reality, though, the tapes not previously played will only paint Bush in an even better light. If the libs/media demand full disclosure and get it, what choice would you and they have but to report what it fully discloses? I can only hope, but the more I learn about Wead the less I believe in his craftiness. Unless of course it’s all a plot of Karl Rove‘s…
The other thing that stands out about this whole story is the media treatment of Wead for making the tapes in the first place. I have not heard/read/seen any negative treatment of Wead for making the tapes in the MSM. It may have been technically legal for him to do it in his state, but who secretly records his chats with his friends? Now if he thought his life might be in danger for some reason, that would be a different story. For instance, let’s say he knew a girl, a friend, who was having an affair with the president and he was being put into a difficult spot because the friend was asking him to lie under oath about it. He would then have a choice of committing perjury or being called a nut job and perhaps fearing the reprisal from the most powerful person in the world if he told the truth. The tapes might save him in that case.
Foster is talking about Linda Tripp here. Get it? He continues:
I know, I know, the answer is too easy. The former [Tripp] hurt their beloved Billy Boy, while the latter [Wead] could hurt the hated “W”. Of course, if the tapes turned out to show Bush in a favorable light in their totality, I’m sure they could twist it into an anti-Wead story in a heartbeat.
And Dan Rather and the MSM wonder why conservatives don’t trust them and lap up their “news” as gospel? LOL
Well, that’s interesting, Jerry. I’m no Bill Clinton fan, but I’d rather have a president who’s obsessed with getting blow jobs in the Oval Office than one who’s obsessed with trying to conquer the world. Thanks for writing.
Joe Craig writes:
Hey, man, maybe the “us vs. them thing” is exactly what they — the Doug Wead folks — are encouraging. Are ya hip to the “180-degree-wrong theory,” Ward? Like perfectly opposite what the truth or common decency or sense would be? Like ya can’t get it more perfectly backwards?
P.S. I do truly adore your idea that “ya just can’t make this stuff up,” in regards to the events you describe. Write on!
Thanks for writing, Joe. I’m going to have to think some more about that “180-degree-wrong theory.”
Rowland Scherman of Orleans, Massachusetts, writes:
Doug Wead is a Bush plant that the press has (unwittingly?) stumbled upon and run with.
These old (?) tapes make George W. Bush look more human and better than he actually is. When that happens, it’s almost always a bit of news with “Swift boat” overtones.
I am almost positive that these tapes were made much closer to the present date than when Wead says they were.
Just about anything’s possible, Rowland, and thanks for bringing up the Swift boats. It’s kind of hard to know what to think after Bush’s handlers somehow fashioned the draft-dodging, National Guard-avoiding Bush into a war hero, and the combat veteran John Kerry into a weakling — and then somehow got people to believe it. Or maybe we give the Bush strategists too much credit. I can’t think of a weaker presidential candidate in my lifetime than Kerry.
John Tovey writes, regarding the Wead to Bush Beat item:
What a marvelous propaganda tool, as if Wead was not totally aware of exactly what he was doing. But, oops, the taxi got away from the driver, and he had to turn himself into a loyal martyr to the cause.
Well, from here on in, all thinking people should read the background facts concerning the “great religious crusade” surrounding Mr. Bush, and ask oneself, “Does all of this ring true?”
What a marvelous web has been woven around the political and business profiteers who dare to walk “where angels fear to tread!” However, the only ones who stand to lose are the American people, trusting, patriotic, and benevolent as they are. Could it be that they are walking among the present day masters of deception clothed in the robes of Christianity?
History tends to repeat itself, and whatever tool is available can, and will, be used by the opportunistic power brokers of the day, regardless of the sanctity of the cause. This is nothing new.
Thanks, John, for planting that taxi metaphor in my brain. I can see a young Doug Wead as Travis Bickle, muttering to himself, “Someday, a real rain will come along and turn everyone into an Amway distributor who will buy my tapes and books.”
Niki Hawkins of Wilmington, Delaware, writes:
Doug Wead forgot that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” All of it.
Thanks, Niki. You’re no doubt referring to CSI. Funny thing, but I guess it’s safe for us to probe deeply into fictional events, to carve them up, dissect them. We like to look at that blood and gore. But when it comes to real life, that’s a no-no.
For those who can handle real life, check out the faces of war on Dahr Jamail‘s site. I’m for sending a CSI team (minus David Caruso) to the Pentagon to start snooping around. That would be a reality show.
“Bonnie Only” writes:
The tapes have Bush and his White House cohorts too nervous. Bush has demanded them back and the past friend’s lawyer says do it. I think we would find that bush is not who he says he is. The tapes should go to the historians, not burned like the National Guard records.
Thanks for writing, Bonnie. That reminds me of how Bush so eagerly recounts others’ war stories and wears those cute little custom-made uniforms. All the while, we’ve had to pry his National Guard records — still incomplete — out of him.
Terry R. Hildebrand writes from Honolulu:
I found the article “Morning Report 2/23/05 Wead to Bush Beat: Yeah, The Tapes Made Bush Look Good” very enlightening, and your comments are in total agreement with my own. A Honolulu Clear Channel radio station’s morning drive-time DJs (Perry and Price, KSSK), who always only have good things to say about Bush, and are constantly dissing his political opponents, also covered the Wead story. (I strongly suspect that Perry and Price are themselves recipients of the Karl Rove/conservative, far right-wing’s “Talking Points,” perhaps through Lowry Mays.) So, you know if these guys are airing it, it was actually done to try to help Bush, who as many people are aware, is now under a very dark cloud of scandal regarding gay male prostitute and fake “reporter” “Jeff Gannon” a k a James D. Guckert and his unprecedented access to the White House press room (and who knows what else!).
I think you are very astute to point out what seems to be clear media manipulation in this case, not to mention shameless self-promotion by Wead of his book. Jon Stewart did a wonderful bit about it last night [February 23], too, on the Daily Show. That show’s take was implicitly similar to your own. Keep up the good work!
Thanks for writing, Terry. Too bad that we’ll never really know, now that the tapes have been turned over, Wead says, to the White House instead of to me. And I just bought fresh batteries, too.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 28, 2005
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