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. (Click here if you don’t believe me.) 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:
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:
So I asked Olasky who did coin it. This is what he replied:
Thanks, Marvin, for writing. Following are some other letters about the Bush tapes:
Mike Harvey of Rising Sun, Maryland, writes:
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:
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:
Thanks, Jerry. You’re the first person who’s ever praised me for brevity. Foster continued:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
Thanks, Niki. You’re no doubt referring to CSI. (Check out Elyse’s CSI Page.) 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:
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 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.
More:DEAR BUSH BEAT . . .