Friday, December 12, 2003

It’s All In the Timing

Joe Conason notes the White House’s “sloppy” timing:

From time to time, a pair of front-page stories will line up like stars in the sky to send a deeper message. Both the New York Times and the Washington Post today examine the attitudes of senior Bush political advisors toward Howard Dean, the Democrat they believe most likely to win his party’s presidential nomination. Although the Bush strategists expressed some concern about Dean’s grassroots strength, they didn’t conceal their contempt for him as a potential opponent. As the Times notes:

“Karl Rove, Mr. Bush’s senior adviser and political strategist, was reported by The Washington Post this summer to have exhorted the crowd at his neighborhood Fourth of July parade to cheer for marchers wearing Dean T-shirts and carrying Dean signs. People close to Mr. Bush, who prides himself on his personal and political discipline, describe Dr. Dean as a sloppy candidate who gets himself in trouble too often by shooting from the hip and who is slow to clean up messes.”

The Washington Post took the same approach, with additional color, recalling how Rove himself had chanted, “We want Howard Dean!”

But this wasn’t the best of days for such swaggering, because the president and his aides were preoccupied with trying to “clean up” an embarrassing international mess caused by “shooting from the hip” at the Pentagon. Just as Bush was dispatching James A. Baker III to renegotiate loans owed by Iraq to several European nations, the Pentagon announced that those same countries would be ineligible to bid on Iraqi reconstruction contracts for “security” reasons. Although White House officials were furious by the bad timing of the Pentagon announcement, posted on its Web site, they had to admit that they had approved the restrictive policy. (The “security” insult may have been an artistic Pentagon touch.)

Remember, these are the national security sophisticates — the “grown-ups” who, unlike the hapless Democrats, really know how the world works and how to run it.

Hello, Pot? I have Kettle on Line One….