NationaIt is a genuine pleasure to watch rats fleeing the sinking ship that is the Bush administration. But they are still rats.
A fine example is Bruce Bartlett, former Reagan adviser and supply-side economics advocate, whose book entitled "Impostor: How George W Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy" is a harsh indictment of President Bush. He is currently writing Op-Eds in the timesselect section of the NY Times.
Paul Krugman recently wrote a column in which he reminded readers of how Bartlett had characterized him in September of 2003; "if [Krugman] were a cartoon character, he would probably look like Donald Duck during one of his famous tirades.
Krugman's piece pleads that undue credit not be given to those who supported Bush when his approval was at 80%; and oppose him when it's about 38%. He reminds us that for years guys like Bartlett and Sullivan were insulting pundits like Krugman for writing about the clear and obvious failings of W. et al. He doesn't expect it, but thinks a nod of respect from those who failed to see the truth when he did, would be appropriate.
Bartlett's response yesterday make it clear that he remains a rodent.
He begins by defending his voting for Bush twice by saying that Gore and Kerry "were awful candidates who ran dreadful campaigns." So it is their ability to campaign, the likelihood of their victory, that determines who Bartlett supports - not their policies, competence or character. Bush has made it abundantly clear that the ability to campaign is totally unrelated to the ability to govern.
He also didn't like "the shrillness and nastiness of much of the left-liberal critique of Mr. Bush." Last week Bartlett used the words ""unconscionable," "irresponsible," "vindictive," and "inept"" to describe the President. I am so glad that he didn't get shrill and nasty.
As final proof of his personal valor, Bartlett speaks of the personal risks and sacrifices that he took. Unlike a tenured Professor (Krugman), Bartlett's job at a conservative think tank was endangered. But the fact is that he accepted a six figure advance and asked for a reduction in hours to produce the book. According to his employer he lied about the nature of the book he was working on. So it's hardly surprising, but not at all bad for publicity, that when he presented the book to his boss, he was fired. He concludes his response to Krugman by writing "If all this makes me a Johnny-come lately Bush critic, then so be it. In the end, I was fired from my think-tank job without severance for writing my book. That's a price none of my critics have had to pay."
Although he acts the martyr in his reply to Krugman,and in order to promote his book, Bartlett speculated to the Dallas Observer that "maybe he was looking to get fired." A six figure advance isn't bad for a guy who has never been married and is proud of his "Spartan" lifestyle.
And Bartlett continues to write fundamentally dishonest smears against Democrats. Last month he wrote a piece about race, concluding that the "record shows that Democrats, not Republicans, have been the party of racism." His historical analysis is heavy on the 19th century and light on the 20th. His quotes from Stephen A. Douglas, Democrat, come from 1858. He fails to mention Kennedy or L.B.J. In fact he only mentions the Civil Rights Act as a way to smear Sen.Robert Byrd. Bartlett points out that F.D.R appointed Hugo Black to the Supreme Court and describes Black as a "life member of the KKK." Black was a member - for two to three years, not life, and Bartlett failed to mention that "Justice Black quickly established a record sympathetic to African Americans and the civil rights movement....Similarly, he was part of the unanimous Brown v. Board of Education (1954) Court that struck down racial segregation in public schools. He was burnt in effigy by segregationists back in Alabama."
This kind of deceit is standard operating procedure for Bartlett. In January he wrote a piece about corruption in Congress, saying "a reasonable person reviewing all the evidence would have to conclude that Democrats are much more likely to be corrupt." "All the evidence" is really only one piece of evidence: the record of the last 30 years of the House Ethics Committee. And Bartlett fails to mention that the Republicans emasculated that process in 1977. For only the first two years of the Republican's control of the House has there been a functioning committee.
Simply put, Bartlett's expertise was in the thoroughly discredited arena of supply- side (voodoo) economics. As Bush's poll numbers sank, he jumped ship. He lied to his boss about the book he was working on. When the book is finished, he gets fired. The poor guy received no severance (although he was sitting on a six figure advance). He now works full time promoting his book, and writing pieces for the N.Y Times that exploit his victim-hood.
So, now he's a Bush critic, but he's still very much the rat.