Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bartlett on Latimer on Bartlett (no relation) and Rove

Bruce Bartlett devotes more time on his blog to Matt Latimer's new book "Speech-Less" today focusing on Latimer's trashing of two more of Bush's top aids.

First up, Dan Bartlett,
On page 212 we learn that Dan Bartlett (no relation) a senior White House staffer took credit with the president for an idea Latimer had come up with. The picture of Bartlett Latimer presents confirms what I have heard from other White House staffers--he was utterly incompetent but had a knack for getting along with Bush, which was enough to relentlessly push him up the ladder of success from Bush go-fer to one of the most important officials in government. Latimer says there was a whole group of such people in the White House: "These were mostly well-meaning people who rose to the very top because they were likable, not supremely qualified." That's an understatement.
It's not exactly a revelation that personal loyalty to Bush got unqualified hacks promoted to positions far beyond their ability, ie Alberto Gonzales and Harriett Miers.

Latimer then turns to Rove,
Latimer is surprisingly critical of Karl Rove, given that he remains a darling of conservatives. Latimer correctly notes that Bush should have won the 2000 election easily and that it was close only because Rove stupidly wasted millions of campaign dollars in a futile effort to win California in the last days of the campaign instead of shoring up Florida. Latimer also notes that Bush's re-election should have been a slam-dunk but ended up being close. Thus Latimer thinks that Rove's reputation as a political genius is totally undeserved. I agree. Here Latimer summarizes his assessment of Rove:

"Karl was not the hero of the Bush White House, the brilliant behind-the scenes strategist. He was what all the liberals said he was: the villain. And to make matters worse, a clumsy one at that. He employed ham-handed tactics, put forward obviously unqualified subordinates, and stubbornly defended them. He'd turned out to be less a Voldemort than a Boris Badenov chasing Rocky and Bullwinkle."
Again, this is not exactly a revelation. A Republican friend of mine asked me to admit that Rove was a political genius and my response was the same as Latimer's. No genius would have had Bush wasting his time in California which he had no hope of winning, the last few weeks of the election. I call the California strategy Karl's Folly. Under Rove's guidance Bush was reelected with the smallest margin in American history and this during a war. Republicans still defend Rove but only because of their instinct to circle the wagons. Soon enough, they will be throwing him under the bus.

(HT again to Andrew)

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