There's still more. Newsweek's reporters are actually indifferent to the actual foreign-policy records of the presidents they're touting as role models of consultation. They are conducting the ultimate exercise in Washington insider-dom. They are all about The Process. It doesn't matter if you succeed; it only that you make the right phone calls.
Early in the article, Thomas and Wolffe hang the hats of bipartisanship on their Bubble-Boy critique by noting Sen. Richard Lugar "cited Bill Clinton as the model" of consultation with the other party. And what in blazes did that accomplish? Did Clinton consult before his Wag-the-Dog two-day wars? Did Clinton get Osama bin Laden? Or did Clinton follow Murtha's actual advice to him and withdraw from Somalia and embolden Osama? They also cite John F. Kennedy, whose consultation skills didn't exactly help at the Bay of Pigs.
The same goes for domestic political consultation. Thomas and Wolffe hail Daddy Bush as a Murtha-consulting role model. The Thomas-Wolffe story ends by citing Daddy Bush's heroic tax increase as "doing the right thing." He consulted with Democrats and raised taxes. And spending went through the roof, the deficit rising to all-time highs. But he talked it out, slapped some backs, shook some hands. He moved left, and he lost.
In the end, this is about wanting the current President Bush to be moderate . His fault isn't just insularity, it's his occasional outbursts of conservatism. They cite that even Ronald Reagan reached out in his troubled second term to moderate old hand Howard Baker as his chief of staff. But Fred Barnes noted on Fox what Newsweek left out: Newsweek pulled this same attack on Reagan in 1981, with a story that fall on "A Disengaged Presidency."
Maybe one of the lessons Bush learned from his father is that trying to please liberal reporters is not a path to political success. Being "disengaged" from their agenda for your presidency is the smarter move.
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