I love you James Carville.
His call for former White House speechwriter Matt Latimer to be ‘glove-slapped’ is among my favorite quotes of recent memory. The references to him as a ‘dweeb’ and a ‘punk’ were particularly entertaining too. And totally appropriate too since he just lobbed a blade into the back of President George W. Bush.
Matt Latimer is but another in a long line of former White House staffers who demean the amazing opportunity to work at the highest levels of our republic by trashing it and selling it. And he attempts to justify those actions by implying that he is driven to do so by some self-righteous sense of duty that comes after making the shocking discovery that the White House isn’t exactly as romantic as he had dreamed.
Latimer expects to be given a pass for his gossipy ways by portraying himself as the young, Ronald-Reagan-inspired ideologue (cue ‘Morning in America’) who came to Washington to change the world. On his way to the top however, he made the awful discovery that Washington is actually a place where politics plays a part in decision-making, people make fun of other people and sometimes they, gasp, swear. For someone who purports to be so incredibly sharp, he sure is naïve.
My major beef with Latimer is not the astounding arrogance with which he suggests he was smarter and more morally-centered than basically everyone (including the President) at the White House in which he served. Nor is the fact that he published things he saw and heard there with the discretion of a pre-pubescent girl on her Facebook page. (I do find it amazing that he was able to recount with such vivid accuracy conversations from months ago when I can’t remember what I had for lunch today.) Even the fact that he felt the need to grace the world with a memoir filled with the wisdom that comes from 30-something whole years of living doesn’t bug me most. No, my major problem is that he broke the code shared by White House staff – you don’t trash your friends, your colleagues, and most of all, your President.
I worked in President Bush’s office of speechwriting for the two years following the attacks of September 11, 2001. It was an honor to be there, to be among the brightest, hardest-working, and most-dedicated individuals around, and to serve in those hallowed halls. Overworked, underpaid, and more often than not unnoticed, I wouldn’t trade a day of that experience for anything.