Sunday Shows--The Booking is the Message

10/01/2006 01:34 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

When the Bush administration is on the offense, they dispatch the heavyweights--Cheney, Rice--to the Sunday shows. When it's on the defense, they dispatch Dan Bartlett. Who? That's exactly the point. Defense is to be played, as in football, by the unglamorous grunts. Bartlett, who bears some such title as White House Director of Communication, is a defensive placeholder, booked on the shows to give the official response to the wave of negative news--Woodward's book, the NIE, Mark Foley--but to do so with a persona that will not make big news on Monday. Bartlett didn't quite make the Full Ginsberg, but he booked 3 out of 5. You don't even have to watch the shows to get the message; when you see Bartlett booked, rather than Rice or Cheney, the administration is saying, "Don't bother watching, we're just playing D."