I didn't know the Washington Post ran press releases on its front page. But clearly, actual journalism was not practiced in Friday's interview with Bush "senior staffers" Joshua Bolten and Stephen Hadley.
Reporter Michael Abramowitz states that he participated in a "wide-ranging conversation lasting more than two hours" with the two, but he either was not allowed to ask any real questions or he could not think of any. Certainly, there is no evidence of any attempt to penetrate the hagiographic haze dispersed by two men who are well qualified to join W in the dock at the Hague.
Bolten and Hadley seek to dispel the notion that Bush doesn't really make decisions and that Dick Cheney actually has been in charge. Their method is making vague statements that can never be checked, such as when Bolten attempts to show Bush is "very good about hearing and wanting contrary advice" by asserting that, "plenty of times, I have said, 'Boy, I think that's a terrible idea.'"
"Idea" about what? Maybe whether to work on legs or arms at the gym.
No details are offered. Was Abramowitz prohibited from following up on these vague, but adamant assertions? Seriously, was he?
If there were ground rules for the interview, like no follow-ups or no specifics, we should be told about them. If Hadley and Bolten simply refused to provide the details, we are entitled to know that also. If we have to read every "you know" from Caroline Kennedy, these two should not be so sanitized.
Another example. Hadley is quoted as asserting that, "one of the mythologies is that it was the vice president that somehow was pulling the strings on foreign policy in the first term and made it very ideologically driven and that somehow in the second term, the vice president's influence is in decline and, therefore, somehow the real Bush has come forward, and we have a more pragmatic foreign policy." Hadley then says this is "just hooey. "
However, there is never any example of Bush doing anything significant. Hadley's example is that Bush reviewed lists of incidents and casualties at daily 7 a.m. meetings and sometimes asked for more details. Hadley says that shows Bush knew "what was going on."
I watch Sportscenter, but I don't think I am running the Dodgers. The only decision that Hadley actually links to Bush is "the surge." Funny, that is the only move that is widely asserted to have "worked,' whatever that means.
Did Bush know that Cheney had set up his own intelligence office that only wanted information showing that Saddam Hussein did have WMDs? Abramowitz either didn't ask or wasn't told.
There are no discussions about whether Bush approved of Cheney and Addington's circumvention of the normal legal channels to have the domestic spying, rendition and torture programs approved. There is no discussion of Bush's knowledge of or role in the disastrous decisions related to the occupation credited to Cheney in several authoritative publications.
Without these details, this article is as believable as Larry Craig.
Hey, I know how to write a press release and send it to a newspaper. Sometimes, if I am lucky, it is published as news. But we deserve more from the Washington Post when it gains access to two key members of this secretive administration.
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