Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 12, 2009

FLEISCHER'S WEAK PITCH.... Rumor has it, a number of the most die-hard loyal Bushies still hope, reality be damned, to rehabilitate George W. Bush's public image. Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer is a leader of the effort, and appeared on MSNBC's "Hardball" yesterday to present at least part of the defense.

The whole thing is worth watching, but this excerpt, put together by TPM, helps make clear just how difficult it is for Fleischer. Right off the bat, Fleischer argues that Bush inherited a recession from Clinton. That, at a minimum, is highly misleading. From there, pressed on whether he's "proud" of Bush's economic legacy, Fleischer said Americans will remember Bush as a president who "kept us safe."

When Matthews pointed out that the attacks of 9/11 happened on Bush's watch, Fleischer responded, "Chris, How dare you." It's not at all clear Matthews' comment was so outrageous to Fleischer.

Also note, towards the end, Fleischer argued, "After Sept. 11, having been hit once, how could we take a chance that Saddam might not strike again?" That man, obviously, is without shame.

I don't generally care for "Hardball" interviews, but Matthews' final point was a good one: "I'm proud that we no longer have an administration that uses that kind argument."

Steve Benen 9:20 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (41)

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Comments

Neo-Nazis have rehabilitated Hitler. Republicans have rehabilitated Reagan, and Nixon. So, why not Bushies rehabilitating George W. Bush?

What is it about President Bush that makes you want to serve him?

Posted by: WInkandanod on March 12, 2009 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

"After September 11th having been hit once how could we take a chance that Saddam might not strike again."

This guy really believes that Saddam attacked us.

Posted by: grinning cat on March 12, 2009 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, it really was a thing of beauty. I watched it three times yesterday.

These Bush "backsliders" are really warped.

Posted by: phoebes in santa fe on March 12, 2009 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Hey Ari - ain't seen you around in a while ...whats cookin' lobbying biz coming up short? book coming out? pimpin fer a spot on Faux nooze. Oh I thought so, there is no such thing as bad publicity

Posted by: John R on March 12, 2009 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I saw most of that interview. Fleischer was trying to turn every question into an attack on Matthews/Clinton/Democrats/anybody but Bush.
It was truly sad and pathetic. The best thing that Bush flunkies could do is to shut up for several years and hope that time gives people a better perspective. I don't think it will, but this spin campaign only makes him look worse.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on March 12, 2009 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

Ari's lost his fastball. His utter bullshit used to be a much higher grade.

Posted by: ed on March 12, 2009 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

I tried to watch the whole thing, but frankly I don't have the stomach for. What a sleaze bag. Do we need these shameless pimps yakking pooky on our screens every day?

Posted by: Goldilocks on March 12, 2009 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

Ari Fleischer is an intellectual whore.

Posted by: Liam J on March 12, 2009 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

I witnessed the Matthews interview and thought "What a very sad man this Ari Fleischer is" while also thinking, "And what a sad time in our history that Bush era was, and what a sad place in history Ari and his boss will share for my grand children and great grand children to learn about."

Ari's narrative is pathetic, insensitive to the truth, and harmful for our bodypolitik!

Keep him relegated to cable news! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on March 12, 2009 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

Ari Fleischer is an intellectual whore.

Intellectual?

Posted by: calling all toasters on March 12, 2009 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

I know it's not polite to use the expression lipstick on a pig literally, but Ari hasn't aged well, has he?

Posted by: Danp on March 12, 2009 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

"After September 11th having been hit once how could we take a chance that Saddam might not strike again."

-I'm glad SOMEBODY caught that whopper-Ari blew that one right past Matthews!

I wish we had some cable folks, besides Keith and Rachel, who could walk and chew gum. . .

Posted by: DAY on March 12, 2009 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

The shills are in the employ of the Bush's.

Shrubwit has greatly besmirched the fine name of the first family of poodleism and if they are going to get back in the game, they have to paper over the black hole of idiocy that was our 43rd "president".

Posted by: burro on March 12, 2009 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

"After September 11th having been hit once how could we take a chance that Saddam might not strike again."

I saw the interview live and I couldn't believe that after calling Fleischer on so much of his BS, Matthews let that one slide. I think he must not have heard him clearly since the 9/11 link to Iraq was just as outrageous a Bush admin lie as the smoking gun mushroom cloud argument.

Posted by: The Other Ed on March 12, 2009 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

Just think, if Ari devotes the rest of his life and his children's lives, and their children's, and so..... to spinning Bush, maybe in the year 2525 he'll be remembered as a Great President!

That's time well spent. You go for it Ari.

I should probably disclaim that since Bush's recklessness regarding green house gas emissions have imperiled the planet, maybe he'll be remembered for that. 'Keeping us safe' not so much.

Posted by: palinoscopy on March 12, 2009 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

His statement that Bush inherited a recession from Clinton is not "highly misleading"-it's a lie. A recession is negative real economic growth, for two or more successive quarters of a year. The 2001 recession was 8 months long, lasting from March to November.

http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/2003-07-17-recession_x.htm

It didn't get to be a recession under that definition until September 2001. Bush had 9 months to avoid one when he had been given a growing economy and budget surpluses "as far as the eye can see".

Posted by: Newton Minnow on March 12, 2009 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

"After Sept. 11, having been hit once, how could we take a chance that Saddam might not strike again?"

Actually, to be totally fair to Fleischer, Saddam didn't strike us on 9/11. So there was a very high probability that Saddam wouldn't strike again. How could we possibly accept those odds? Clearly the only thing the Bush administration could do was attack Saddam before he had the opportunity to not strike again.

Wait...what was the question?

Posted by: chrenson on March 12, 2009 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

> When Matthews pointed out that the attacks of 9/11 happened on Bush's watch,
> Fleischer responded, "Chris, How dare you."

Classic response -- when you can't answer the question, you reject the question itself.

Posted by: Andy on March 12, 2009 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

This is why Matthews annoys me so much. He is intelligent, has a solid understanding of events and recent history, and can recognize B.S. But usually he abandons it all and acts like a drunken frat boy, regardless of which side he's taking.

If he was just completely full of shit like Fleischer, I'd be okay with that. But Matthews keeps showing glimmers of what he could have been.

In all honesty, I like Matthews. I just can't respect him.

Posted by: drew42 on March 12, 2009 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

Regarding the 9/11 - Saddam thing, I thought Matthews final comment was in response to that, wasn't it?

Posted by: drew42 on March 12, 2009 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Should Ari turn down a request to appear on "The Daily Show", would love to see Rob Corddry reprise his Ari role from "W" and mix it up with Jon. Yeah,try tossing that canard past Stewart.

Posted by: berttheclock on March 12, 2009 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

Between the November election and when Bush took office, he actively talked down the economy to make sure that the additional bad news that people were anticipating would happen before he came into office. Thus there has been a great difference between Bush's behavior and Obama's with regard to oncoming bad economic news, and it has been to Obama's credit and Bush's shame.

However, 20 years from now we'll still have republicans trying to rehabilitate Bush's reputation they way they've been shamelessly gilding over the Reagan era. Apparently it doesn't much matter that republican presidents have been pretty bad, as long as the average citizen doesn't actually remember it.

Posted by: N.Wells on March 12, 2009 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

Ari is trying to control the Pilgramage concessions for the trek to Mecca, er Preston Hollow.

Posted by: berttheclock on March 12, 2009 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

George W. Bush leaves a legacy as the President with the highest number of civilian deaths due to terrorism since the Civil War.

Posted by: andrew on March 12, 2009 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

I'll never forget the slimy bastard when he told the country to watch what you say during the runup to the Iraq occupation. He should be tried for treason for that bullshit alone.

Posted by: Paul on March 12, 2009 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

I always felt a little sorry for Scott McClellan, having to follow Fleischer's spectacular tenure as press secretary. Scotty seemed to have a residual shred of decency, of shame, that he couldn't quite scrape off while telling lies to the press corps. Of course, he told them anyway, but he seemed a bit uncomfortable. Ari, on the other hand, told lies as though that's what he was put on Earth to do.

Posted by: Decatur Dem on March 12, 2009 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

What Paul said. The jackboot really got shown with that remark. That no one found this remarkable at the time made me sick.

Posted by: jprichva on March 12, 2009 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

Kept us safe after 9/11?

Hello! ANTHRAX!

So much better to lie. Truth hurts. It's kryptonite to right-wingers.

Posted by: MsJoanne on March 12, 2009 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

Too bad Matthews is so obnoxious. It's very annoying the way he constantly interrupts and won't let his interviewees get a word in. He had me feeling sorry for Fleischer - a near impossibility. I can't imagine why anyone would agree to be interviewed by him.

Posted by: Virginia on March 12, 2009 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK
This guy really believes that Saddam attacked us.

No, he's just hoping to reinforce the belief of the few who still buy into that, and fuzz things up in the minds of those who aren't sure. That that's where he's got to go, abandoning everyone who has paid the slightest bit of attention to the whole thing, in trying to rehabilitate W's image shows just how much of a lost cause that is.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 12, 2009 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK
Neo-Nazis have rehabilitated Hitler. Republicans have rehabilitated Reagan, and Nixon.

Despite Neo-Nazis best efforts, Hitler's image hasn't exactly been rehabilitated; neither, despite the efforts of his Republican supporters, has Nixon's among the general population, and Reagan was, prior to Clinton, the most popular outgoing President since regular polling was done (whether he ought to have been or not) and so hardly needed rehabilitation.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 12, 2009 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

Right off the bat, Fleischer argues that Bush inherited a recession from Clinton. That, at a minimum, is highly misleading.

No, at a minimum, that is a lie:

It's official: 2001 recession only lasted eight months
WASHINGTON (AP) — The committee that puts official dates on U.S. economic expansions and contractions said Thursday that the economy pulled out of recession in November 2001 and since then has been in a recovery phase.
The announcement from the National Bureau of Economic Research's Business Cycle Dating Committee confirmed.... [[t]he 2001 recession began in March that year...."

Bush assumed his selected office in January 2001. The recession began in March 2001.

Posted by: Stefan on March 12, 2009 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, Ari's comments on the recession aren't misleading. (The rest of his comments may well be, of course.)

But, the recession started during Clinton's presidency, just like Obama inherited one from Bush.

Ahh, the two-party duopoly rises again.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on March 12, 2009 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, it's a minor point but I thought you might want to know there's a gremlin eating words out of the middle of your sentences:

It's not at all clear [why] Matthews' comment was so outrageous to Fleischer.
"I'm proud that we no longer have an administration that uses that kind [of] argument."
Posted by: Mr. Grammar Person on March 12, 2009 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Fleischer is still pedalling the Saddam/9-11 connection. SADDAM DIDNT ATTACK US YOU AIPAC ZOMBIE!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: ICanHasDemocracy? on March 12, 2009 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

The question they don't ask is who benefited from the 9/11 attacks? That is the first question any investagator of a crime would ask. Who wanted to attack Iraq and Iran? Who wanted the 'war president', and 'unitary executive'? Who wanted to suspend the first and fourth amendments? Who wanted to use the military inside the USA? Who was warned about a terrorist attack and did nothing? Who has weapons grade anthrax? Who knew there were hijacked planes over the USA and didn't scramble the fighters until it was too late? Who was the Commander-in-Chief when the USA was under attack for nearly two hours with virtually no response?

Posted by: James G on March 12, 2009 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

See my analysis of Fleischer's bloviating at the link.

Posted by: Tom Paine II on March 12, 2009 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Oops - here's the link:

http://notesfromtherustbelt.blogspot.com/2009/03/drinking-kool-aid.html

Posted by: Tom Paine II on March 12, 2009 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Tom Paine II@1.40p - I read your blog on the Matthews/Fleisher "match up" and thought it was very well written. I tried to leave a comment on your comment section, but couldn't get the mechanics right.

Anyway, I'll say it here.

Posted by: phoebes in santa fe on March 12, 2009 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

But, the recession started during Clinton's presidency

No. Clinton's presidency ended January 2001. The recession began March 2001. This isn't that hard to follow.

Posted by: Stefan on March 12, 2009 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, I wish I could be judged by the same standards as the Bushies expect to be judged, ie, aside from our historic, catastrophic failure to protect the country from terrorist attack and from natural disaster, we kept our country remarkably safe.

Catastrophic failures aside, I think you'll agreee that our record is spotless!

Posted by: Chesire11 on March 13, 2009 at 2:18 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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