Bashing Bush, Matt Latimer, and Peggy Noonan
So another “Bush bashing” book is out (at least in excerpt) and the Bushie loyalists are again charging the airwaves and the Internet to defend GWB. Just as we saw with Scott McClellan, they’ll define Latimer as a doofus, out of the loop, in over his head, not as important as he thinks. (Which, of course, begs the question why the Administration excelled at hiring the incompetent and the self-important. Didn’t they have a screening process?)
I have read the excerpts of Latimer’s book and frankly don’t find all that much wrong with it. I’ll likely buy the book and consume it all simply because I liked the way the excerpts were written. His publisher is right. He has an engaging style. Was he in the room or across the street at the EEOB? Who cares. He was clearly closer to the President than 99.9% of Americans will ever get in their life, so let him have his say. We might find it interesting.
The treatment Latimer has received in the last 36 hours, however, has left me perplexed. It reminded me a lot of McClellan’s welcoming reception and that reminded me of something Peggy Noonan wrote.
William Safire, himself a memoirist of the Nixon years, said to me, a future memoirist of the Reagan years: “The one thing history needs more of is first-person testimony.” History needs data, detail, portraits, information; it needs eyewitness. “I was there, this is what I saw.” History will sift through, consider and try in its own way to produce something approximating truth.In that sense one should always say of memoirs of those who hold or have held power: More, please.
Noonan, and by extension Safire, were spot on. I think that every White House staffer should not be discouraged, but rather should be required to write a book, and tell the story of their time there. Our history demands that those making it (whether the President or his secretary) should provide us with as much detail as possible. When these books are written we should not denounce the writer, we should simply ask for the next installment from the guy who sat next to Latimer so we could see how he remembered the events.
One of the most interesting conversations I have ever had was with the woman who sat next to Monica Lewinsky in the White House. She once gave me her take on the woman behind the blue dress and it meant more to me than any ABC News special report.
Do I buy the caricature of Latimer as an opportunist trying to parlay his brush with fame into a financial windfall? Absolutely. Do I also believe that much of what he says is probably exactly as he remembers it? Absolutely.
That’s why we need more of these books, not less. We need to be able to compare notes and make our own determination about what happened, who these people were, where they made mistakes and where they proved they were only human.
Now, the latest to weigh in against Latimer in protecting the Bush years is James Carville.
This little dweeb needs to be glove slapped… People that have the honor of working in the White House ought not be going out and publishing this…
I couldn’t disagree with Carville more.
The people that need to be glove slapped are Carville and his ilk for attempting to silence future tomes. If Dana Perino, Tony Fratto, or Ed Gillespie recall events differently, let them write a book and give us their take. By the time all the ink dries, we might have a semi-complete picture of life inside the GWB administration.