George W. Bush as Mincemeat
Jude Wanniski
July 9, 2001


Memo To: Karl Rove, Bush political counselor
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Frank Rich’s assessment, “It’s Good to Be the King”

Frank Rich’s Saturday column in the NYTimes was as hard an assessment of President Bush -- after six months on the job -- that I have seen anywhere. He slices and dices until GWB looks like mincemeat. It is of course a view from a left-of-center perspective, but I have to say it is the kind of thing I’ve been hearing right-of-center as well, so I urge you to take it seriously. Rich is my favorite NYT “political” columnist because he is an independent thinker who is not spoon fed by the Democratic knee-jerk apparatus. Until recently, Rich was the paper’s theater critic, so he can tell a good show from a flop. I don’t wholeheartedly embrace his comments and have told him so, but I do agree the theatrics and photo ops being arranged for the President are subtracting from an earlier sense that he was up to the job. My advice? There are a great many things the President can delegate, but the national economy is not one of them. His father was a one-term President because he let his Cabinet and staff do his thinking for him on the economy. I vividly remember him giving press conferences from his golf cart in Kennebunkport in 1991 as we slid deeper into recession, telling the country to relax. The front page picture of Father and Son Bush in the same golf cart this weekend, next to stories about economic decline, was a chilling reminder. President Bush should not make the same mistake. He has to roll up his sleeves and figure out for himself what is going on. I’m afraid his chief economic advisors now are passing the buck. Senator John McCain was exactly right yesterday on the Sunday talk shows when asked why the President is slipping in the popularity polls. “It’s the economy,” he said, “the malaise.”