You have to laugh (or cry) at the blatant bias in Politico’s headline: “George W. Bush surprises on White House records.” You know Bush must have done something good because the kneejerk reaction of liberal and MSM (I repeat myself) press outlets is to expect Bush to be dumb, dastardly and deceitful. Sure enough, the backhanded compliment follows:
President George W. Bush, whose White House was legendary for its secrecy, seems to have turned over a new leaf in his post-presidency.
A previously undisclosed directive Bush signed almost two years after leaving office could result in many of his official records becoming public faster than those of his predecessor, President Bill Clinton, experts say — a move that’s drawing praise from unlikely quarters.
Bush’s letter to the National Archives about his presidential records, obtained by POLITICO under the Freedom of Information Act, establishes nine categories of documents cleared for release to the public. They include memoranda and reports provided to Bush and his aides that are “purely informational or factual in content,” talking points on policy decisions, scheduling files, and recommendations about whether to sign legislation, while still allowing for withholding of some details of sensitive policy debates.
(Too bad media critics don’t police their own, huh?) There is no reason for surprise, as one academic seven paragraphs down in the piece lets on:
A close observer of White House operations, Towson University political science professor Martha Kumar, said Bush likely views himself as having little to lose and something to gain by being open with his official files.
“He left the presidency very comfortable with his record. I think that’ll carry through into the release of information from it,” Kumar said. “I think he believes his actions were justified and that the records will demonstrate that.”
Shocking as it may seem to liberals, Bush has always been comfortable with his record and confident that, in the long run, history will judge him well.
Was he “legendary” for secrecy? Well, not compared with his successor. Consider that Bush cooperated fully with the 9/11 Commission. (Obama didn’t allow White House officials to submit to outside investigators in the Benghazi, IRS or national security leak scandals.) Bush never tried to prosecute journalists, nor did he refuse to provide basic data about his domestic initiatives (as Obama has done with the woefully incomplete data on Obamacare enrollees). Bush, although entitled to stiff-arm the Senate, cooperated to an unprecedented degree with the Democrats’ witch hunt into the replacement of U.S. attorneys, an action entirely within the executive branch’s discretion. Bush regularly submitted to press grilling (and many weren’t pretty, as Republicans can attest) and never tried to prevent White House photographers from doing their job.
So why are media elites continually surprised? (He paints! He reads! He saves Africans from AIDS!) Liberals were gobsmacked to find out from Peter Baker’s insightful book, “Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House,” that, in fact, Bush even ran his own presidency and Vice President Dick Cheney wasn’t running the show. (Have Rachel Maddow and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) heard?) My goodness, there he was remaking wartime strategy, drafting and redrafting key policy statements and reaching out to woo Democrats. Somehow the vast majority of elite opinion makers never knew this, or chose not to report on it while Bush was in the Oval Office.
Their surprise about Bush explains the media’s incredulity about Obama. How could the smartest, coolest president ever mess up so badly? He was going to eventually give affordable insurance to 30 million people, bring peace to the Middle East, reset relations with Russia, pave the way for a nuke-free world, replace Bush foreign policy with “smart” diplomacy, end our dependence on fossil fuels, create a “new foundation” for America and “change the way business is done” inside the Beltway. He was going to have the most transparent administration in history. Instead, his presidency is characterized by executive overreach, foreign policy incompetency and missed domestic opportunities. (“Imagine . . . that Obama had embraced the bipartisanship of Simpson-Bowles and tried to steer through Congress a package that made the tax system fairer and solved the nation’s long-term debt problem.”)
Imagine the media’s surprise when they learn that Hillary Rodham Clinton’s record at the State Department is littered with failures, scandals and devotion to false State Department nostrums (e.g. settlements are the barrier to peace between the Israelis and Palestinians). Conservatives by now know it’s never surprising that the MSM is continually surprised.