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Barney Unleashed

By Ruth Marcus
Friday, May 30, 2008

I know what they'll say. "This doesn't sound like Barney, it really doesn't." "A completely different canine is emerging in this book than the one we knew." "Frankly, I don't remember him barking up about these things at the time."

And about the president's reaction: "He doesn't recognize this as the Barney that he scratched behind the ears for so many years."

Like I was some kind of lapdog.

A few years ago, Woodward reported that the Big Guy said he'd stay in Iraq "even if Laura and Barney are the only ones supporting me."

Well, Mr. Bigshot Investigative Reporter -- did you ever try asking me? I don't know about Laura, but I could have sniffed out that there weren't any WMD.

This book isn't just another bark-and-tell -- though I do have a few bones to pick. Karl Rove called me a "lump." Lump? Did I almost get myself indicted? At least I'm smart enough not to do a rap routine at a press dinner.

Dana Perino said I was "kind of standoffish . . . he doesn't let people get too close to him." Would you let people get close if they strapped a video camera around your neck every year for the, pardon the phrase, doggone Christmas video?

Barney-cam! They wouldn't do that to Jenna!

Being First Dog -- it looks glamorous, but, really, it's a dog's life. No digging up the South Lawn. No licking yourself in public. Keep the press away from the twins, sure, but exploit the dog. Up the helicopter steps, down the helicopter steps.

I know it's a shock to hear all this, especially from me. Et tu, Barney, and all that. I was supposed to be the ultimate loyalist, man's best friend. It's not that I'm bitter about being elbowed aside by Miss Beazley in that shake-up a few years back. If they could ditch Andy Card after all the poop he scooped for them -- well, none of us is safe.

I agree with my good buddy Scott -- he never called me a lump! The president is "a man of personal charm, wit and enormous political skill." Like Scott, "I continue to have great affection for George W. Bush, to this day."

But Scott's right, he does suffer from a "lack of inquisitiveness." I mean, the president will throw you a tennis ball, and it will disappear somewhere in the grass, and he won't even go look for it -- he just asks the Secret Service for another one. A guy like that is not going to cross-examine Scooter Libby about intelligence.

Some people will read this book and think I'm just in it for the kibble. Sure, a dog's got to eat. And Ari Fleischer's right -- my editor "tweaked some things closely in the last couple months." But like Scott said (and, yes, we have the same publisher), "The White House would prefer I not speak out openly and honestly about my experiences, but I believe there is a larger purpose."

So let them declare a War on Terrier. Like they say back in Texas: That dog won't hunt.

marcusr@washpost.com

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