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Jewish World Review Jan. 22, 2003 / 19 Shevat, 5763

Dick Morris

Dick Morris
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Next to Bubba,
Dubya's got it good | The first escapee from the Bush II White House, David Frum, has contributed a valuable memoir, " "The Right Man"," which offers such interesting insights into the president's style that it makes a comparison with the Clinton White House almost inevitable.

Frum, a mid-level speechwriter who lived in the bowels of the Bush administration recalls how Andy Card, the chief of staff, discouraged factionalism between the two political powerhouses Karen Hughes and Karl Rove saying, "You are not Karl's people or Karen's people, you are all the president's people."

By contrast, Bill Clinton thrived on factionalism. He loved to have staff members at one another's throats. "It's at the seams that I can find my options," Clinton once told me. When his staffers disagreed, there he would find the locus of his decision-making, affording him the opportunity to intervene as the bureaucracy moved along its path.

Purchasing this book
-- linked in 1st paragraph --
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Frum remembers an Oval Office meeting in which Bush would "let fall in the course of the conversation at least one jaw-droppingly candid remark - a brutally frank assessment of some foreign leader or an expression of doubt about some program to which he was publicly committed."

Clinton, battered by leaks to the media, told me that "I have learned never to say anything when there is more than one other person in the room." On Whitewater, Clinton said, "Hillary and I have decided never to talk about it with anyone other than one another." This normally extroverted man, accustomed, in Arkansas, to thinking out loud, had altered his usual style to become an introvert, doing his thinking behind a public poker face in the quiet of his own mind - driven there by leaking.

In Frum's account of the Bush administration, there is virtually no leaking. So extraordinary is the discipline that he cites a leak to Robert Novak about global warming as a solitary example of staff leaking. Clinton's White House lived by the leak. When the questions we had asked in a focus group ended up on the front page of a Sunday edition of The Washington Post, an irate president called screaming at me early in the morning demanding to know "who did you tell" about the research.

"I didn't tell anyone," I said defensively, "only George [Stephanopoulos] and Rahm [Emanuel]."

"You only told George and Rahm?" the president repeated, his voice rising in sarcasm. "You only told George and Rahm?" he repeated. "Why didn't you just issue a f- - -ing press release?" he yelled, his voice reaching a high C.

Frum's casual mention of the fact that Vice President Dick Cheney "employed only a single communications aide" is also incredible to any veteran of the Clinton-Gore administration. Reflecting the vice president's absence of political ambition, a vice president serving only the needs of his boss will be as refreshing as it will be novel to historians.

When Gore was pressing Clinton too much to have his own people put into key jobs in the second term, Clinton asked me, "Are you still close to Al?" Assuring him that I was (this was back in January 1997), he told me, "Tell him to back off. He'll inherit it all anyway, tell him to cool it on always pushing his people." When I told Gore, his only response was to ask, "Did he really say that?"

George, you don't know how good you have it!

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JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, among others, "Power Plays: Top 20 Winning and Losing Strategies of History's Great Political Leaders" Comment by clicking here.


01/16/03: End racism in affirmative action
01/13/03: The new swing voter
01/10/03: Political e-mailing comes of age
01/07/03: In Dem race: Home field no advantage
12/31/02: Hey, Hillary: Want to appear like a stateswomyn? Stay silent
12/19/02: Kerry in the lead
12/19/02: Lieberman the frontrunner
12/17/02: In defense of Lott
12/02/02: An issue for Bush: Drugs
11/27/02: Women gone wobbly?
11/25/02: The U.N. over a barrel
11/15/02: Gore's suicide
11/15/02 One-party control is an illusion
11/13/02 The House of Extremes
11/08/02 I have egg on my face
11/01/02 Is Bush losing control over events?
10/25/02What is causing Bush's free fall?
10/25/02: Anybody sense a trend?
10/23/02: A deadline for Iraq
10/18/02: Only sure bet of 2002 elections is voter angst
10/16/02: Endangered incumbents
10/11/02: Why multilateralism doesn't work
10/09/02: Hey, Dems: Believe NYTimes polling at your own risk
10/03/02: Dem suicide: Let's count the ways
09/30/02: The Dems just can't stop themselves
09/26/02: The perils of polling
09/19/02: W. boxed in the U.N.
09/19/02: Welfare reform: Keep on keeping on
09/12/02: Are Dems insane on Iraq?
09/09/02: Twin shadows of Election '02
09/05/02: GOP should triangulate
08/28/02: Trust the military
08/22/02: It's not the economy, stupid
08/09/02: As America unites, Gore goes divisive
08/01/02: Bush must focus on big picture
07/23/02: Election 2002: Advantage Dems
07/19/02: Rudy for SEC tough cop
07/17/02: The investor strike
07/15/02: Door open for drug testing students --- go for it, GOP!
07/12/02: Dubya looking out for No. 1?
07/03/02: The DNA war for Bush's soul
06/21/02: Why are conservatives winning?
06/19/02: Learning to love the feds
06/14/02: Hey, journalists and Dems: Dubya is doing just fine
06/12/02: It's terrorism, stupid!
06/10/02: Sanctions are a potent weapon
06/04/02: Al Qaeda's more dangerous new front
05/31/02: Why '04 looks tough for liberal Dems
05/24/02: Democratic self-destruction
05/22/02: The Clinton failures
05/15/02: Pataki positioned to win
05/08/02: A wakeup-call for American Jewry
05/03/02: Give Bush back his focus
05/01/02: Immigration fault li(n)es
04/25/02: It's the war, stupid
04/17/02: Bush goes small bore
04/12/02: Bush must be a gentle partisan
04/10/02: In defense of polling
04/08/02: Focus on Iraq, not the Palestinians
04/01/02: Only Internet will bring real campaign finance reform
03/27/02: Where W's drawn a line in the sand
03/22/02: Enron scandal will not trigger a wave of economic populism
03/20/02: Term-limited --- by war
03/15/02: Europe doesn't have a clue
03/11/02: Bush popularity = GOP win?
03/01/02: Will America be forced to chase its tail in its war on terrorism?
02/27/02: The Arafat/Saddam equilibrium must be destroyed
02/21/02: Campaign finance reform won't hurt GOPers
02/13/02: Dodd scurries for cover
02/11/02: U.S. 'unilateralism'? The Europeans don't have a case
02/06/02: WAR: What women want
02/01/02: They all talk in the end
01/30/01: The odd couple: Chris Dodd and Arthur Andersen
01/22/01: His father's son? Bush better get an 'Act II' fast!
01/18/01: Dubya & the 'vision thing'
01/14/01: The Rumsfeld Doctrine 01/03/01: A President Gore would have been a disaster
01/03/02: Clinton's priority: Political correctness over fighting terror
12/27/01: Terror network grew out of Clinton's inaction, despite warnings
12/24/01: Call 'em back, George
12/18/01: What Bush did right
12/13/01: Libs worry too much
12/11/01: "Open Sesame": Feinstein's proposed bill allows 100,000 non-immigrant students from anti-American countries to our shores
12/07/01: The non-partisan president
12/05/01: Both parties are phony on stimulus debate
11/29/01: When terrorists can enter legally, it's time to change the laws
11/21/01: Go for the jugular!
11/16/01: You are all incumbents
11/14/01: Clinton's failure to mobilize America to confront foreign terror after the 1993 attack led directly to 9-11 disaster
11/12/01: To the generals: Don't worry about losing support
11/08/01: The death of the white liberal
11/07/01: Our leaders are being transformed in a way unprecedented in post-World War II history

© 2002, Dick Morris