If the Bush administration were a stock, it would be plummeting.

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
April 2 2007 7:26 PM

The Bush Sell-Off

It's all in the timing.

Two moderately prominent investors in Team Bush—Matthew Dowd, Bush's one-time pollster and chief campaign strategist, and Vic Gold, who ghosted one book with Bush père and co-authored another with Lynne Cheney—are rather noisily dumping their shares. Dowd gave an interview on the front page of the April 1 New York Times. Gold gave one on April 2 in the Washington Post's Style section and is peddling a new book about his disenchantment titled Invasion of the Party-Snatchers: How the Holy-Rollers and the Neo-Cons Destroyed the GOP.

Dowd and Gold were preceded in their sell-off by Kenneth Adelman, a former member of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board who told The New Yorker's Jeffrey Goldberg of his disillusion with his old friend Don Rumsfeld in a Nov. 20 "Talk of the Town"; David Kuo, deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, who in October poured out his heart to 60 Minutes and to Beliefnet.com, and in his book Tempting Faith; Paul O'Neill, Bush's treasury secretary, who leaked 19,000 memos from the White House, National Security Council, and Treasury Department to journalist Ron Suskind for his book The Price of Loyalty (published in January 2004) and also tattled extensively to 60 Minutesand  Time; and John Dilulio, director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, who decried (again to Suskind, this time in Esquire) the nonexistence of serious policy discussion in the Bush White House in January 2003.


The various fates of the defectors would seem to indicate that Team Bush is the rare market where it doesn't pay to get ahead of the crowd.

By far the greatest humiliation endured by the above-mentioned Bush defectors rained down on the earliest bird of all, Dilulio. Within seconds of the Esquire piece hitting the stands, the White House was able to wring a series of groveling public apologies. The White House achieved this, it has been whispered, by scrutinizing the Venn diagram of rich people who gave both to the Bush campaign and to the University of Pennsylvania, where Dilulio taught. Some fat-cat Bushie Penn alumnus was then dispatched to instruct the Penn administration (or perhaps Dilulio himself; this part's unclear) that Dilulio's rude comments might prove costly to university fund-raising if they weren't retracted with all deliberate speed.

O'Neill was another early bird. One would think he'd have been rendered immune from such pressures by his personal wealth. But somehow, upon publication of The Price of Loyalty, O'Neill was persuaded to apologize for telling Suskind that Bush acted like "a blind man in a roomful of deaf people." The leverage here may have been the retaliatory Treasury investigation into whether O'Neill's leaks had broken the law. (He hadn't, and O'Neill was cleared.)

By comparison, Johnny-come-latelies Dowd and Gold seem to be getting off easy. Of Dowd (who also laid into Bush in the March Texas Monthly), White House counselor Dan Bartlett said only, "[Y]ou can respectfully disagree with someone who has been supportive of you." Lynne Cheney phoned to ask Gold about his book; after he explained what it was, she merely said, "I am sorry to hear that." If more thuggy responses are occurring behind the scenes, they don't seem to be eliciting apologies. Where are the kneecappers of yesteryear? Looking for a candidate for '08, I guess—preferably one who distances himself from George W. Bush. The only downside to deserting Bush at this late hour is that sooner or later all the best media outlets will be used up. Please note, however, that Slate's dance card is still free. If you are a reasonably visible Bush loyalist who would like to declare the current administration a complete disaster, please e-mail chatterbox@slate.com. You'd better make it good, though. This story's starting to get old.

Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His  book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.


Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

  News & Politics
Sept. 23 2014 12:43 PM Occupy Wall Street How can Hillary Clinton be both a limousine liberal and a Saul Alinsky radical?
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Head of Security Had a Legacy of Sabotage
Sept. 23 2014 1:57 PM Would a Second Sarkozy Presidency End Marriage Equality in France?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 2:31 PM 3 Simpsons Showrunners Reflect on New Fans and the “Classic Era” Myth
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 1:50 PM Oh, the Futility! Frogs Try to Catch Worms off of an iPhone Video.
  Health & Science
Sept. 23 2014 1:38 PM Why Is Fall Red in America but Yellow in Europe? A possible explanation, 35 million years in the making.
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.