With a few inches of petroleum jelly lathered on their critical lens and a couple tumblers filled with the crystal waters of the River Lethe by their sides, Peter Baker and Jim VandeHei perfect the art of the pulled punch in their look back at the past year of the Bush Presidency. The resulting article is a piece of gorgeous goggle-eyed wonderment that allows the reader to feel the visceral immediacy of the unexpected descent from a turnip truck.
There’s so much to love in the article it’s hard to pick a favorite highlight. For instance, the pair say that one of the lessons learned this year is: “Overarching initiatives such as restructuring Social Security are unworkable in a time of war.” Yeah, or: Unworkable solutions to Social Security are unworkable at any time whatsoever.
We also love their post-election analysis: “Bush and Rove sketched out an ambitious agenda to avoid the traditional pitfalls of second-term presidents. They settled on four domestic priorities for 2005: remaking Social Security, revising the tax code, cracking down on court-clogging litigation and easing immigration rules.” Wha? Three of those four initiatives — Social Security, the tax code, and immigration — are the very definition of pitfall! Bush and Rove weren’t trying to avoid pitfalls, they were running headlong into them hoping that their mandate was going to imbue them with the power of a hundred Tony Hawks!
They go on to describe how Bush’s summer was consumed with the furor over the Harriet Miers nomination (Yeah. Gosh. How’d that happen?) and, most fascinatingly of all, spare a moment of pity over the way Hurricane Katrina brought Bush’s vacation “to an abrupt halt.” Funny: we don’t remember the end of that vacation being quite so abrupt. There are probably people who could speak with considerably more authority on the concept of abruptness and Hurricane Katrina, but, in Baker and VandeHei’s defense, bloated corpses floating face down in sewage are notoriously hard to interview.
Bush Team Rethinks Its Plan for Recovery [Washington Post]