catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

More on the corruption of US conservative think tanks

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Bruce Bartlett writing in The American Conservative:

On Feb. 21, Doubleday will publish the book that cost me my job: Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy.

The germination began when I heard about the extraordinary efforts made by the White House to ram the Medicare drug benefit through the House of Representatives during the night …

I still don’t know what information the White House had about WMD, and I don’t believe that President Bush knowingly falsified data to undertake a war he had already decided upon for other reasons. But I am dismayed that the White House subsequently claimed that WMD were only a secondary reason for the war and that liberating the Iraqi people was the primary aim.

Knowing what I know now, I would not have supported the war. But sometimes leaders must take action based on incomplete and inconclusive evidence. Where I really fault the White House is on its extreme reluctance to admit error and for inadequately preparing for the postwar operation. A willingness to admit honest error has always seemed to me to be a hallmark of great leadership. Sadly, this White House failed that test.

Bartlett goes on to discuss a New York Times interview he did with Ron Susskind, an extract of which is reproduced below:

Bartlett, a 53-year-old columnist and self-described libertarian Republican who has lately been a champion for traditional Republicans concerned about Bush’s governance, went on to say: ‘This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can’t be persuaded, that they’re extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he’s just like them …

The consequences were predictable:

My boss at the National Center for Policy Analysis, the conservative think tank where I worked, told me that Karl Rove had called him to complain about the article, and I was forbidden from writing anything or giving any interviews that might have blunted its political impact …

I was repeatedly warned that every time I criticized President Bush—even if it was for violating the very principles for which the organization existed—I was losing contributions among Bush’s supporters, who represented a large part of the organization’s fundraising base.

In a meeting with the chairman and president of the organization, I was told that if I continued to criticize the president, I would be fired. At no time did anyone connected with the organization ever tell me that my substantive analysis was wrong. Nor had anyone ever warned me against criticizing Bill Clinton …

As I researched, it became increasingly clear to me that I was going to have a hard time finding anything good to say about Bush’s economic policy …

I knew this would create problems, but I thought that if conservatives simply read my argument, analysis, and supporting documentation, they would have no choice but to accept my conclusion that George W. Bush isn’t one of us.

In retrospect, I was naïve in thinking that facts and analysis had much chance against money and misguided loyalty to friends and party. After giving the completed manuscript to my boss, I was fired without severance after 10 years of service.

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Written by Admin

March 8, 2006 at 12:25 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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