Monday :: May 19, 2003

Why Ari Will Not Be Missed


by Steve

Jake Tapper in Salon tonight tells us many reasons why Ari Fleischer will not be missed, and provides some quotes from the whipped White House media pack on Ari and his departure. I will summarize the article, rather than link to it, as it is from their premium service, which I highly recommend to you (thanks Ken.)

A senior Republican congressional aide pointed to one of Fleischer's higher-ups as the reason so many reporters found Fleischer wanting. "All [Bush senior aide Karl] Rove wants is just a P.A. system," the aide said. "It's not really a job with a lot of art to it in this administration. Ari is just a guy who goes out there and reads some version of congressional campaign committee talking points. It's something that anybody with a larynx could probably do."

There you have it: Ari the Larynx.

But while Fleischer served his patrons with loyalty and single-mindedness, he frustrated reporters by going far beyond spinning -- telling untruths and taking great effort to intimidate, several White House reporters said. "No one's shedding any tears," said another White House reporter. "His personal style -- the smarminess and unctuousness -- was annoying to people. But his deceptions and the telling of falsehoods is what really turned people against him."

Fleischer fueled the essentially bogus "White House vandalism" story, about the Clinton staff's exodus from the West Wing, by telling reporters, "What we are doing is cataloging that which took place." He did this with a certain flair -- engaging in partisan demagoguery while claiming to be doing the exact opposite. It really was quite magnificent, in its way. "I choose not to describe what acts were done that we found upon arrival, because I think that's part of changing the tone in Washington," Fleischer said. "I think it would be easy for us to reflect and to discuss these things, and to be critical. President Bush chooses to set a different tone." Where was all the damage done? "You know, I really stopped paying attention to all the different places," he said.

Nine months later, defending the president's hopscotch across the country in Air Force One on 9/11, Fleischer asserted that the White House was the target of Flight 93, a claim that again proved to be false.

Despite then-candidate Bush's continual refrain on the campaign trail that he loathed the concept of "nation building" -- on Oct. 11, 2000, Bush said, "We're going to have kind of a nation-building corps from America? Absolutely not" -- Fleischer on Feb. 27, 2003, denied that the president ever voiced such an opinion. "During the campaign, the president did not express, as you put it, disdain for nation building," said Fleischer.

And Ari provided unintended comic relief for the browbeaten media:

Fleischer was actually laughed out of his own briefing room last February when he disputed that the U.S. government -- then fiercely engaged in a campaign to win support for its Iraq resolution in the United Nations -- was doing so. "Think about the implications of what you're saying," Fleischer said incredulously. "You're saying that the leaders of other nations are buyable. And that is not an acceptable proposition." The room erupted in laughter.

But Ari was a thug as well:

There was the side to Fleischer that liked to bully. It was most famously displayed when comedian Bill Maher, then host of ABC's "Politically Incorrect," unfavorably compared the courage of U.S. foreign policy makers with the 9/11 terrorists -- "We have been the cowards," he said, "lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away" -- Fleischer noted that all Americans "need to watch what they say, watch what they do."

After William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, predicted in the Washington Post that Vice President Al Gore would win the election, Fleischer called him to tell him his prediction had been "noted."

In May 2001, Bennett Roth of the Houston Chronicle -- pointing out that the president had encouraged parents to speak to their children about drug abuse -- asked Fleischer, "How much has he talked to his own daughters about both drugs and drinking? And given the fact that his own daughter was cited for underage drinking, isn't that a sign that there's only so much effect that a parent can have on their children's behavior?" Fleischer asked Roth to respect the president's privacy and later called him, reporting that his question had been "noted in the building."

As I said earlier today Ari, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out of town, you weasel.

Steve :: 9:17 PM :: Comments (3) :: Digg It!