September 22, 2005

Robert Novak: Bush's political problems are a 'communications failure'

Robert Novak recently attended a traditionally pro-GOP conference, and wrote a column about his experience. In it, he describes a gathering of Republicans "bashing" the President and his administration on a wide range of topics. Uncomfortable with this, he spoke up, to be argued down. He notes that "When [a financier who regularly attends these events] thanked me for my comments and said he shared my sentiments, I asked why he did not express them publicly at a session. He replied that he did not feel able to articulate what he felt. Critics of the president who are vocal and supporters who are reticent comprise a massive communications failure."

Reading the article, however, we find only two examples of where Mr. Novak spoke up. The first comes when he addresses a panel on stem cell research, which he is shocked to find consists

"solely of scientists hostile to the Bush administration's position. In the absence of any disagreement, I took the floor to suggest there are scientists and bioethicists with dissenting views and that it was not productive to demean opposing views as based on "religious dogma." The response was peeved criticism of my intervention and certainly no support."
The second contribution Mr. Novak tells us about is where
as a member of the second panel consisting of journalists, I felt constrained to argue against implications that Hurricane Katrina should cause the president to rediscover race and poverty. My comments again generated more criticism from the audience and obvious exasperation by Charlie Rose.
So. Based on these two contributions, others felt they should thank Mr. Novak for voicing concerns that they felt they could not articulate. Furthermore, Mr. Novak's main concern here is that the disconnect between 'critics who are vocal' within a stronghold of the president's party and 'supporters who are reticent' in the same environs - note that he tells us there were strong no-quote rules in effect, which prevent him from giving us names or quoting anyone other than himself, so the reticence on the part of the supporters can't be for fear of being identified by anyone except their own party comrades. This, in effect, ignores the main issue, as far as I'm concerned, at least.

Mr. Novak, has it ever occurred to you that perhaps, just perhaps, the reason even some of your own are angrily overriding you in a private retreat is because your president and his administration are just wrong?

Just throwing that one out there, sport.

I note that you don't seem to be concerned about the actual state of affairs. You seem to be concerned that the President and the Administration are losing effective control of their message and their ability to mobilize and maintain party unity. That's the first (and only, really) thing you're offering concerns about in this article.

You call yourself a journalist? Go get a job writing for the Republican Party Newsletter if that's what you're going to cover.

Posted by jbz at September 22, 2005 4:55 PM | TrackBack

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