Sunday, February 19, 2006

Doin' the Supply-Side Glide when the ice is thin...

Bruce Bartlett, longtime supply-sider and analyst for a plutocratic Dallas think-tank, has written a new book about America's Supreme Leader innocuously entitled Impostor : How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy and, as a result, will be "spending more time with his family." As Robert Wilonsky writes in the Dallas Observer:
"Just in the past few months, I think a light has gone off for people who've spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he's always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do. 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...This is why he dispenses with people who confront him with inconvenient facts. He truly believes he's on a mission from God."

Keep in mind it wasn't Ted Kennedy who said this. It was a Republican who'd been on Bush's daddy's payroll. A Republican who wrote two very sober-minded books on economic policy, 1981's Reaganomics: Supply Side Economics in Action and 1983's The Supply-Side Solution. A Republican who has pushed for tax reform and small government in his syndicated column and in op-eds that have appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and other more right-leaning publications. And a Republican who, since 1995, had been on the payroll of the conservative Dallas-based think tank called the National Center for Policy Analysis, which counts among its board members and contributors Dallas' Fred Meyers, the Aladdin Industries executive who raised more than $200,000 for Bush's 2004 campaign and chairs the Republican National Committee's Presidential Victory Team.

As it turned out, Bartlett's boss at the National Center for Policy Analysis wasn't too thrilled with the Suskind piece. Bartlett says now he thought his conversation with Suskind was an off-the-record chitchat among friends, but like a kid caught hurling spitballs at the teacher, he was called into the principal's office and reprimanded by John C. Goodman, the NCPA's founder and president, and former governor of Delaware Pete Du Pont, chairman of the NCPA's board of directors.

"John called me the day after the article appeared and told me that Karl Rove had called him to complain about it," Bartlett says from his home in Great Falls, Virginia, where, from all accounts, most rooms are filled with ancient bookshelves and file cabinets filled with reams of tax-related documents. At 54, he boasts of having no wife or children to interfere with his self-proclaimed Spartan lifestyle.

"And that was really when they started to really pressure me to tone down my criticism," Bartlett recalls of that meeting at the NCPA's Washington, D.C., offices. "I know that there was contact [with the White House], and I know that Rove knows John Goodman, because the one time I met Rove and talked to him, he asked me what John was doing, and they know each other from Texas politics."

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