June 2nd, 2007

Bob Woodward, VDB Has Misjudged You

by Philip Baruth

I’ve been re-reading Bob Woodward’s 2002 Bush at War recently. Why? Maybe to try to understand how one mainstream reporter could produce so fawning a tribute to so deficient a President, and in that way become a rotten synechdoche for the way the entire establishment bought the Administration’s post-9/11 hokum.

pitchBut there was one passage that must have escaped me the first time around. Because it’s impossible to believe that I wouldn’t remember it, that I wouldn’t have quoted and used it before now.

It’s the story of Bush throwing out the first pitch in the third game of the 2001 World Series.

This was just days after the launch of the attack on Afghanistan, when Bush’s approval ratings were in the stratosphere. The passage was written out of an interview with Karl Rove, who was at the game that night.

The date was Tuesday, October 30.

Writes Woodward:

The President emerged wearing a New York Fire Department windbreaker. He raised his arm and gave a thumbs-up to the crowd on the third base side of the field. Probably 15,000 fans threw their arms in the air imitating the motion.

He then threw a strike from the rubber, and the stadium erupted.

Watching from owner George Steinbrenner’s box, Karl Rove thought, It’s like being at a Nazi rally.

At the risk of stating the obvious, this is not the observation of Cindy Sheehan or Michael Moore or Bill Maher. This is the first thing that popped into the mind of the President’s own political director.

This man immediately saw an echo of German fascism, and then went on to frame the coming mid-term election in stridently authoritarian terms, targeting even helpful Democratic Senators as weak on terror.

Rove liked what he saw, in other words, liked it a lot. Unreal, when you think about it.

Or very, very real, when you think about it twice.