Ari Fleischer

If nothing else, the NYT report today of additional pre-9/11 warnings about Al Qaeda serves to puncture our disconcerting national amnesia.

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The debate among liberals over the economy has essentially created two camps. You have economic pessimists/political optimists, who have emphasized the awfulness of the economy, but argue that stronger action (or at least rhetoric) from President Obama could measurably improve things, or at the very least help him avoid the blame. Then you have economic optimists/political pessimists, who insist there's no way to pass better macroeconomic policy, but the economy isn't really as bad as people think.

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Plan of Attack

In early May, White House Counsel Greg Craig circulated a memo inside the West Wing. Part of a series of memos on protocol, it explained how to deal with writers researching books and articles on the White House.

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The Flack Gap

In the wake of the fired-prosecutor scandal, I have become rather alarmed at the low quality of the pro-administration spin. I may note a supporter of this administration, but I am an American who wants his government to function well in all areas—including lacking, obfuscating, and misleading the public. There was a time when this administration's apologists were the envy of the world.

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In the past I've wondered whether Ari Fleischer is a diabolical genius or simply a moron. Today Fleischer has a Wall Street Journal op-ed, which I analyze here. It does not answer the central mystery about Fleischer, but it does make it more interesting: Either he's even more evil than I thought, or he's even stupider than I thought. --Jonathan Chait

Fleischer's Limits

Jon Chait once wrote a great piece for us about just how far Ari Fleischer was willing to go in his service to the Bush administration; but we now learn, courtesy of the Libby trial, that even Fleischer drew the line somewhere. From Slate's trial dispatch: It turns out Ari Fleischer will be the next witness, once court resumes Monday.

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Upside-Down Cake

The press has reported that the Iraqi regime spent the prewar months scrutinizing tapes of Black Hawk Down for military lessons. I've begun to suspect that they've also been studying White House press conferences. How else to explain the eerie similarity between the pedagogical styles of Saddam Hussein's chief spokesman, Mohammed Said Al Sahaf, and Ari Fleischer?

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Notebook

TOM'S WAR Every now and then, a politician will, through accident or poor judgment, say something that tells you everything you need to know about him. (It is usually a him.) Bill Clinton's contention that "it depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is" captured forever his evasiveness and moral relativism; Dan Quayle's mangling of the United Negro College Fund motto, "What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful," couldn't help but suggest that he perhaps spoke from experience. Recently, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay joined this proud fraternity.

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Home Front

When the Bush administration unveiled its proposed budget early last month, it made no provision at all for war with Iraq. At first, the White House defended this omission by asserting that war might not happen at all.

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It disappeared so quickly that it is easy to forget the bipartisan patriotism and common purpose that existed in Washington immediately after September 11, 2001. Perhaps the most memorable event from that period was the gathering of members of Congress from both parties on the steps of the Capitol to sing "God Bless America." Another such episode--little-noticed, but actually more remarkable--occurred the following month.

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