Thursday, February 03, 2005

# Posted 6:35 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

ANOTHER LIBERAL MISUNDERESTIMATES BUSH: Yesterday in TNR, David Kusnets, chief speechwriter for Bill Clinton from 1992-94, wrote that
If Bush continues to sound as unabashedly idealistic as he did in his inaugural--when he appeared in a hurry to remake the nation and the world--then you'll know that's the real Bush, not simply the Bush that [Michael] Gerson presented to the world during the last five years. My bet is that's not going to happen...

While [Bush] won't backtrack from his support for democracy overseas, he'll likely lean more heavily on realist rhetoric to explain why such policies will make America more secure.
Wow. It's hard to be more spectacularly wrong than that. (Although you've got to give Kusnets credit for laying it all on the line and making explicit predicitons.)

Speaking more broadly, I find it to be extremely striking that someone with such extensive experience inside the White House speechwriting machine could so thoroughly misunderstand the nature of presidential rhetoric. After leaving the White House in 1994, did Kusnets ever presume that major, substantive aspects of Clinton's rhetoric were the work of speechwriters, rather than a reflection of the president's own interests?

I don't know, but I doubt it. The clear subtext of Kusnets' argument is that Bush didn't understand (or perhaps didn't care about) what he was saying in public during the first four years of his administration. Now that is misunderestimation.
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