Politics

Bush on bin Laden tape: ‘It sounded like he was plagiarizing Michael Moore’

Alex Pappas Political Reporter

Former President George W. Bush in his new book compares the words of terrorist Osama bin Laden to those of liberal activist and filmmaker Michael Moore.

Bush reflects in “Decision Points” that the October surprise of his 2004 presidential campaign against Sen. John Kerry was an Oct. 29 Osama bin Laden tape “mocking my response to 9/11 in the Florida classroom” — something Moore did in one film — as well as warning Americans of another terrorist attack.

“It sounded like he was plagiarizing Michael Moore,” Bush wrote of bin Laden.

The Daily Caller reviewed Bush’s 481-page memoir, which was released Tuesday. Here are 10 other passages we found interesting:

1. Bush thought about replacing Cheney in 2004 with Sen. Bill Frist.

When Vice President Dick Cheney suggested Bush should think about running with someone else in 2004, Bush considered replacing him with Frist, the Republican leader in the Senate from Tennessee.

Bush spoke with advisers, but decided against it. In his book, he writes about Cheney: “While Dick helped with important parts of our base, he had become a lightning rod for criticism from the media and the left. He was seen as dark and heartless — the Darth Vader of the administration.”

Bush also recalls his conversation with Cheney in 2000 about joining the ticket. When Cheney disclosed that his daughter was gay, Bush responded: “I could not care less about Mary’s orientation.”

2. Bush penned a handwritten letter to his father the night he ordered troops to invade Iraq.

Sitting down at his desk in the Treaty Room, Bush ended the letter saying: “I know what you went through.”

3. Bush wanted his father to replace Vice President Dan Quayle with Cheney in 1992.

But his dad, George H.W. Bush, rebuffed him: “He thought the move would look desperate and embarrass Dan,” Bush writes. “In retrospect, I don’t think Dad would have done better with someone else as his running mate. But I never completely gave up on my idea of a Bush-Cheney ticket.”

4. He only briefly mentions the 2004 Dan Rather National Guard story.

While writing that the media was harder on him than Kerry during the 2004 election, Bush only spends one sentence on CBS’s Dan Rather, who lost his job shortly after reporting that Bush did not fulfill his duties in the Texas Air National Guard. It was later revealed that Rather had been duped, and his story was based on forged documents.

On the topic of the press, Bush says: “While the media was eager to scrutinize my military service, their appetite was noticeably less ravenous when Kerry’s came into question.”

5. Suspicion of journalists came early in life.

Bush said his first lesson in being skeptical of journalists came after an encounter with a Newsweek reporter. He helped secure an interview during his father’s run for president with a reporter doing a profile. The story ended up calling George H.W. Bush a wimp. “From then on, I was suspicious of political journalists and their unseen editors,” he said.

6. Not disclosing DUI was his ‘single costliest political mistake.’

The bombshell story right before the 2000 presidential election about an unreported DUI Bush had in his early days “may have been the single costliest political mistake I ever made,” Bush writes.

Karl Rove, the former president writes, “later estimated that more than 2 million people, including many social conservatives, either stayed home or changed their votes.”

7. Bush ‘puzzled’ by McCain’s performance during financial collapse.

Bush said McCain missed a golden opportunity to use the financial collapse to his advantage during the 2008 presidential election. “By handling the challenge in a statesmanlike way, John could make the case that he was the better candidate for the time,” he wrote.

He said he was puzzled by McCain’s performance in a White House meeting that included then Sen. Barack Obama on the economy. “When Obama finished, I turned to John McCain. He passed. I was puzzled. He had called for this meeting. I assumed he would come prepared to outline a way to get the bill passed.”

8. Bush to advisers during financial collapse: ‘You can be damn sure I’m going to be Roosevelt, not Hoover.’

Bush also defended the Trouble Assets Relief Program legislation — the impetus for the Tea Party movement, according to some activists — writing that “[d]epolying TARP had the psychological impact we were hoping for.”

9. Bush had reservations about legendary GOP operative Lee Atwater.

The former president writes that he was very skeptical of Atwater, who went on to manage his dad’s campaign for president.

“Lee, how do we know we can trust you, since your business partners are working for other candidates?” Bush says he asked Atwater. The South Carolina operative, who later died of a brain tumor, was apparently shaken by Bush’s doubts, he says, as Atwater then suggested Bush and his brother, Jeb, move to Washington to help with the campaign, giving the former president a taste of being in the inner circle of a presidential campaign operation.

10. Should the CIA waterboard Khalid Sheikh Mohammed? ‘Damn right.’

When CIA chief George Tenet asked Bush whether waterboarding or other enhanced interrogation techniques could be used on terrorist mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Bush said he simply responded: “Damn right.”