Matthew Dowd is coming full circle. He's a former Texas Democrat who in 1999 tied his wagon to George W. Bush, falling "in love" with the great man, becoming his speechwriter, a shameless war cheerleader, and architect of the attacks in 2004 on John Kerry's "weak" foreign policy.
In a NYT interview in March, however, Dowd announced that though he "really likes" Mr. Bush, his faith in the war-monger-in-chief had been misplaced.
Mr. Dowd, a crucial part of a team that cast Senator John Kerry as a flip-flopper who could not be trusted with national security during wartime, said he had even written but never submitted an op-ed article titled “Kerry Was Right,” arguing that Mr. Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat and 2004 presidential candidate, was correct in calling last year for a withdrawal from Iraq.
“I’m a big believer that in part what we’re called to do — to me, by God; other people call it karma — is to restore balance when things didn’t turn out the way they should have,” Mr. Dowd said. “Just being quiet is not an option when I was so publicly advocating an election.”...
His views against the war began to harden last spring when, in a personal exercise, he wrote a draft opinion article and found himself agreeing with Mr. Kerry’s call for withdrawal from Iraq. He acknowledged that the expected deployment of his son Daniel was an important factor.
A secret op-ed, then, to salve the conscience.
Mr. Dowd’s journey from true believer to critic in some ways tracks the public arc of Mr. Bush’s political fortunes.
Indeed that epiphany was right on cue. And the White House response, to declare that Dowd was going through "personal turmoil", was also to be expected. Here is how Bush belittled Dowd at a press conference.
THE PRESIDENT: First of all, I respect Matthew. I've known him for a while; as you mentioned, he was an integral part of my 2004 campaign. I have not talked to Matthew about his concerns. Nevertheless, I understand his anguish over war. I understand that this is an emotional issue for Matthew, as it is a lot of other people in our country. Matthew's case, as I understand it, is obviously intensified because his son is deployable. In other words, he's got a son in the U.S. Armed Forces, and I can understand Matthew's concerns.
And now Dowd has had a further epiphany. The time for withdrawal is now.
On one issue -- the war -- Dowd cannot claim to be detached. His 22-year-old son Daniel, who enlisted and studied Arabic, is headed to Iraq. "My own personal opinion is we ought to bring the troops home as quickly as possible," Dowd says of the war he defended as a Bush strategist.
I won't mock Dowd's concern over his son's deployment. It's a noble sentiment, for once. Parents live in terror when their children are sent off to war, or caught up in wars that come in search of them. It would be a far better world if all politicians came to recognize what dread war holds.
If they would take this President as their model of how not to behave.
At a private reception held at the White House with newly elected lawmakers shortly after the election, Bush asked Webb how his son, a Marine lance corporal serving in Iraq, was doing.
Webb responded that he really wanted to see his son brought back home, said a person who heard about the exchange from Webb.
“I didn’t ask you that, I asked how he’s doing,” Bush retorted...