Karl Rove

FOX News commentator Bill O’Reilly was named one of the “Worst Persons in the World” on Monday’s edition of “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.” This is not shocking or unexpected, as Olbermann often tweaks O’Reilly that way. However, this time stood out to me because of the unbelievable O’Reilly quote Olbermann used against his talk-show rival.

“Look,” O’Reilly said Friday, “by all accounts, the Bush administration defeated Al Qaeda, all right? Al Qaeda was marginalized, been downgraded as a threat to the world. So we won the terror war. We won the war in Iraq, at great cost, no doubt. No doubt. But we won.”

Just to make sure Olbermann hadn’t used an O’Reilly quote out of context, I found a FOX News transcript of Friday’s “O’Reilly Factor.” O’Reilly definitely credited the Bush administration with defeating Al Qaeda and winning the so-called “war on terror.”

O’Reilly uttered the quote during a segment called “Is Obama administration’s attack on Rush Limbaugh a distraction from more serious issues?” Ironically, the “conversation” between O’Reilly, Ann Coulter and former federal prosecutor John Flannery was all over the map and didn’t address the topic until the segment was halfway over. (Click here to read the transcript.)

O’Reilly made the comment in response to Flannery saying he applauds the Bush administration and Karl Rove for finally agreeing to let Rove testify before the House Judiciary Committee investigating whether there was corruption in the Justice Department during Bush’s presidency. It was an odd, off-topic response from O’Reilly.

As for the question posed in the segment’s title, O’Reilly and Coulter agreed that the Obama administration is attacking Limbaugh to distract the American people from more pressing issues like the economy. However, they didn’t expound on their answers, just agreeing on them before the segment ended.

In my opinion, of course the Limbaugh attacks are a distraction, but the reason they still have legs is because (1) they resonate with a large number of people and (2) a lot of Republicans are falling into the trap by trying to distance themselves from Limbaugh and then apologizing to him the next day. Republicans have nobody to blame but themselves for looking like they aren’t allowed to have an opinion contrary to what Limbaugh says. It will be interesting to see how long they carry on like this before they are able to change the subject in the news cycle.


George W. Bush leaves the Capitol via helicopter Tuesday.

George W. Bush leaves the Capitol via helicopter Tuesday.

Former President George W. Bush left Washington, D.C., and is now back in Texas.

And the nation breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Tonight Bush addressed more than 20,000 supporters at a homecoming event held in his honor in Midland, Texas. Attendees reportedly included Bush’s chief political adviser and “brain,” Karl Rove, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez and former adviser Karen Hughes.

“We are back in the state of Texas and we are here to stay,” Bush said.

Quick, somebody put a giant impenetrable dome over the Lone Star State to make sure he keeps his promise.

With that said, I have two compliments for Bush as he rides off into the sunset leaving quite a mess for our new president to clean up. First, I’m glad he didn’t issue a bunch of last-minute pardons like Bill Clinton did before he left office. That means former vice presidential aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby will not have his record expunged, and former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, media mogul Conrad Black and former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens still have to serve time for their crimes.

Secondly, I liked the gesture Bush made toward his successor, Barack Obama, before boarding the helicopter that flew the 43rd president to Texas. As Obama turned to shake Bush’s hand, Bush saluted Obama, the new commander-in-chief of our country. It was a brief but touching moment that made me smile – and I’m surprised I’ve heard nobody comment about it.

Sometimes Bush does the right thing. Too bad he didn’t do it more often. Maybe then our country wouldn’t be facing so many challenges as he leaves office.

In a column printed in the Wall Street Journal last week, former presidential adviser Karl Rove said he and President George W. Bush engaged in three consecutive, yearlong book-reading contests (all won by Rove). Since the dawn of 2006, Bush allegedly read 186 books while Rove read 250. Rove, always the Bush apologist and spin doctor, notes he won the contests easily because Bush is busy being the leader of the free world. (Read Rove’s column here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123025595706634689.html.)

Of course, the odd thing about Rove’s claim is Bush should be too busy to read that many books. I am an avid reader with some extra free time on his hands these days and I still don’t think I could read 95 books in one year as Bush allegedly did in 2006. (And Bush allegedly read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals – a 757-page tome, not including another 160 pages of notes, credits and index – that year!) And to think we’ve been led to believe for years, by Bush himself, that the president doesn’t like reading.

I suspect Rove’s claims of mass reading by Bush may be exaggerated, but if they are true, they explain a bit about the president. For example, Rove says Bush reads instead of watching TV. Does that explain Bush’s lackluster response to Hurricane Katrina? He must’ve been busy reading while every news channel in the United States was broadcasting stories from the disaster, so how could he have known something tragic was happening?

Rove claims Bush’s approach to the reading competition indicates how he tackles goals. “It’s not about winning,” Rove wrote. “A good-natured competition helps keep him centered and makes possible a clear mind and a high level of energy.” So Bush doesn’t care about winning? That explains the lack of proper planning for the Iraq war.

Here’s hoping that after Bush leaves office later this month, he devotes some quality time to reading some books about how he led our country into its current mess. Maybe then he will get a better grasp of how history will judge him, rather than keep believing the Harry Truman post-presidency comparison.