Top Strategist Loses Faith in Bush

Matthew Dowd, US President George W. Bush's chief strategist in the 2004 crucial presidential race, has lost faith in Bush over his "my way or the highway" mentality, insisting that his White House rival Senator Jon Kerry was right on Iraq.

Top Strategist Loses Faith in Bush

"I really like him (Bush), which is probably why I'm so disappointed in things. I think he's become more, in my view, secluded and bubbled in," Dowd told The New York Times in a wide-ranging interview published on Sunday, April 1.

Dowd, who had switched from the Democrats to Republicans for Bush's sake, noted that since winning reelection in 2004, Bush is no longer the president he used to be.

He particularly cited Bush's mishandling of the Iraq war and the deadly Hurricane Katrina.

"When you fall in love like that," he said, "and then you notice some things that don't exactly go the way you thought, what do you do? Like in a relationship, you say 'No no, no, it'll be different'," said Dowd.

In speaking out, Dowd, who was advising Karl Rove, Bush's closest political adviser, and the rest of the Bush team as they set out to woo voters in 2004, became the first member of Bush's inner circle to break so publicly with him.

He said his decision to step forward had not come easily but his disappointment in Bush's presidency was so great that he felt a sense of duty to go public given his role in helping Bush gain and keep power.

"I'm a big believer that in part what we're called to do — to me, by God — is to restore balance when things didn't turn out the way they should have.

"Just being quiet is not an option when I was so publicly advocating an election."

"My Way"

Dowd said Bush is still governing with a "my way or the highway" mentality reinforced by a circle of trusted aides.

"If the American public says they're done with something, our leaders have to understand what they want," he told the Times.

Dowd criticized Bush for ignoring the will of the American people on Iraq.

"They're saying, 'Get out of Iraq,'" he said, noting that Bush was losing his "gut-level bond with the American people."

The Democrats-led Congress has dealt Bush a heavy blow by adopting two separate motions setting a deadline for the withdrawal of troops from the chaos-mired country.

In justifying the action, Democratic leaders and several Republicans insisted that the American people have spoken out clearly about Iraq in the mid-term polls, which gave Democrats full control over Congress for the first time in 12 years.

According to the latest poll, only 27 percent of Americans supported the war with a majority supporting troops pullout by September 2008.

Dowd believes Bush had not moved aggressively enough to hold anyone accountable for the Abu Ghraib scandal.

He was dumbfounded when Bush did not fire then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld after the shocking abuse photos.

Some of the photos showed inmates piled up naked on the floor, cowering in front of snarling military dogs, chained to beds in stress positions, with women's underwear put over their heads, and forced to stand naked in front of female guards.

Several US dailies revealed that hawkish Rumsfeld and former top US commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, gave free reign to US officers in Abu Ghraib to adopt various torture and abuse tactics used at notorious Guantanamo.

"Kerry Was Right"

Dowd said Kerry was correct in calling last year for a withdrawal from Iraq.

Dowd, who in 2004 helped cast Senator Kerry as a flip-flopper who could not be trusted with national security, admitted that he wrote an article titled "Kerry Was Right."

He said Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat and 2004 presidential candidate, was correct in calling last year for a withdrawal from Iraq.

In television interviews in 2004, Dowd said that Kerry's campaign was proposing "a weak defense," and that the voters "trust this president more than they trust Senator Kerry on Iraq."

But he was starting to have his own doubts by then, he said.

Dowd, who indicated that he might support Senator Barack Obama in the 2008 White House race, said he started giving the Iraq war a second reading when he watched his oldest son prepare for deployment to Iraq as an Army intelligence specialist fluent in Arabic.

Only then, he says, he had become so disillusioned with the war that he had considered joining street demonstrations against it, but that his continued personal affection for Bush had banned him.

Dowd also said he was personally provoked to see Bush preferring to "entertain" bicyclist Lance Armstrong in his Crawford ranch than to meet anti-war icon Cindy Sheehan, whose corporal son died in Iraq.

"I had finally come to the conclusion that maybe all these things along do add up," he said.

"That it's not the same, it's not the person I thought."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16