WashPost’s Sally Quinn: Bush ‘Relieved’ About Losing Congress

"Washington Post" reporter Sally Quinn appeared on Monday’s "American Morning," ready to psychoanalyze President Bush in the wake of last week’s midterm defeat. Quinn discussed the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the hiring of Robert Gates as a replacement, and how President Bush is secretly "relieved" over the drubbing the GOP received. Now, either Ms. Quinn has become a psychological expert on why Bush is hiring former advisors to his father, or she’s just another member of the media who wants to be a part of important inner-circle decisions:

Quinn: "But I just have a feeling that it was clear to the father that the son -- clearly, he made Rumsfeld Secretary of Defense -- that the son did not want his father's advice on a lot of these things....I felt the other day watching Bush that he was almost relieved in a way about losing the House and the Senate. I know that sounds weird, but it was as though, ‘Okay, now I really have permission. I can take my father's advice.’ And, also, that it's not all on him anymore. It's not all on the Republicans. The Democrats are going to have to take a lot of the responsibility now."

O’Brien: "It's nice to, nice to share a little blame, isn't it, in some cases? And in this case, perhaps share some blame with his father. I wonder why it took him so long to reach out this way.  wonder why it took him so long to reach out this way. Did -- was -- did he have to have that election in order to prompt this?"

It’s not clear how Ms. Quinn discerned this fact simply by "watching" the President. Certainly she offers no sources or information to back up her synopsis. Also, what blame will President Bush now be sharing with his father? The blame of not taking care of Saddam during the first Gulf War? Perhaps the CNN host simply got carried away in the fun of amateur psychology. The "Washington Post" writer answered O’Brien’s question with more inside "information," this time that the President wouldn’t have fired Rumsfeld if the GOP proved victorious in the midterms:

Quinn: "I think if the Democrats had not won the House and the Senate, that Rumsfeld would probably stay on, even though the Republicans were against Rumsfeld and wanted him out, because they've got 2008 to look forward to. And they see that the war becomes a bigger problem all the time. I think the big loser here is Cheney, because Rumsfeld has been the face of the war for the last six years. And now with him gone and refusing to be the scapegoat, who, who are they going to look to? They're going to look to Cheney, because it's Cheney's war, too."

O’Brien: "Only one scapegoat left, I guess, in some respects."

So, according to O'Brien, Cheney will be Bush’s final scapegoat? It’s good to see that CNN will be continuing its balanced tone into the new Congress.

As for Ms. Quinn, perhaps she's on to something. "Some" are wondering if Bush and Rove did tank the midterms on purpose.

A complete transcript of the segment, which aired at 8:15a.m. on November 13, follows:

Miles O'Brien: "The Bush White House getting some help from the Bush White House. The Iraq Study Group filled with members of the senior Bush administration. They're meeting, as we speak, with the current administration officials to try to see a path cleared to getting those troops out of Iraq in some sort of face-saving way. Have you seen the 'Newsweek' cover this week? Take a look at this. There's a long article in there. 'Father Knows Best,' it is. You see the senior Bush in the foreground and the son in the background. Sally Quinn of 'The Washington Post' joining us -- sister publication of 'Newsweek,' joining us from our D.C. bureau to talk a little bit about this. Sally, good to see you on the program, as always."

Sally Quinn: "Nice to see you."

O’Brien: "I want to read just a little excerpt of this piece for folks and just to give you the gist of it. I think people get the idea just by seeing 'Father Knows Best.' But let's press on. 'These are 41's men. The removal of Rumsfeld, an ancient rival of Bush Senior's, from the Ford days, is a move toward the broad middle. The apparent triumph of pragmatism over ideology in Iraq was welcome news, at least to the public.' And, of course, 41, we're referring to the senior Bush. How much of this is a real kind of a father-son struggle, do you think?"

Quinn: "I, I think it's an enormous father-son struggle. And I think that Bush 41 must be very conflicted right now. This has got to be a bittersweet moment for him, because he really has tried to help his son and gently advise him. And it just seems as though the president has not wanted to take his father's advice. And this has gotten more and more difficult over the last few years. I know that the Rumsfeld situation has been a problem for six years because senior Bush did not like Rumsfeld and didn't think he should be the Secretary of Defense. And, in fact, right before 9/11, I think that Bush 43 had decided to get rid of Rumsfeld. And then 9/11 happened and the rest is history. But I think that once Bush, the president, lost the House and the Senate, I think he realized that he couldn't do without his father's help, particularly-"

O’Brien: "Well, let, me ask you this. Let me ask you this, do you think that over the course of the Bush presidency there's been more of a dialogue between father and son than has met the eye?"

Quinn: "I don't think -- I, I think that they talk a lot on the phone, but, I mean, at one point Bush said -- somebody said, ‘Well, what do you tell him about the war in Iraq?’ He said, "I tell him I love him. And I know that they talk a lot on the telephone-"

O’Brien: "It's a nice sentiment, but it's not very good advice for the war in Iraq, is it?"

Quinn: "Right. Right."

O’Brien: "Yes."

Quinn: "But I just have a feeling that it was clear to the father that the son -- clearly, he made Rumsfeld Secretary of Defense -- that the son did not want his father's advice on a lot of these things, and certainly didn't listen to his father's advisers. I mean, Brent Scowcroft and Jim Baker were there in the wings, and Scowcroft was even vociferous about how he felt about the war in Iraq. And it was kind of this whole attitude of 'my way or the highway,' and, you know, I felt the other day watching Bush that he was almost relieved in a way about losing the House and the Senate. I know that sounds weird, but it was as though, ‘Okay, now I really have permission. I can take my father's advice.’ And also, that it's not all on him anymore. It's not all on the Republicans. The Democrats are going to have to take a lot of the responsibility now."

O’Brien: "It's nice to, nice to share a little blame, isn't it, in some cases? And in this case, perhaps share some blame with his father. I wonder why it took him so long to reach out this way. Did -- was -- did he have to have that election in order to prompt this?"

Quinn: "I think so. I think if the Democrats had not won the House and the Senate, that Rumsfeld would probably stay on, even though the Republicans were against Rumsfeld and wanted him out, because they've got 2008 to look forward to. And they see that the war becomes a bigger problem all the time. I think the big loser here is Cheney, because Rumsfeld has been the face of the war for the last six years. And now with him gone and refusing to be the scapegoat, who, who are they going to look to? They're going to look to Cheney, because it's Cheney's war, too."

O’Brien: "Only one scapegoat left, I guess, in some respects."

Quinn: "Yes."

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org