Invidious Comparison at 'Today': Bush 41 'Diplomat' vs. Bush 43 'Cowboy'

August 25th, 2006 8:00 AM

Remember George H.W. Bush? The one who was derided by the MSM for his lack of toughness? The man Newsweek put on its cover with the sneering headline "Fighting the Wimp Factor"?

Scratch all that. As per this morning's “Today” show, it turns out H.W. wasn't a wimp at all. Not only was he a 'diplomat', above all he was someone who knew how to successfully fight a war in Iraq.

What caused “Today” to catch a bad case of SORS: Sudden-Onset Revisionism Syndrome? It's that old truism at work: the MSM is willing to praise a Republican who is out of power . . . for purposes of bashing one still in office.

”Today” used the occasion of W's visit to his father's home in Kennebunkport this weekend to raise the question "Like Father Not Like Son?" Narrating the segment, NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell set the tone with this opening shot: "both went to war but with very different results." And you know what she's talking about!

Mitchell then played a clip of former senator and Bush 41 loyalist Alan Simpson, who has spent his recent years at Harvard's Kennedy School. Simpson opined that Bush the Elder "was a diplomat, ready to talk to anyone." Simpson sniffed that in contrast, W has "never been engaged in the process of professional diplomacy."

Mitchell then cited unidentified "friends" who say "the father built coalitions, negotiated with his enemies, the son, more striver and Texas cowboy, likes to go it alone."

Next, who better to offer a personality portrait of W than that noted non-partisan psychoanalyst, Maureen Dowd of the New York Times: "W is determined to be all-Texas, to be really tough and that led him into this really tough foreign policy where everything is black and white."

Mitchell seemed to suggest that vengeance played a role in W's decision to invade Iraq, playing a clip of the president saying of Saddam "this is a guy that tried to kill my dad."

Mitchell then implied that - if only HW could speak out - he would oppose the Iraq war. She said that "at least publicly the father won't criticize the son's Iraq policy but he's known to agonize over it."

”Today” left little doubt that it prefers Old School Bush to the Bush the Latter. It was a tough morning for W. But he can take solace in knowing that in times to come the MSM will surely cast him too in a glowing light - for purposes of bashing a future Republican occupant of the White House.

Update 8/26: Now we know why Dowd was invited onto the show - she was working on her own column - Junior Needs a Spanking - that sounds the same themes as the Today segment. 

Finkelstein lives in the liberal haven of Ithaca, NY, where he hosts 'Right Angle,' an award-winning public-access TV show. Contact him at