Though there have been many nice tributes recounting the life and legacy of George H.W. Bush, there’s also been the typically nasty moments one might expect from journalists in the liberal media. On Saturday night, during a two hour-long edition of Hardball, former Newsweek editor Jonathan Alter attacked then-Vice President Bush for going along with Ronald Reagan’s “discredited by history” tax cut policy.
Alter blamed the early rival of Reagan for not standing up: “Part of it was his own making because what he called voodoo economics, he then under Reagan bought into this kind of discredited idea now, discredited by history.”
Assailing the “mythology” of tax cuts, the journalist hit Bush as not tough enough:
This was this mythology and there was a tax cutting fever that took over the Republican Party and he got caught in the cross currents and wasn't strong enough politically to resist it, starting when he was Vice President. He should have stood up more strongly. I think that really hurt him.
Perhaps Alter was channeling his former magazine, which mocked the World War II fighter pilot as a “wimp” in 1987. Journalist Greta Van Susteren called Newsweek out on this in the wake of Bush’s death.
Evan Thomas of Newsweek now regrets this smear on a decorated war hero. Politico explained:
Evan Thomas regrets Newsweek’s 1987 “Fighting The Wimp Factor” cover. “The article did not quite come out and declare that Bush was a weakling, and it noted that Bush’s own advisers were worried about the ‘wimp’ label,” Thomas writes for Yahoo News. “But the clear implication of the cover story (which I edited, penciling in the word ‘wimp’ over the objection of the story’s reporter, Margaret Warner) was that Bush somehow lacked the inner fortitude to lead the Free World. How wrong we were.”
On Sunday, Andrea Mitchell hailed President Bush for breaking his “no new taxes” pledge.
A partial transcript is below. Click “expand” to read more:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Let’s go to Jonathan Alter right now. Jonathan, this is so interesting because it's a long time and time salves many wounds.
JONATHAN ALTER: Yes.
MATTHEWS: But that was a serious wound with him and the right wing.
JONATHAN ALTER: Absolutely. You can argue that cost him reelection. You have to have a united party behind you in order to get re-elected. And, you know, Pat Buchanan is going after him, doing pretty well.
ALTER: In New Hampshire.
MATTHEWS: 37 percent.
ALTER: He's getting hit by Newt Gingrich. So he got hammered. Part of it was his own making because what he called voodoo economics, he then under Reagan bought into this kind of discredited idea now, discredited by history, that you can cut taxes, raise defense spending and still balance the budget. This was this mythology and there was a tax cutting fever that took over the Republican Party and he got caught in the cross currents and wasn't strong enough politically to resist it, starting when he was Vice President. He should have stood up more strongly, I think that really hurt him. His domestic record just wasn't good enough for a country that was in some economic trouble, and he didn't seem like he had a vision of the future.