What Presidents Say In Private: Bush and Obama Unplugged

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ABC’s Terry Moran looks kinda like a, um, donkey this morning, after reporting via Twitter that President Obama had called Kanye West a “jackass” yesterday, after West disrupted the MTV music awards in a typical fit of self-absorption. Obama’s “jackass” utterance came during an off the record exchange with CNBC. ABC News has apologized for Moran’s breach of protocol, announcing steps “to ensure that it will not happen again.” (Will Moran lose his Twitter? Doubtful. He does it so much.)

Meanwhile, Bush aides are reportedly in white knuckle suspense over the revelations to come in an upcoming book, Speech Less, by former George W. Bush speechwriter Matt Latimer. Among the revelations, according to early leaks:

Bush says of Obama:

“He came in one day to rehearse a speech, fuming,” Latimer writes. “‘This is a dangerous world,’” he said for no apparent reason, “and this cat [Obama] isn’t remotely qualified to handle it. This guy has no clue, I promise you.”

Bush says of Biden:

“If bull—- was currency,” he said, “Joe Biden would be a billionaire.”

Bush says of Sarah Palin:

“I’m trying to remember if I’ve met her before. What is she, the governor of Guam?”

Bush says of Hillary Clinton:

“Wait till her fat keister is sitting at this desk.”

Wam. Bang. Kaboom. The New York Daily News has more.

Hours before the president was to speak to the country, Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign informed Josh Bolten that McCain was going to phone the president and urge him to call off the address and instead hold an emergency economic summit in Washington. If the president did speak that night, the McCain campaign didn’t want him to outline any specific proposal.Of course, this threw the proverbial monkey wrench into our plans—and at the eleventh hour. I overheard the president call McCain’s plan “a stunt.” Dana Perino said the negotiations were nearly over, and suddenly he was going to swoop in and muck things up? The president’s political adviser, Barry Jackson, was blunt, calling McCain a “stupid prick.” . . . .
Bush seemed to feel considerable unease with the choice of McCain as well. I think he liked Romney best. (The rumor was that so did Karl Rove.) My guess was the president hadn’t so easily forgotten the endless slights he’d suffered, but there was little he could do. To him, McCain’s defeat would be a repudiation of the Bush administration, so McCain had to win. The president, who had quite a good political mind, was clearly not impressed with the McCain operation. I was once in the Oval Office when the president was told a campaign event in Phoenix he was to attend with McCain suddenly had to be closed to the press. The president didn’t understand why when the whole purpose of holding the event had been to show Bush and McCain together so the press would stop asking why the two wouldn’t be seen together. If the event was closed to the press, the whole thing didn’t make sense.

“If he doesn’t want me to go, fine,” the president said. “I’ve got better things to do.”

Eventually, someone informed the president that the reason the event was closed was that McCain was having trouble getting a crowd. Bush was incredulous—and to the point. “He can’t get 500 people to show up for an event in his hometown?” he asked. No one said anything, and we went on to another topic. But the president couldn’t let the matter drop. “He couldn’t get 500 people? I could get that many people to turn out in Crawford.” He shook his head. “This is a five-spiral crash, boys.”

We tried to move on to something else. But the president wouldn’t let go. He was stuck on the Phoenix event. At one point, he looked off into space and said to no one in particular, “What is this—a cruel hoax?”

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