Friday, September 23, 2005

Profile in courage: Douchebag of liberty edition

Robert Novak, speaking truth to power!

The Forstmann Little Aspen Weekend is made possible by the generosity of Theodore J. Forstmann, a doughty supporter of supply-side economics and longtime contributor to the Republican Party. Invited guests are drawn from government, diplomacy, politics, the arts, entertainment and journalism.

I was surprised that the program indicated the first panel, on stem cell research, consisted solely of scientists hostile to the Bush administration's position. In the absence of any disagreement, I took the floor to suggest there are scientists and bioethicists with dissenting views and that it was not productive to demean opposing views as based on "religious dogma." The response was peeved criticism of my intervention and certainly no support.

I do not see myself as a defender of the Bush presidency,and I am sure the White House does not regard me as such. But as a member of the second panel consisting of journalists, I felt constrained to argue against implications that Hurricane Katrina should cause the president to rediscover race and poverty. My comments again generated more criticism from the audience and obvious exasperation by Charlie Rose. Indeed, after the closing dinner Saturday night, the moderator made clear he was displeased by my conduct.

After the first two panels, I feared I was the odd man out in accepting Teddy Forstmann's invitation. But during a break, one of the president's closest friends -- who had remained silent -- thanked me profusely for my comments. That set a pattern. Throughout the next two days, men and women who were mute publicly thanked me privately for speaking up. When I said nothing during one panel discussion, some people asked me why I was silent. [emphasis, yeah]

Ah, the Silent Minority. Indeed. But I'm a little confused, was the conference an orgy of Bush hatred among the moneyed interests, or were the rich and powerful simply cowed into submission by the power of Charlie Rose's death ray eyes?

It is good to know, however, that Bob is not a defender of the Bush presidency nor seen as such.


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