Ex-Bush Loyalists: Where Are They Now?
This article originally appeared on TomDispatch.
In May, the US economy lost 345,000 nonfarm jobs, pushing the unemployment rate from 8.9 percent to 9.4 percent. According to official statistics, 14.5 million Americans are now looking for work and, as a recent headline at Time.com put it, "The jobs aren't coming back anytime soon." In fact, a team of economists at the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank recently reported that "the level of labor market slack could be higher by the end of 2009 than at any other time in the post-World War II period."
The news, however, is not altogether grim. While times are especially tough for teenagers (22.7 percent jobless rate) and blacks (14.9 percent jobless rate), one group is doing remarkably well. I'm talking about former members of the Bush administration, who are taking up prestigious academic posts, inking lucrative book deals, signing up with speakers bureaus, joining big-time law firms and top public relations agencies and grabbing spots on corporate boards of directors. While their high-priced wars, ruinous economic policies and shredding of economic safety nets have proved disastrous for so many, for them the economic outlook remains bright and jobs are seemingly plentiful. In fact, many of them have performed the eye-opening feat of securing two or more potentially lucrative revenue streams at once during these tough financial times.
While it would likely take a small book to catalogue the fates of all former "loyal Bushies," a look at just a few of these fortunate folks indicates that not everybody was harmed by the Bush era.
Many of the top figures of the Bush years are joining the ranks of (or reaffirming their credentials as) men and women of letters. Following in the footsteps of 2003-2006 White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, who wrote the tell-some exposé What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception, is former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (2001-2006). Now penning his life story for Sentinel, a conservative imprint of the Penguin Group, he has announced that he is forgoing an advance and donating all proceeds to charity. Similarly, 2006-2009 Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is reportedly donating the "author's profits" from his forthcoming "insider's account of [his] experiences as Treasury Secretary." Many other former colleagues are, however, apparently intent on cashing in on their public service.
Last month, the New York Times reported that Rumsfeld's long-time pal, former Vice President Dick Cheney, "is actively shopping a memoir about his life in politics and service in four presidential administrations" and seeking multi-millions. In the same way, back in 2007, Bush's right-hand man Karl Rove, a k a his "brain," agreed, for a reported seven figures, to write a memoir for Simon & Schuster's conservative imprint Threshold. Earlier this year, Bush's first-term national security advisor and second-term secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, signed a gaudy three-book deal, reportedly worth at least $2.5 million, with Random House's Crown imprint.
Following her to Crown (also the publisher of Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope) was former President Bush himself. His book, tentatively titled Decision Points, will reportedly recount "a dozen of the most interesting and important decisions in the former President's personal and political life" for a cool $7 million. Former first lady Laura Bush has already inked a book deal with Scribner reportedly worth $3.5-5 million.
Only one prominent Bush loyalist who cared to try appears to have been unable to cash-in. In late 2008, the Wall Street Journal's Evan Perez reported that Alberto Gonzales, former White House counsel (2001-2005) and attorney general (2005-2007), "said he is writing a book to set the record straight about his controversial tenure as a senior official in the Bush administration," but could interest no publisher in the manuscript. This followed an earlier report in the New York Times that Gonzales had been "unable to interest law firms in adding his name to their roster."