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February 24, 2005
Wead Slinks Off-Stage

Doug Wead, who surreptitiously taped phone conversations with George W. Bush over a period of two years and began selectively releasing them this week, has had a sudden change of heart after receiving overwhelming, and justified, criticism. Wead now says he'll give the tapes to the White House and has begun cancelling media appearances, according to the New York Times:

"My thanks to those who have let me share my heart and regrets about recent events," Mr. Wead wrote in the statement, posted on his Web site Wednesday. "Contrary to a statement that I made to The New York Times, I know very well that personal relationships are more important than history."

Mr. Wead, an author who drew on the tapes obliquely for one page in his recently published book, "The Raising of a President: The Mothers and Fathers of Our Nation's Leaders," said, "I am asking my attorney to direct any future proceeds from the book to charity and to find the best way to vet these tapes and get them back to the president to whom they belong."

Some had noted that the tapes revealed by Wead to two Times reporters revealed little that damaged Bush, and indeed may have affirmed his sincerity as a politician and a Christian. A few thought that the entire exercise may have been engineered to send a warning to the Bushes, however, that Wead had more salacious information that he was withholding. The Times notes towards the end of the article that in the excerpts they heard, Wead pressed Bush for a place on his campaign staff but was repeatedly rebuffed. However one wishes to spin Wead's actions, though, one fact comes through very clearly: just the act of recording these conversations surreptitiously demonstrates a perverted sense of ethics and certainly shows that Wead, despite his protestations above, values his own pocketbook more than personal relationships.

This is best demonstrated by his interview with the Times regarding the withdrawal of the tapes, in which he expresses his exasperation that people just don't believe him:

In a telephone interview Wednesday, Mr. Wead, sounding noticeably fatigued, said he decided to change course because of "the perception that I have tried to exploit the tapes and make money off of it and hurt the president and had all kinds of agendas."

"This seems like the best thing to show that isn't the case," he said.

"Nobody believes my story that I saw him as a figure of history," Mr. Wead said with exasperation. "I guess I have got a story that is unbelievable to people."

He guesses? Gee, I wonder why no one believes poor Doug Wead? It's not like he has a track record of pretending to be someone's friend just so he can parasitically make money off of him later...

Wead cancelled a planned appearance on Hardball for tonight, writing Chris Matthews that he had become a distraction to Bush and wished to stop drawing attention to himself. Matthews, as usual, gets it completely wrong:

"This is a live debate among people who have served high-level people like presidents at close range, whether your duty is to your personal relationship or to history," Mr. Matthews said. "It is a question of loyalty versus truth."

In the first place, Wead did not "serve" Bush; he posed as a friend to get access to Bush, which is completely different. Second, Wead did not express any desire to write Bush's biography or memoirs, nor did he establish his relationship with Bush on any kind of journalistic principle. Bush befriended him based on familiarity with his father's administration and their shared interest in Christianity. Third and most importantly, Wead didn't serve truth by wiretapping Bush in the two years prior to his election as President. Wead served his own interests and his own pocketbook.

While Wead may have mitigated the outcome somewhat by turning over the tapes to Bush, it doesn't change the fact that taping their conversations in the first place reveals Wead to have a low character, and his continued rationalizations confirm that he's a lot sorrier that we don't appreciate his genius than a realization he did something wrong.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 24, 2005 6:36 AM

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