I've been reading books on gnosticism so these commentaries by a former Bush speechwriter named Matt Latimer struck me as more than wise-guy talk. One observation from his WaPo piece:
The crumbling of the conservative movement, though, is not merely a story of past events to be dissected. Thousands marched in Washington last weekend to protest the Obama administration's expansion of the role of the federal government. This is an important debate. But the message on such serious issues is undercut when conservatives are lumped together with those bashing Obama as a secret Muslim and questioning his citizenship. Indeed, one of the organizers of the "birther" movement is a former personnel vetter at the Pentagon.
He also has this book excerpt, which seems naive in some respects but telling in others. You decide.
The last Administration did not treat speechwriting with the seriousness it deserves, as this current Administration thinks that speech is all (a gnostic heresy). Just try reading former head speechwriter Michael Gerson's columns in the WaPo, and you'll get the picture. But such bigotry of low expectations starts from the top. Whether they were Bush's rhetorical shortcomings or Cheney's impolitic manner, both undermined the Administration's ability to lead and thus its obligation to govern by consent. Both men have many virtues, but it is wrong to overlook the weaknesses that paved the way for the incumbent.
UPDATE: See Ross Douthat's NYT column for another take on Latimer and, more important, Bush's presidency; some obvious points on Bush as master of his own disasters but worth keeping in mind.
UPDATE #2: Latimer's former boss, WSJ columnist Bill McGurn, strikes back.