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Sludge Report #139 – A Shrill And Partisan Voice

In this edition: Never has there been such a case of the pot calls the kettle black. A simple question. Whom is shriller, White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer, or Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle?

NOTE: Authors of this report will be anonymous and wide ranging, and occasionally finely balanced. Indeed you are invited to contribute: The format is as a reporters notebook. It will be published as and when material is available. C.D. Sludge can be contacted at The Sludge Report is available as a free email service..Click HERE - to subscribe...

Sludge Report #139

A Shrill And Partisan Voice Speaks Out

"There may be a few lonely voices out there who are partisan, who are shrill. But most people in Congress want to get something done, and that's who the President is going to work with on this." - Ari Fleischer Briefing July 10th - Harken & Haliburton

Never has there been such a clear case of the pot calling the kettle black.

Whom is shriller, White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer, or Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle?

For the benefit of those who cannot remember seeing either man, Tom Daschle is a rather dashing 50 something white guy who speaks in a similar sort of tone to Kofi Annan. Ari Fleischer is balding, obnoxious, 30-something who sounds like a snake. Don’t take my word for it have a look and listen.

Never in Sludge’s view has there been a more clear case of political hypocrisy.

On Tuesday George Bush says the US needs two day disclosures of insider trading transactions in company shares by company directors.

George Bush reported his own insider trade (which netted him a neat USD$848,000) 9 months late!

George Bush says company directors and executives should not receive loans from companies to buy shares.

George Bush borrowed money off Harken more than once to buy shares.

But says George Bush's spokesman Ari Fleischer, none of this matters.

People on the hill should all work together , he says, and get things done. Confronting corporate fraud, or “malfeanace” to use George’s new word, is a big job and finger pointing gets in the way, says Ari.

Meanwhile the president, according to Ari, is not at all worried that he might not have the moral authority to implement his plan. Indeed suggesting so is just shrill and partisan.

Which, if you think about it, is an odd observation coming from a President who has made such a big deal of pronouncements over who is good and who is evil , and of smoking said evildoers out of holes.

More shrill and partisan questions for Ari are begged, if not shouted, for in the circumstances.

Does the President think stealing money from shareholders, or fellow share traders who don't have the inside oil, is evil?

Does the President think stealing retirement savings from employees and their families is evil?

Does he think people who engage in questionable transactions which have such an effect ought to be smoked out of their holes?

Or are these just more “accounting issues” which, as George said on Tuesday, are simply not always “black and white”?

As George W. is the king of hypocrisy, I think we can assume what the answer would be. "Light up the burner. Pass the matches. But Just don’t ask me any shrill or partisan questions about my own life."

Later during his July 10th soiree with the media spin meister Ari Fleischer is asked whether he can clarify whether the Lawyer or the company lost George’s Harken homework, and alternatively whether the President has now remembered (or found out) why he didn’t file is insider trading declarations on time.

A good question given that the President said on Tuesday he didn’t actually know why he broke the law. And would look to find out. And made even more pressing since the SEC was clearly convinced by whatever explanation he had back in 1991.

For Ari this is another of those pesky shrill and partisan barbs.

He brushes it away saying the President had already explained everything on Monday, before moving to a middle eastern journalist whom he knows will be asking him about the war.

Then a deep, and reasonable sounding voice chimes in.


Q On Harken Energy, you said earlier that the President has, I believe, gone to private accountants and lawyers to try to get some answers?

MR. FLEISCHER: I said the staff, in an attempt to answer a reporter's questions --

Q The staff has. And obviously, he didn't get all the answers he wanted because he said he still doesn't know why some of these forms were filed late. Are they continuing to work on that? Is the President dissatisfied, and he said, go back there and ferret this out and let's give these people answers?

MR. FLEISCHER: John, I think we've given you every explanation -- the explanation possible.

Q I'm just saying, is he still trying to ferret out those answers? I understand you say he's told us what he knows.

MR. FLEISCHER: I think when you have a case where there's a mixup with attorneys, it remains a mixup with the attorneys.

MR. FLEISCHER: Thankyou. (Exits stage right - quickly)“

Aha, well that’s clear then, Ari. Now we know. It was the lawyer that lost George’s homework. Thanks Ari. That will be the end of all those shrill and partisan questions then For sure.

Anti©opyright Sludge 2002

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