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Ari Fleischer Puts the BS in the BCS

November 25, 2009

It's a crisis so serious that Republican Congressman from Utah and Texas have held hearings and called for investigations. Not into the Bush's administration's manipulation of Iraq intelligence, its detainee torture, the denial of global warming or the Katrina disaster. No, the outrage is the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) by which Division I college football annually determines its champion. And in an altogether fitting turn of events, the BCS has selected Ari Fleischer, the same Bush press secretary who faithfully dissembled for his boss on almost every issue, as its new PR spinmeister.
As the legions of fans disgruntled with the BCS ranking system and the frequent exclusion of teams from smaller conferences are already learning, Fleischer is bringing the same smug, dismissive tone to his new job:

"Playoff advocates have had an easy ride where they have never been called on to explain exactly how they would create an alternative. There is tremendous division among playoff advocates. While the BCS has its share of critics, once people see both sides of the issue, they will see why the system has its great support."

If the BCS was looking for a man whose public statements consistently fly in the face of majority opinion, common decency and the truth, they've found their man in Ari Fleischer.
Consider his work on national energy policy. As Dick Cheney's secret energy task force prepared to do its dirty work, then press secretary Ari Fleischer made clear that energy conservation would not be part of President Bush's agenda. The demands of climate change and national security, Fleischer insisted on May 7, 2001, would not result in demands on the American people:

Q: Is one of the problems with this, and the entire energy field, American lifestyles? Does the President believe that, given the amount of energy Americans consume per capita, how much it exceeds any other citizen in any other country in the world, does the President believe we need to correct our lifestyles to address the energy problem?
MR. FLEISCHER: That's a big no. The President believes that it's an American way of life, and that it should be the goal of policy makers to protect the American way of life. The American way of life is a blessed one. And we have a bounty of resources in this country. What we need to do is make certain that we're able to get those resources in an efficient way, in a way that also emphasizes protecting the environment and conservation, into the hands of consumers so they can make the choices that they want to make as they live their lives day to day.

And to be sure, Fleischer can be counted to insist that no dissent from advocates of an NCAA football playoff system will be tolerated. After comedian Bill Maher was fired by ABC for commenting in the wake of the 9/11 attacks that the terrorists who slammed planes into buildings were "not cowardly," Fleischer strongly endorsed Maher's silencing:

"There are reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do. This is not a time for remarks like that. There never is."

During an April 30, 2001 press conference, Fleischer announced that "The President continues to believe the don't-ask-don't-tell policy is the best policy." As it turned out, that policy extended to Fleischer's audience in the White House press corps. Ari Fleischer certainly wasn't going to tell anyone that he brought male escort turned right-wing stenographer Jeff Gannon into the White House press room. And no one asked about it until the Fleischer was long gone and the hapless Scott McClellan ensconced in his place.
If college football needed someone to rewrite history, then by all means Fleischer belongs in its lineup.
Even six years after the invasion of Iraq, Fleischer continues to peddle the long ago debunked Republican myth of a link between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 Al Qaeda attacks in the U.S. As he told MSNBC's Chris Matthews this March:

"After September 11th having been hit once how could we take a chance that Saddam might strike again? And that's the threat that has been removed and I think we are all safer with that threat removed."

As became clear during the outing of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, Fleischer was only too happy to do the Bush administration's bidding not only in defending the President's bogus 16 words on uranium in Niger but in leading the campaign of retribution against Valerie and Joe Wilson. It wasn't until the trial of Cheney chief of staff Scooter Libby that Fleischer revealed that Libby had lied when he claimed he had only learned about Plame from reporters.
And it was during the Libby trial that Fleischer finally acknowledged that he was a willing lackey for the Bush administration and its disinformation campaign. As the New York Times recounted in January 2007:

In fact, as Mr. Fleischer disclosed in court testimony on Monday, he only knew what the truly powerful chose to tell him, and sometimes that was not much. On occasion he would pronounce with great authority the administration's position on a topic only to find it had changed and nobody had bothered to let him know.
In July 2003, for example, after Mr. Fleischer had spent months defending a 16-word sentence in the president's State of the Union address asserting that Iraq had sought uranium for nuclear weapons in Africa, he was directed not to repeat his assurances that the information was correct. But his bosses had not yet decided on their revised view.
"The worst place to stand as press secretary is where the ground is shifting," Mr. Fleischer told the jury in the perjury trial of I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff. "You can't say yes, and you can't say no."
When pressed by reporters on the issue, he said, "I basically punted."

So when it came to telling the truth, Fleischer punted. What better qualification could the BCS ask for?

4 comments on “Ari Fleischer Puts the BS in the BCS”

  1. The GOP's collective memory is just fine. They simply lie. A lot. I mean, otherwise, how could they idolize that incompetent, Rhonnie Rheagan? These are immoral people, they will say and do anything to advance their sick ideology of fear.
    Anyone interested in learning more about Cheney really might want to read Jane Mayer's book, "The Dark Side," which covers lots of strange "logic" of Cheney and his so-called "Warr on Terror."

  2. Anyone interested in learning more about Cheney really might want to read Jane Mayer's book, "The Dark Side," which covers lots of strange "logic" of Cheney and his so-called "Warr on Terror."


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Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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