For some of the Bush administration’s most energetic spinners, it looks like it’s finally safe to get back into the water.
OK, in truth, some of them never really got out. But we can’t help noticing that in the last few weeks, several prominent spokespeople for the last administration have been back in the media spotlight, triggering memories of those halcyon early years of the century.
Call it the return of the Bush flacks. Let’s run down the list:
• Ari Fleischer: Bush’s first and most aggressive White House press secretary (Americans “need to watch what they say, watch what they do,”) made headlines yesterday after reportedly huddling with Tiger Woods to help plot the golfer’s return to the PGA Tour in the wake of his bed-hopping-induced absence. Fleischer, who runs a crisis response PR firm focusing on sports, has worked in the past with Mark McGwire and college football’s BCS.
• Dan Senor: The former spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq is said to be seriously mulling a run for the U.S. Senate from New York. The husband of CNN’s Campbell Brown, who also did a brief stint as a deputy spokesman for the Bush White House, recently teamed up with Bill Kristol to found the Foreign Policy Initiative, a neoconservative advocacy group.
• Dan Bartlett: Bush’s top communications aide now runs Public Strategies, a Texas PR firm which recently signed on with Goldman Sachs to try to buff the Wall Street behemoth’s tarnished image. Bartlett was a key architect of the controversial strategy of embedding reporters with military units in Iraq.
• Dana Perino: Bush’s last White House press secretary, a frequent Fox News pundit, is considering writing a book. She told a recent interviewer it will draw on her experience to help people “be gracious and dignified in sometimes undignified settings.” And she added that she has some souvenirs to help recall the glory days. “[I]f I went to a state dinner and there was a menu, sometimes I wrote on the back, ‘Great dinner, love the entertainment, the Jersey Boys sang.’ I have things like that to spark my memory.”
• Gretchen Hamel: She’s not a household name, but the former top communications official for Bush’s trade policy recently launched a new advocacy group designed raise the alarm about “over-spending” — and slam the Obama administration. She declined to tell us who’s funding the group.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with these former Bushies looking to continue their careers. But given the low esteem in which the administration they served is still held, it’s notable how seamlessly many of them seem to be moving on their next act.