Matthew Dowd, photo from PBS. 

Personal responsibility?  Not much.  Cry me a bloody (Tigris) river (emphasis added):

AUSTIN, Tex., March 29 — In 1999, Matthew Dowd became a symbol of George W. Bush’s early success at positioning himself as a Republican with Democratic appeal.

A top strategist for the Texas Democrats who was disappointed by the Bill Clinton years, Mr. Dowd was impressed by the pledge of Mr. Bush, then governor of Texas, to bring a spirit of cooperation to Washington. He switched parties, joined Mr. Bush’s political brain trust and dedicated the next six years to getting him to the Oval Office and keeping him there. In 2004, he was appointed the president’s chief campaign strategist.

Looking back, Mr. Dowd now says his faith in Mr. Bush was misplaced.


He criticized the president as failing to call the nation to a shared sense of sacrifice at a time of war, failing to reach across the political divide to build consensus and ignoring the will of the people on Iraq. He said he believed the president had not moved aggressively enough to hold anyone accountable for the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and that Mr. Bush still approached governing with a “my way or the highway” mentality reinforced by a shrinking circle of trusted aides.


He said his decision to step forward had not come easily. But, he said, his disappointment in Mr. Bush’s presidency is so great that he feels a sense of duty to go public given his role in helping Mr. Bush gain and keep power.

Mr. Dowd, a crucial part of a team that cast Senator John Kerry as a flip-flopper who could not be trusted with national security during wartime, said he had even written but never submitted an op-ed article titled “Kerry Was Right,” arguing that Mr. Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat and 2004 presidential candidate, was correct in calling last year for a withdrawal from Iraq.

“I’m a big believer that in part what we’re called to do — to me, by God; other people call it karma — is to restore balance when things didn’t turn out the way they should have,” Mr. Dowd said. “Just being quiet is not an option when I was so publicly advocating an election.”


Mr. Dowd, 45, said he hoped in part that by coming forward he would be able to get a message through to a presidential inner sanctum that he views as increasingly isolated. But, he said, he holds out no great hope. He acknowledges that he has not had a conversation with the president.


Mr. Dowd does not seem prepared to put his views to work in 2008. The only candidate who appeals to him, he said, is Senator Barack Obama, Democrat of Illinois, because of what Mr. Dowd called his message of unity. But, he said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if I wasn’t walking around in Africa or South America doing something that was like mission work.”

He added, “I do feel a calling of trying to re-establish a level of gentleness in the world.”

Not so fast.  You can't say you want to "restore balance" and say you want all politcal conflict to go away while you go on walkabout for some quality time with your mid-life existential crisis.  Your psychodramas helped to shit the bed, now get over yourself and join the fight – yes, the fight – to undo what you've done.  Gentleness, my ass.  Grow up and take some responsibility, and stop pretending nice rhetoric and kumbayah will make anything right again.  It won't. (Cliff Schecter agrees.)

The people you joined up with have had the very agenda you abetted since at least the days of Nixon, and unless we rid our public life of them, they'll be back again.  You were an insider.  Start talking about what you know.  Grab your knife and start the stabbing.  That's how you can restore some balance, wanker.  And if this is any evidence of your newfound moral compass, I'd say it's not quite pointing true north, now, is it ? (H/T to Julia from Sisyphus Shrugged, via email.  She has even more here.  Oh, and you didn't think digby could leave this alone, did you?)

All these people know how to do is evade responsibility.  Next exhibit, Barbara Comstock protege, Monica Goodling (emphasis added): 

After graduating in 1999, Goodling landed a job at the D.C. headquarters of the Republican National Committee just as the 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign was ramping up. Goodling’s position put her inside the newly created war room for political opposition research. There, she worked alongside a crew of party faithful who would later shepherd her through the ranks at Justice.

Among Goodling’s close associates were Barbara Comstock, head of opposition research for the RNC and later the chief spokeswoman for Ashcroft; Griffin, Comstock’s deputy, whom Goodling would later help to win the interim appointment to replace one of the eight ousted U.S. attorneys in Arkansas; and Mark Corallo, who in 2003 took the helm of the Justice Department’s Public Affairs Office after Comstock.

Goodling quickly won Comstock’s trust for her hard work and talent for digging up information on tort litigation and judicial nominations. And when Griffin left in 2001, Goodling became Comstock’s deputy. They helped prepare Ashcroft and Theodore Olson for their confirmation hearings to be attorney general and solicitor general, respectively.

When Comstock became Ashcroft’s spokeswoman in 2002, she brought Goodling along as her deputy. Goodling stayed for three years. In no time, Goodling became “indispensable” to the office, says Corallo, who became Ashcroft’s spokesman in 2003. “I have never known anybody that works harder or does better work than her.” 

Of course, regular readers of FDL will recognize Comstock as the propaganda flack for all things Scooter Libby.  We kept hearing that plaintive whine justifying Goodling's 5th Amendment plea (before even being called to testify before Congress), "Look what happened to Scooter Libby!"  Anyone want to hazard a guess where that line came from, or who among Goodling's past mentors may have advised her to take the 5th rather than face questions under oath about possible crimes committed? 

Eyes on your own paper, please!  Hey Hiatt, you paying attention?!

Goodling has taken one route to evade (for the time being) responsibility, but Dowd has taken another route, a more sophisticated one.

On the right wing, Mr. Dowd, all you have to do is kiss Jesus' James Dobson's ass in Macy's window and all is forgiven, like it never happened.  "All that's left," Dobson says, "is our friendship." 

On the left, we actually demand and expect longstanding community reparation, along with a full acceptance of responsibility.  If John Dean or David Brock can do it, you can, too.

But you can't do it cruising the beaches of Granger Bay with a pina colada in one hand, a bible in the other and a pocketful of divorcee's condoms stashed in a sandy blanket with your Internet viagra and Amway sunblock.  



Pachacutec did not, as is commonly believed, die in 1471. To escape the tragic sight of his successors screwing up the Inca Empire he’d built, he fled east into the Amazon rain forest, where he began chewing lots of funky roots to get higher than Hunter Thompson ever dared. Oddly, these roots gave him not only a killer buzz, but also prolonged his life beyond what any other mortal has known, excluding Novakula. Whatever his doubts of the utility of living long enough to see old friends pop up in museums as mummies, or witness the bizarrely compelling spectacle of Katherine Harris, he’s learned a thing or two along the way. For one thing, he’s learned the importance of not letting morons run a country, having watched the Inca Empire suffer many civil wars requiring the eventual ruler to gain support from the priests and the national military. He now works during fleeting sober moments to build a vibrant progressive movement sufficiently strong and sustainable to drive a pointed stake through the heart of American “conservatism” forever. He enjoys a gay marriage, classic jazz and roots for the New York Mets.