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kskiska Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 10:41 PM
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NYT: Ron Suskind review of Karen Hughes' book
'Ten Minutes From Normal': Walking Into the Propeller


Readers who hope this book will offer a few revealing glimpses of the man driving global affairs will be disappointed. At times, they may feel as though they've been handed a campaign brochure between hard covers. He is both humble and ''in charge,'' ''decent'' and ''engaging,'' a man of ''strength and grace in adversity,'' who possesses ''a laserlike ability to reduce an issue to its core.'' From the thousands of hours they've spent together, Hughes -- as always -- has selected a bare, few morsels for ''appropriate'' public consumption. They tend to be smallish, layered anecdotes -- as when Bush didn't want her to answer a pile of press calls in their first days in the 1994 race because, he says, ''we have to have a focused message . . . answering all those questions will get us off track.'' That, ostensibly, was the starting point of the so-called message control. Hughes later describes how she independently came up with the term ''compassionate conservative'' after hearing Bush talk passionately about being a conservative with a heart. In Hughes's rendering, he is a man without flaws.


Instead, much of her story swirls around the tensions of family and work, something countless working women wrestle with each day, but without Hughes's advantages. Still, some of the book's best-written passages are in this realm, especially those that involve Robert, Hughes's precocious and insightful teenage son, whose journal entries during the 2000 campaign, when he traveled with his mother, are amply excerpted. Oddly, some of the book's clearest, least self-interested insights come from Robert, who pokes holes in a few of his mother's pretentious utterances and expresses mixed feelings that a Bush victory will mean he'll have to leave junior high school in Austin. Later, when Hughes is working long hours in the White House, he says he and his father are lonely and miserable in their rented house in Washington -- and ''it's all because of you.'' This drama culminates in the heartwrench of April 2002, when Hughes decides to step down as America's most powerful woman, to place her ''family first'' and return to Austin.

Robert is now happily reunited with friends for high school, while her husband, Jerry -- a decent, thoughtful, semiretired lawyer who had the good sense to ask that he not be rendered in this book -- tends to family and church affairs. Karen talks to the White House practically every day, prepares speeches and media strategies for the president, flies to Washington every few weeks and whistle-stops the country giving speeches. Besides all that, she wrote this book and, once her book-tour-cum-campaign-swing ends, will join the president in August for his round-the-clock run for re-election. I'm not sure where the tough choice was -- to me, it looks as if she cashed in some loyalty tokens and traded up, multiplied her pay, cast herself as a spokeswoman for working mothers and left others to try to ''counterweight'' Karl, a thankless task. One wonders if we haven't been spun from the get-go.

So, everyone's happy. Except maybe the reader. George W. Bush remains an enigma who guides world events by letting actions speak. And Hughes, maybe the person who knows him best, has used our desire to know the president to plant carefully hewn tales of the goodness and integrity of her family-friendly boss in the public mind.

The only remaining question is when Robert will be writing his memoir. Now, that'll be one worth reading.

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NMDemDist2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 10:45 PM
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1. geez why am i not surprised? n/t
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Nordic65 Donating Member (276 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 10:50 PM
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2. Thanks (feeling sick)
That is one book I'm not ever going to read...
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KissMyAsscroft Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 11:10 PM
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3. Why would anyone want to read that garbage?

She is just Bush's fluffer? Like reading a book by Clinton's hairdresser or one cares.
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emulatorloo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 08:27 AM
Response to Reply #3
10. She created the delightful package that got so many votes in 2000
She made the silk purse out of the sow's ear. Without her lace and gossamer trappings (the caring compassionate moderate bush) Gore would have won in a landslide.
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madmax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 12:00 AM
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4. She takes credit for the term 'compassionate conservative'?
Ummm, Karen are you sure it wasn't Marvin Olasky?

"Behind the talk about 'compassionate conservatism,' though, is a man who would seriously alter the relationship between church and state, and use religious belief as a tool in reconstructing civil society..."
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opihimoimoi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 12:18 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. You would think from her vantage point she could help the Prez define him
self in a better light. That he is not and must be constantly "handled" is, to me anyway, a failure on her part to really help America move forward. Instead, we see her propping the guy and making him appear something he is not, a good guy.

With that in mind, Karen is a Pub Leech sucking at the Pub Teat, nothing great about her, just a normal whorish Pub Op.
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uncertainty1999 Donating Member (223 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 12:26 AM
Response to Original message
6. I heard her speak today at the festival of books!
Watch it on c-span2:

5PM ET/2PM PT Sunday
Karen Hughes, "Ten Minutes from Normal"
LA festival of books.

I was there and heard her talk about her book (the event is worth its own thread, but I don't yet have enough posts to do so).

She was so peppy when she spoke, it made me wonder whether she was on something. You watch it, and you tell me - at once she was a charismatic speaker and totally detached when talking about 9-11, IMHO. Overall she was blowing a lot of hot air about how great bush is (no suprise there) and about her great family friendly work set-up.

About 7 of 10 questioners during Q&A after her talk asked her critical questions about the admin - I expected a few, but that far exceeded my expectations (I was too angry about Bush et al. to formulate a rational question until after the presentation, so I abstained from going to the mic). 2 people asked about bush-cheney hand-holding at the 9-11 commission hearings, and she had no answer for it except to say she was not part of that decision making and it's tricky to get the exec to testify because of separation of powers blah blah - basically she avoided answering the question - (because there is no flattering answer as we know!). She criticized Kerry and Al Franken for calling some people liars (at which point 3 people from the audience yelled at her that Bush IS a liar). when one person was being critical of her (and maybe he was being a bit nasty - I honestly don't remember the question very clearly) the Barnes and Noble people (who sponsored the event) offered to end the entire Q&A!!!. To Karen Hughes' credit, she stuck it out. Then again, she CAN speak confidently in public, not like her good friend GW who would have needed to cut out at that time.

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NJCher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 02:18 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. thanks for the field report
LOL, I love it that three people yelled bush is a liar.

There's something wrong with this woman. Probably the same thing that's wrong with the resident--narcissism.

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0007 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 05:53 AM
Response to Original message
8. Does Karen expose who wrote the "Lump of Coal" poem?
junior sure wanted credit for that one, 'eh? BTW what was that maid's name.

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reprehensor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 08:14 AM
Response to Original message
9. Thanks Mr Suskind...
That was above and beyond, dude.

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kskiska Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 10:29 AM
Response to Original message
11. I like the part
about Robert writing his memoirs. That would be much more interesting.
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