Bush’s Loyalty

Ken AshfordBush & Co.1 Comment

Bush’s loyalty raises doubts about his political judgment

"It seems that President Bush is falling into the Nixon trap – his administration can do no wrong. His allies and people who support him can do no wrong," said Robert Dallek, a presidential historian. "Palmeiro is above suspicion, Rove is not to be questioned, John Bolton is a stand-up guy.

"The danger is he divorces himself from public reality, political reality, and it erodes his ability to lead the country," Dallek said.

Several analysts said the Palmeiro situation illustrates that point. Bush took a strong stand against steroids in his 2004 State of the Union address, demanding that major league sports take tougher action to eliminate steroid use by athletes.

"The use of performance-enhancing drugs like steroids in baseball, football and other sports is dangerous and it sends the wrong message – that there are shortcuts to accomplishment and that performance is more important than character," Bush said.

But when news of Palmeiro’s positive drug test and 10-day suspension by Major League Baseball became public, Bush almost instantly backed the ballplayer, saying Palmeiro spoke truthfully on March 17 when he wagged his finger at the House Government Reform Committee and emphatically denied ever using steroids.

Bush’s fondness for Palmeiro – who recently became only the fourth major league player to slam more than 500 home runs and 3,000 base hits – dates back to when Palmeiro played for the Rangers under Bush’s ownership.

"Rafael Palmeiro is a friend. He testified in public and I believe him," Bush said Monday. "He’s the kind of person that’s going to stand up in front of the klieg lights and say he didn’t use steroids, and I believe him. Still do."

Bush’s quick defense seemed contradictory to some, in light of his previous tough talk on steroids.

"His defense in this case, so quickly, seemed like an about-face, from taking a stand to a ridiculous statement a fan might make to another fan in a bar," said Richard Lapchick, chairman of the DeVos Sports Business Management Program at the University of Central Florida. "It certainly didn’t seem like he thought that one through."

Bush was against steroids before he was for it his friends got caught using them.