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More Journamalism from the New York Times

Grownup Republican Watch: Bruce Bartlett

Anybody in the Republican Party--or elsewhere--who wants there to be an honest conservative economic policy wing of the Republican Party in the future needs to think very carefully about the case of Bruce Bartlett.

Here's Elizabeth Bumiller from today's International Herald Tribune--tomorrow's New York Times:

White House Letter: Criticism of Bush leaves conservative in the cold | Elisabeth Bumiller International Herald Tribune | SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2006: What happens if you're a Republican commentator and you write a book critical of President George W. Bush that gets you fired from your job at a conservative think tank? For starters, no other conservative institution rushes in with an offer for your superb analytical skills. "Nobody will touch me," said Bruce Bartlett, the author of the forthcoming "Impostor: Why George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy." He added, "I think I'm just kind of radioactive at the moment."

Bartlett, a domestic policy aide at the White House in the Reagan administration and a deputy assistant Treasury secretary under the first President Bush.... "Impostor" is flamboyant in its anti-Bush sentiments... [but] its basic message reflects the frustration of many conservatives.... Like them, Bartlett is particularly upset about Bush's Medicare prescription drug plan, which is expected to cost more than $700 billion over the next decade.... "The Clinton people were vastly more open and easier to deal with and, quite frankly, a lot better on the issues," Bartlett said.... "I haven't switched to the Democratic Party," he said. "I wrote this for Republicans."

One Republican, Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, responded to Bartlett's book by e-mail message over the weekend. "Spending is coming under control," McClellan wrote, adding that in the 2007 budget submitted to Congress this month, "the president put forward the most disciplined non-security discretionary proposal since the Reagan era."...

Bartlett, 54, the author of a syndicated newspaper column and articles in academic journals, was dismissed in October as a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis... fired because his increasingly critical comments about Bush... had hampered the ability of the research institution to raise money among Republican donors.

He also provided a copy of an e-mail message... by Jeanette Goodman, the vice president of the research institution. "100K is off the table if you do another 'dump Cheney' column and 65K donor is having a rebuttal done, in a national magazine, to your attack on the fair tax people so that 65K may be gone also."... "Do you have any ideas on where I could raise that amount quickly?" John Goodman, the president of the organization and Goodman's husband, said in a telephone interview over the weekend that he did not know what his wife had said to Bartlett and that he did not want to say whether Bartlett "did or didn't hurt fund-raising."...

So what now? "I've been thinking about writing a history of the Democratic Party," Bartlett said. "It kind of seemed an interesting thing for a Republican to do."...

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