On Sarah Palin:
[T]he president [George W. Bush], ever the skilled politician, had concerns about the choice of Palin, which he called “interesting.” That was the equivalent of calling a fireworks display “satisfactory.” “I’m trying to remember if I’ve met her before. I’m sure I must have.” His eyes twinkled, then he asked, “What is she, the governor of Guam?” Everyone in the room seemed to look at him in horror, their mouths agape. When Ed told him that conservatives were greeting the choice enthusiastically, he replied, “Look, I’m a team player, I’m on board.” He thought about it for a minute. “She’s interesting,” he said again. “You know, just wait a few days until the bloom is off the rose.” Then he made a very smart assessment. “This woman is being put into a position she is not even remotely prepared for,” he said. “She hasn’t spent one day on the national level. Neither has her family. Let’s wait and see how she looks five days out.” It was a rare dose of reality in a White House that liked to believe every decision was great, every Republican was a genius, and McCain was the hope of the world because, well, because he chose to be a member of our party...
On John McCain:
I was once in the Oval Office when the president was told a campaign event in Phoenix he was to attend with McCain suddenly had to be closed to the press. The president didn’t understand why when the whole purpose of holding the event had been to show Bush and McCain together so the press would stop asking why the two wouldn’t be seen together. If the event was closed to the press, the whole thing didn’t make sense. “If he doesn’t want me to go, fine,” the president said. “I’ve got better things to do.” Eventually, someone informed the president that the reason the event was closed was that McCain was having trouble getting a crowd. Bush was incredulous—and to the point. “He can’t get 500 people to show up for an event in his hometown?” he asked. No one said anything, and we went on to another topic. But the president couldn’t let the matter drop. “He couldn’t get 500 people? I could get that many people to turn out in Crawford.” He shook his head. “This is a five-spiral crash, boys.” We tried to move on to something else. But the president wouldn’t let go. He was stuck on the Phoenix event. At one point, he looked off into space and said to no one in particular, “What is this--a cruel hoax?”