Thursday, September 22, 2005

Robert Novak Exasperates Charlie Rose

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Robert Novak ... is a most disagreeable man, of this there can be no doubt. Rven the tempermentally mild Charlie Rose has difficulties with Novak. The Prince of Darkness' enemies in Washington are legion: McLaughlin, Valerie Plame -- the list goes on (and on ...). Our favorite Dickensian villain Robert Novak was busy doing the work of Beelzebub, causing all sorts of hooplah and unmitigated heeziness at the Forstmann Little Aspen Weekend, which is, for the uninitiated, sort of a hungry man's the Bohemian Grove, minus the overt homoeroticism.

Of course, Novak -- even among people of his own class -- found something to gripe about in his column on this supposedly "off-the-record" event (Oops; you shouldn't have invited Novak). The chief characteristic of Robert Novak is, after all, argumentativeness. This man could have driven Mother Theresa to commit homicide (Justifiable, to be sure). According to his Chi-Sun column:

"The Bush-bashing occurred last weekend at the annual Aspen conference sponsored by the New York investment firm Forstmann Little & Co. More than 200 invited guests, mostly prestigious, arrived Thursday (many by private aircraft) and stayed until Sunday for more than golf, hikes and gourmet meals. They faithfully attended the discussions presided over by PBS' Charlie Rose on such serious subjects as 'global poverty and human rights' and 'the 'new' world economy.' The connecting link was hostility to Bush.'"

Oh, and he's just warming up ...

'''All discussions are off the record,' admonished the conference's printed schedule.

"Consequently, I will refrain from specifically quoting panelists and audience members. But the admonition says nothing about personal conversations outside the sessions. Nor do I feel inhibited in quoting myself.

Nor does he feel inhibited in the expelling hot air. Just keep making the rules up as you go along, cornbread:

"Even if I am violating the spirit of secrecy rules, revealing criticism of Bush by this elite group, and the paucity of defense for him, is valuable in reflecting the president's parlous political condition."

No mention, of course, of the bloated sense of self-imprtance of the author:

"The Forstmann Little Aspen Weekend is made possible by the generosity of Theodore J. Forstmann, a supporter of supply-side economics and contributor to the Republican Party. Invited guests are drawn from government, diplomacy, politics, the arts, entertainment and journalism.

"I was surprised that the program indicated the first panel, on stem cell research, consisted solely of scientists hostile to the Bush administration's position. In the absence of any disagreement, I took the floor to suggest there are scientists and bioethicists with dissenting views and that it was not productive to demean opposing views as based on 'religious dogma.' The response was peeved criticism of my intervention and certainly no support."

Killjoy. One can imagine the sprinkling of peeved corporate titans, heckling, "Who invited Novak?"

"I do not see myself as a defender of the Bush presidency, and I am sure the White House does not regard me as such. But as a member of the second panel consisting of journalists, I felt constrained to argue against implications that Hurricane Katrina should cause Bush to rediscover race and poverty. My comments again generated more criticism from the audience and obvious exasperation by Rose. After the closing dinner Saturday night, the moderator made clear he was displeased by my conduct.

"After the first two panels, I feared I was the odd man out in accepting Teddy Forstmann's invitation."

You don't say? The funny thing about Robert Novak is that he seems to be acutely aware of the effect that he has on people. (i.e. "obvious exasperation by Rose") the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said to Novak, "Bob, you�ve become a Catholic. Now let�s see if you can become a Christian."

Read more of the exasperating Robert Novak here

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