Leaving the Reservation

We barely had time to react to Matthew Dowd’s bomb of a confessional Sunday when another one exploded on Monday. Vic Gold, longtime friend of President George H.W. Bush and the Cheneys, has also left the reservation with a big, hot blast.

“For all the Rove-built facade of his being a ‘strong’ chief executive, George W. Bush has been, by comparison to even hapless Jimmy Carter, the weakest, most out-of-touch president in modern times ... Think Dan Quayle in cowboy boots.” These are not the words of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) but of Gold in his new book, Invasion of the Party Snatchers: How the Holy Rollers and the Neo-Cons Destroyed the GOP.

Gold, a friend of W’s father who had worked on his campaigns, feels badly about what his declarations could do to 41. But despite his loyalty Gold could no longer keep quiet about 43. He co-authored a novel with his good friend Lynne Cheney in 1988 and wrote — at her request — glowing profiles of her and her husband for the inaugural program when Bush took office in 2001. The vice president is his old friend too, but now he says Cheney is out of control and has been “hiding who he really was ... he was waiting for an opportunity.”

If President Bush and his intimates took comfort on Monday morning in writing off Dowd as a former Democrat who was never really one of them, they will struggle to rationalize what Gold has written. But what will sting more is that in a statement Bush’s father offered once he learned, from Gold, about the coming attack in the book, he chose not to offer any defense for his son.

“Vic Gold is my friend and always will be,” the former president said through a spokesman. “I have not read the book, but if it is as critical of the president as I have heard, I am sure I wouldn’t like it.”

What’s next?