Ex-White House Aide Burns Bridges With Insidery New Book
You've got to wonder why Matt Latimer wrote "Speech-Less: Tales of a White House Survivor." Sure, he might make a few bucks, but the former Pentagon and Bush White House speechwriter gives withering assessments of almost everyone he ever worked with -- big names to little-known insiders. Suffice to say, he'll probably never work in this town again.
The memoir, released Tuesday, made headlines last week when GQ ran an excerpt claiming George W. Bush casually dismissed Sarah Palin with "What is she, the governor of Guam?" -- a slap that comes near the end of the 279-page book. But there's so much more! The conservative young author finds something embarrassing or petty to say about all his colleagues:
Latimer doesn't spare words when it comes to settling scores with mid-tier administration officials. You know, not the big shots, but the folks who'd have a hard time getting a table at Cafe Milano. Allison Barber, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communications: "Always had a smooth prepared answer. ... I never trust people like that."
Or presidential aide Marc Thiessen: A "small-government archconservative" who Latimer says bragged about ordering up every free medical test he could get at the Naval hospital in Bethesda.
Or former boss Nick Smith (R-Mich.), a low-profile congressman who left office in '05, yet gets 20 pages of embarrassing anecdotes: He had designer labels sewn into his cheap suits; he supposedly told a tour group the bullet holes in the House chamber "came from some Puerto Ricans after Eisenhower was assassinated."
Most of Latimer's targets told us they haven't had a chance to read the book. "If he's suggesting I thought Eisenhower was assassinated, that would be pretty far-fetched," Smith said. "I don't remember Matt Latimer on any of those tours with me. ... I can't remember how long he worked for me. Maybe two months before he went to the Senate."
Barber, now running her own public affairs firm, said: "I am a communicator, that's what I do for a living. I always try to be prepared. I find it unfortunate if people question that."
So who got spared? Latimer's former bosses Sen. Jon Kyl, then-Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who is working on his memoirs with Latimer, according to William McGurn in the Wall Street Journal. McGurn says he hired Latimer for an unsuccessful year at the White House and calls the book "full of hurt feelings and high schoolish drama."
The author, of course, defends his book as "a candid, sometimes uncomfortable, look at our system of government and those who help it run, including many who inspire and others who have fallen prey to a Washington buddy system that puts privileges over principles."
What next? Latimer didn't say, but there's a hint at the end of the book: Hollywood.
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