President Bush came to town this week, showing all the power of the U.S. presidency big airplane, a fleet of Marine helicopters, raising millions of dollars for GOP candidates and so on.
Utah is one of the few states in the nation where the president still has favorable job approval ratings. Nationally, one recent poll showed that only 27 percent of Americans think Bush is doing a good job.
In Utah, more than half the populace approves of the job the president is doing.
It must feel good to Bush to be among at least some of the people who still like him.
Bush has further ingratiated himself to Utahns by being nice to Mitt Romney (90 percent of Utahns who voted in the February GOP presidential primary here voted for Romney) and by picking former Gov. Mike Leavitt to be in his Cabinet (Leavitt at one time had a job approval rating above 80 percent as governor and now is secretary of health and human services).
Bush's Utah fundraising visit closed to the public and media happened at the same time as his former press secretary, Scott McClellan, released a new book on his years with Bush.
It is reportedly the most critical book yet by a Bush insider. McClellan is a Texan who came to the White House with Bush in 2001 and was first the deputy press secretary and then the press secretary until he was basically asked to resign several years ago.
McClellan was close to the top decision-makers inside the Bush administration, especially during the run-up to the start of the Iraq war.
One of McClellan's main claims is that top administration officials lied to him on several occasions especially concerning the administration's leak about former CIA operative Valerie Plame and that McClellan then went before the press and repeated those lies.
McClellan seems very upset about this.
Well, I say, welcome to my world.
As a political reporter for nearly 30 years, I've had all kinds of politicians lie to me, and then I put those lies into this newspaper quoting those politicians, of course.
A reporter tries to balance one side's arguments (which often are barely one side of the "truth") with comments from those on the other side. But there are still times when one knows that the politician is basically lying to you.
It is an unpleasant feeling, to say the least.
Here is a great example:
I recall, maybe 20 years ago, I had been writing about gifts, specifically Jazz tickets, taken by a number of Utah legislators and getting a lot of criticism from many of the lawmakers. (Some things never change.)
Anyway, I was sitting in an open noon caucus during the general session when a crusty old senator leaned over and said something like: "Bernick, where are all these Jazz tickets I'm supposed to be getting? I'm not getting any." (This was before the law requiring reporting of expensive gifts to legislators by lobbyists there was no reporting of Jazz tickets taken by lawmakers back then.)
I'd had about enough. So I got up and walked out of the caucus, searching for a lobbyist I knew was close to the senator and who had season tickets to the Jazz. I found the man, and said that senator so-and-so was complaining he wasn't getting enough Jazz tickets.
The lobbyist said: "What? I've given that guy more tickets than anyone else. He likes to take his grandson to the games. Tell him he can have two more tickets next week."
I didn't bother to pass along the offer. I figured the senator would find some way to hook up with the lobbyist on his own.
I have little sympathy for McClellan.
McClellan clearly didn't like being lied to by some top White House officials he believed were his friends.Take out the friends part, and I and other political reporters have been living with the same stuff our professional careers.
Deseret News political editor Bob Bernick Jr. may be reached by e-mail at [email protected]