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Grapevine Whine - Boo Hoo Over Barnes Book

Reported by Nancy - January 25, 2006 -

Monday night (1/23) on Special Report, anchor Brit Hume indulged in a typical bit of Foxian self-promotion, using one of the "pickings" on his Grapevine segment to whine about Fred Barnes's latest book not getting enough adulation. Pay attention, readers: there's a mini-quiz included with this post.

Here's "picking" #2:

The Conservative Book Club is turning up its nose at Rebel-in-Chief , the new book on President Bush by Weekly Standard executive editor & FOX News contributor Fred Barnes. Not only is the club not offering the book, but the club's editor-in-chief, Jeffrey Rubin, is denouncing it as filled with "empty puffery". The conservative book club is part of the same company as Regnery Publishing, which bid for the book but didn't get it. Barnes says he doesn't think that's the reason for the trashing, telling the Washington Post, "I guess they don't like Bush or me either."

Comments: Really, is it possible to get whinier than this?

Barnes's book (the full title is Rebel-in-Chief: How George W Bush Is Redefining the Conservative Movement and Transforming America ) is published by Crown Forum. I searched the website of the
Conservative Book Club & could find no reference to it (although I did feel the need to take a shower after reading through some of the material they DO recommend).

There are plenty of reviews of the book at Amazon, including this from Publishers Weekly (emphasis added):

The Weekly Standard executive editor and Fox News personality preaches to the Crawford choir in this analysis-cum-tribute to the Bush presidency. Readers who keep pace with current events will find little new in Barnes's take on the president's policies, but what's instructive are the surprising glimpses into the personality of a man Barnes celebrates as an "insurgent leader" who's "an alien in the realm of the governing class" that despises all things Washington and revels in his status as "a revolutionary with a revolutionary vision." Indeed, the capital is a locale he regards as a "job site" at best and a "detention center" at worst where the increasingly Republican-populated Washington establishment is "reactionary" (and "Bush ignores them"), and the national press corps "reminded Bush of the liberal students he detested in his years at Yale." His disdain for newspaper-reading is well-known, but Barnes goes to great lengths to detail the president's copious book-reading habit (five to every one that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reads), from Michael Crichton's State of Fear and Margaret MacMillian's Paris 1919 to Natan Sharansky's The Case for Democracy and David McCullough's 1776. However, Barnes's cheerleading proves wearying after a few chapters : no matter what the topic, the president is right and everyone else is wrong. Bush, like Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt, has been "prematurely judged to fall short of presidential specifications," leaving Barnes to conclude "Bush is a president of consequence." Ardent partisans will enjoy this polemical valentine , which should be read with care by readers seeking fresh insights into the mind of the 43rd president.

Under the heading "Praise for Rebel-in-Chief " Amazon includes the following blutbs:

1. “Think you know the real George W. Bush? You’re wrong. Fred Barnes has managed to entice a surprisingly private man to reveal important hidden aspects of himself and his very consequential presidency.”

2. “No one in the Washington press corps understands George W. Bush better than Fred Barnes. He provides the best picture we have had yet of a president who is, as Barnes writes, ‘an inner-directed man in an other-directed town.’ I couldn’t put it down.”

3. “Crackling with fine reportage and analysis. Barnes knows this subject better than anyone.”

4. “I know Fred Barnes and I thought I knew what he knows about President Bush. Boy, was I wrong. This book is a revelation. I couldn’t stop reading it.”

5. “A one-of-a-kind journalistic feat—getting inside the president’s view of himself and the presidency. Only Fred Barnes with his clear conservative credentials and unique access to the president could write this book. This is a direct and passionate trip into the heart of Bush country. Lucky for history.”

6. “George W. Bush is not an easy president to understand or to appreciate, even for his supporters. Now one of the nation’s great political reporters goes beneath the surface to reveal the president’s passion and vision. This is must-reading for Bush backers and Bush bashers alike.”

So here's the mini-quiz, readers -- see if you can match up who said each blurb (answers will be posted after a few hours so you can check back to see how you did, & no fair cheating by reading Amazon first):
A. Michael Barone, senior writer, US News & World Report
B. Larry J Sabato, director of the Center for Politics, Univ of Virginia
C. Brit Hume, host, Fox News Channel’s Special Report with Brit Hume
D. Juan Williams, senior correspondent, NPR
E. Robert D. Novak, nationally syndicated columnist
F. Rich Lowry, editor, National Review

First reader to match all 6 correctly gets a free subscription to our free weekly newsletter! Bonus points & a free subscription to our free weekly newsletter will go to the first reader who can tell me what ALL of those blurb authors have in common (& it ain't just that they're all men).

Reader reviews (also at Amazon) include such titles as "Barnes' half-hearted sycophancy" & "Cult of no Personality" (from readers who describe themseles as "liberal") as well as "Not very good" (from a "fan of the Beltway Boys") & "Sadly, the Left is Right" (from a reader whose "family has voted Republican since 1896).

So it looks like CBC aren't the only ones not thrilled with Barnes's hagiography. But I'm sure Hume's plug will help boost sales of the book, & there's nothing more important to the greedy than the bottom line.

If you'd like to complain to Fox about this, email: special@foxnews.com

NOTE TO READERS: Please stay on topic (Fox's penchant for self-promotion, this particular "picking" or Barnes's book itself if you've read it). O/T comments will be deleted. Thanks.