November putsch

November 26, 1991

President Bush would be well-advised to rush to the nearest bookstore and get a copy of Mikhail Gorbachev's new book, "August Putsch: The Truth and the Lessons." And read closely what his Russian friend says about the lessons.

Consider what's happened to Bush so far this month:

* On Nov. 10, his housing and urban development secretary, and erstwhile competitor for the Republican nomination for president in 1988, goes on national TV to disagree with the president on economic policy. Stop this dilly-dallying, Kemp told Bush bluntly, cut taxes and get the economic recovery started. Don't listen to those ignoramuses, Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady and Budget Director Richard Darman, who keep telling you not to do anything drastic, that you might knock down the whole economic house of cards built on supply-side economic fantasy.

* On Nov. 21, Bush's White House counsel, C. Boyden Gray, writes a speech for Bush to deliver at the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 in which the president in effect repudiates the very act he is signing. In face of a national uproar, the president scraps the planned speech just hours before its scheduled delivery.

* On Nov. 24 his redoubtable chief of staff, John Sununu, goes on national TV to say that he wasn't responsible for the bonehead blunder that made the stock market drop 120 points. Don't look at me, said Sununu with a perfectly straight face, it was that dope in the Oval Office who ad-libbed the line jawboning banks about their high credit card interest rates.

* On Nov. 23, 82 House Republicans of the restive Right sent Bush a letter telling him to appoint the rebel HUD secretary, Jack Kemp, as domestic policy czar to "declare war on our domestic ills." Never mind that Kemp hasn't fired a shot in that "war" in his three years as head of that silent department.

The lesson Bush might learn from reading Gorbachev's book? Don't take any vacations.

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