Yesterday we had this:
The White House, seeking to cool criticism from a former top anti-terror adviser, said Tuesday that Richard Clarke's resignation letter praised President Bush's "courage, determination, calm and leadership" on Sept. 11, 2001.
"It has been an enormous privilege to serve you these last 24 months," said the Jan. 20, 2003, letter from Clarke to Bush. "I will always remember the courage, determination, calm, and leadership you demonstrated on September 11th." ...
White House spokesman Scott McClellan suggested Clarke's praise belies his later criticism of Bush's handling of the crisis....
This was absurd. If you want to know how seriously to take the praise in letters like these, aske Paul O'Neill and Ron Suskind:
O'Neill gave [his press secretary, Michelle] Davis [a former aide to Dick Armey] his resignation letter. "I hereby resign the office of the Secretary of the Treasury." One sentence.
"You can't do this," she said, getting over her tears from a moment before. "It's an affront. There is a way this is done. There are certain things you have to say, or their absence will create news."
"I refuse to say I'm leaving to spend more time with my family," O'Neill said, "or any of that bullshit."
She drafted a resignation letter. It was filled with standard resignation prose -- about what an honor it has been to serve this President, and how hopeful he was about the country's future, what a great team he'd been a part of -- four paragraphs of the stuff. "I'm not doing that," O'Neill said. "Makes me gag."
Dear Mr. President,
I hereby resign my position as Secretary of the Treasury.
It has been a privilege to serve the nation during these challenging times. I thank you for that opportunity.
I wish you every success as you provide leadership and inspiration for America and for the world.
--Ron Suskind, The Price of Loyalty, p. 315
O'Neill refused to participate in the ritual. Obviously Clarke just went along with it.