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Letter to the Editor on Coronavirus and Washington


Posted May 8, 2020


Dear Editor:


Lee Atwater, the late political consultant, had a talent coveted by George H.W. Bush’s presidential campaign team: he directed negative attention away from Bush. In 1988, George Bush Sr., a thoughtful writer of handwritten letters, was deemed too decent a person to suggest that Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis was responsible for felon Willie Horton committing rape while furloughed from prison. Bush was just too nice, but Atwater? No problem.

During the 1988 presidential campaign Dukakis, commenting on Reagan White House scandals said, ”There’s an old Greek saying: ‘The fish rots from the head first. It starts at the top.” President Reagan shrugged it off, but Atwater, with righteous indignation, lashed out in an interview as if the quote was directed at him personally.  It was pure theater that would have made the current White House team proud.

Mark Twain reputedly said “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” Enter campaign 2020.

George Bush Sr., a reluctant mudslinger himself, had just enough conscience flexibility to hire those with fewer qualms: Karl Rove, John Sununu, and Atwater. There’s too much difference between George Bush Sr. and President Trump to suggest history is repeating itself, but I think I found a figurative rhyme with Lee Atwater: Peter Navarro.

After a recent coronavirus meeting, Navarro, current trade negotiator, had an argument with immunologist Anthony Fauci over a drug. Why would a trade negotiator be involved in such a discussion? Doesn’t matter. He’s a good lightning rod.

After the 2018 G7 meeting, Navarro said of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, “There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader who engages in bad faith…” Lee Atwater would be impressed.

Will Navarro eventually transition to Trump’s 2020 campaign manager? Stranger things have happened.


Jim Newton

Itasca, Il 60143


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