New Book Notes That Not Long After 9/11, Bush Twice Took Time Out To Discuss ... The Prospective Ownership Of The Boston Red Sox?
On Friday, I questioned whether, in the midst of a growing crisis between Israel and the terrorist group Hezbollah, and the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it was appropriate for President Bush to take time out to have a photo-op with the singers from the just-completed season of Fox's American Idol.
Turns out, Bush found time not long after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks for similar moments of questionable appropriateness.
On page 120 of Feeding The Monster, a new non-fiction book about the Boston Red Sox baseball team by Seth Mnookin, there's this tidbit:
MNOOKIN (discussing the events of Dec. 19, 2001): (Prospective Red Sox owner Tom) Werner arrived, fresh from a dinner he'd attended with Katie Couric at the White House. President Bush, who'd gotten to know Werner when Werner owned the Padres and Bush owned the Rangers and had personally lobbied Bud Selig on behalf of (prospective Red Sox owner Joseph) O'Donnell ...
So, not long after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, Bush took time out of his schedule to:
a) Lobby baseball commissioner Bud Selig regarding the planned sale of the Red Sox.
b) Have dinner with prospective Red Sox owner Tom Werner and then-girlfriend Katie Couric.
Yes, this is four-year-old information, albeit information just recently revealed by Mnookin (more on that below). But alongside Friday's visit with the American Idol singers, it paints a better picture of how this president works when some pundits are saying that World War III is upon us.
Maybe it's wrong to think our president should be all-business during crises. In the weeks following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, with the nation looking to rally around Bush, weren't most Americans envisioning him huddling with his inner circle or his top military leaders, determining how to capture Osama Bin Laden and dismantle Al Qaeda? Or working with the powers that be -- in the days before the befuddlement known as the Department of Homeland Security -- to discuss improving air, rail and port security, border security, and the security of our nation's chemical and nuclear plants? Or meeting with, or writing to, the families of those who had lost loved ones -- especially police officers, fire fighters and other emergency personnel -- in the terrorist attacks?
No one is suggesting the president should be Superman. But less than 100 days after one of the worst points in American history, it bothers me to think the president spent meaningful time on the potential ownership of the Red Sox. And I'm a Red Sox fan.
What was discussed at Bush's dinner with Werner and Couric? Who knows.
After conducting several Google searches -- this and this among them -- I found no evidence that Couric referenced her dinner with Bush on NBC's Today Show. A little odd, considering Couric is one of the world's best-paid journalists. The White House also made no reference to the dinner.
We can only imagine.
In addition to discussing baseball, maybe Werner brought up Sept. 11. Mnookin notes on page 101 of Feeding The Monster that Werner was scheduled to fly on American Airlines Flight 11 (one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center), but because a Sept. 10 meeting ended early, he flew to New York, had dinner with Couric, and boarded a different flight to Los Angeles.
Maybe Bush brought up the videotape Bin Laden made, which the White House had released just a few days earlier. Or maybe he discussed the "American Taliban," John Walker Lindh, who press secretary Ari Fleischer discussed at that morning's press briefing.
Or maybe, in keeping with a light-hearted dinner, they discussed the new $65 million contract Couric had signed that morning with NBC.
Maybe it's best we don't find out.