Ari Fleischer Will Be Missed?

I heard a lot of buzz today about the announced resignation of White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, 42. Friends and co-workers seemed genuinely pleased by the news of his departure. I certainly won't miss his condescending manner, but I wish I could say that I'm optimistic about what his departure means.

Fleischer wouldn't reveal much of his reasons for leaving in today's press briefing except to say:

"You just reach a point where you have to look into your heart that it's time to go.... I'm looking forward to spending more time with my wife, Becki [Rebecca Davis, a former White House staffer].... I met my wife who worked in this White House. And I'm very much looking forward to relaxing and spending more time with her.... I will be in Washington for the next couple years, maybe do a little speaking, maybe do a little writing, support in any way I possibly can the President so he can run for reelection and win. And then, eventually, head into the private sector; eventually, move back to Westchester to where I grew up.

Ari Fleischer now becomes the role player who leaves the championship team to explore free agency. I guess it's good news for Corporate America that such a desirable player is now on the market. Fleischer stands to make more money, and get more playing time as a starter, now that he's leaving the White House for a lucrative job in the private sector. No doubt, he'll take some cues from other White House Press Secretaries.

A peculiar sidenote: One White House reporter (Goyle) had this to say to Fleischer during today's briefing:

I don't know really how I thank you for your help and support, making me a better journalist. I learn every day from you. And you have been one of the best Secretaries in my 20 years in the White House I have seen. Smiling always, and always available and access to the press. And we will miss you, and especially I will miss you deeply. And I hope maybe we'll meet some day somewhere, and it will be better than here.

Puh-leeze! Who is this person, and why the need for such a sycophantic display? The correspondent from the Financial Times was a little less glowing in his review of Fleischer's 2-1/2 year stint.
"[Fleischer] has served President George W. Bush by providing a low-protein diet of information to a hungry press corps....Mr Fleischer has been the rigid front-man of a self-disciplined White House which prefers to drip-feed information. He has had a fractious relationship with some of the senior White House officials, and often a combative time with the press corps....And, at times, he has given the plain truth a wide berth without stepping quite into the realm of falsehood....On occasion the fast-talking press secretary's mouth would get ahead of White House policy."

I'll leave the last word on the subject to
Jonathan Chait of The New Republic wrote a long biography of Ari last year, stating, "Fleischer has broken new ground in the dark art of flackdom. Rather than respond tendentiously to questions, he negates them altogether." Shouldn't we be celebrating in the streets, now that he's going?

Nah. Not only is he likely to be replaced by his ideological stunt double, Scott McClellan, but we'll see the old boy again. Ari stands to make hundreds of thousands, if not millions, on the speaking circuit during the upcoming election. May the campaign trail rise up to meet you, Ari.