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White House Press Secretary Dana Perino's Job Gets a Lot Easier

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When Westword profiled former Coloradoan turned White House Press Secretary Dana Perino last September, she admitted that "there weren't a lot of people lining up" to take the position. But now, her gig looks like one of the easiest in Washington. Americans of every political stripe are currently paying little or no attention to the actions of her boss, President George W. Bush. He couldn't be a lamer duck if he was wearing a head-to-toe body cast. For that reason, Perino's public appearances on his behalf no longer have a life-or-death feel. She's merely filling time until the next Prez comes along.

As evidence, eyeball her January 28 spot on Fox News' morning program, Fox & Friends. Perino's task was to preview President Bush's State of the Union address -- his last as commander of the free world, and her first as his mouthpiece. But far from being a high-pressure showcase, the conversation turned out to be a lark, due largely to the fact that even Friends regulars Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade, who seem predisposed to blush and gush over every administration statement or policy, didn't seem interested in the substance of the speech.

Perino, clad in a spiffy, high-collared red quasi-uniform that made her look like a member of Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, did manage to reel off a few factoids about Iraq and the economy, and when she suggested that millions of Americans would pay dearly if the President's tax cuts of a few years back weren't made permanent, Kilmeade offered a supportive "ouch!" for emphasis. But seconds later, both hosts quickly veered into fluffier territory. After noting that the President's positive poll numbers had tumbled from a high in the 80 percent range to the current level of 32 percent, Kilmeade asked if she'd take responsibility for the fall. Perino laughed good-naturedly before saying, "Sure, if that's where people want to fix it, that's fine." As for Doocy, he only wanted to talk about an alleged "slumber party" involving President Bush's twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara Bush. "I'll bet you do," Perino replied, with just a smidgen of naughtiness. Much chuckling followed, with Perino initially claiming not to know the details -- "I wasn't invited," she noted -- but then promising to get the skinny for the leering Doocy.

A tough job? Not these days -- but somebody's got to do it. -- Michael Roberts

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