RATHERGATE….President Bush and his team regale Bill Sammon with some comments about Rathergate for his new book, Strategery:

?It looks like somebody conspired to float false documents,? the president tells author Bill Sammon. ?And I was amazed about it. I just couldn?t believe that would be happening [and] then it would become the basis of a fairly substantial series of news stories.?

….The episode, known as ?Memogate,? inoculated Bush against further scrutiny of his National Guard record for the duration of the presidential campaign.

?It also, frankly, gave us an opportunity, frequently, when things came out in the media that we didn?t believe or didn?t like, to say, ?It?s another CBS story,?? said Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, who was the president?s campaign manager. ?I mean, it gave us a serious response to bad news.?

Those memos were fakes, and Dan Rather and Mary Mapes deserved every bit of criticism they got for choosing to air them on 60 Minutes. But I swear, comments like Bush’s and Mehlman’s are enough to half convince me that Bill Burkett’s supposed source for the memos, “Lucy Ramirez,” really was an RNC plant ? a longshot dirty trick that succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. It was like manna from heaven in the waning days of the closest reelection campaign in the past century.

POSTSCRIPT: Just for the record, though, I don’t think it was an RNC dirty trick. I think the evidence points pretty strongly toward Burkett himself as the creator of the memos. However, I doubt we’ll ever know the truth for sure.