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No ‘Hardball’ game

Bush confidant won't discuss tapes after all

Douglas Wead, the turncoat President Bush confidant who secretly taped conversations with the future president in the late ’90s, has canceled an appearance on MSNBC, telling the network he’s had a change of heart about going public with the tapes.

In a note to “Hardball” anchor Chris Matthews, Wead said he’s asked his attorney to “find the best way to vet these tapes and get them back to the president to whom they belong.”

“It seems the better part of wisdom for me to forgo television at this time,” Wead said. “It would only add to the distraction I have caused to the president’s important and historic work.”

Wead, a former aide to George H.W. Bush, recorded conversations with the then-candidate for president from 1998 to 2000 in which Dubya discussed a wide range of issues from dealing with Steve Forbes in the primary to the Christian right to anticipated questions about cocaine and marijuana use.

Wead first disclosed the existence of the tapes to New York Times reporter David Kirkpatrick in December to defend a passage in his book “The Raising of a President.” He allowed reporters to hear and broadcast the tapes over the past week as he promoted his book on presidential parents.

The White House did not dispute the content of the tapes, instead dismissing them as casual conversations “with someone he thought was a friend.”

President Bush referred to Wead, a former aide to his father, by a number of nicknames, including “Weadie” and “Weadnick.”

But Wead has since rethought his media strategy and planned to appear on “Hardball With Chris Matthews” to express his regret for violating the president’s confidence.

“Contrary to a statement I made to the New York Times, I have come to realize that personal relationships are more important than history,” he said.

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