Lawmaker News

Great Theater, But Little Progress

The new congressional majority is making great headlines beating up members of the executive branch, but making little progress on important priorities of the nation.

House Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) has subpoenaed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rise over nuclear yellow cake, sparking a possible executive branch-legislative branch showdown. This fight will dominate the headlines. But what new ground will this hearing break? After all, Rice already testified on this issue in her confirmation for the post she currently occupies.

Following the grilling of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales last week over the firing of U.S. attorneys who everyone agrees the president has the right to fire, you can see a trend here.

Newt en Español

Newt Gingrich and Spanish. Oh, boy! You really should not go there, Newt.

In his attack on bilingual education he spoke of “the language of living in the ghetto.” Then he kind of, sort of, apologized. After listening to him, you really do know what “ghetto Spanish” sounds like.

But here is the irony about Newt and his attack.

Gingrich apologizes in a bilingual TV announcement, on a bilingual website containing a Spanish translation of his biography … and still insists on condemning a bilingual approach to helping kids learn English.

So you do think we should be English-only, huh? Or maybe you do want that Hispanic vote after all, Newt! Where do you stand?

Speaker Pelosi Is 100% Right About Syria

With the administration of the most failed and catastrophic national-security policy in history in full-throated attack demeaning the Speaker, and mainstream media as usual parroting the attack with minimal response for the first 24 hours, it is time to make this case: The Speaker is absolutely right and it is important to consider exactly why.

First, let's be clear about exactly what the Speaker did. She put pressure on Syria to do exactly what the president claims he wants Syria to do. She put pressure on Syria to do exactly what Israel wants Syria to do.

If there is any message received by Syria from this trip, it is that the Speaker and Democrats join the president in demanding Syria provide security guarantees to Israel, stop any support for terrorist groups, and stop any action that helps those in Iraq killing Americans.

For Pelosi, a Familiar Dilemma

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is facing the same problems in rounding up a House Democratic majority for a vote on the war as Bill Clinton had in finding support for his economic-stimulus package in 1993. A notoriously fractious bunch, Democrats in the House are almost impossible to discipline. But they can be bribed. Just as Clinton paid them off with all manner of pork, so Pelosi is being forced to add sweeteners, in the form of local projects, to bring all the congressmen she needs to pass her anti-war amendment on board.

The problem is that the pork then acquires a life of its own, and will besmirch the record of Pelosi just as it did that of Clinton. The fact is that when you are depending upon a majority of House Democrats, you are no longer their leader, but instead their hostage, and they are no longer your followers, but become your jailers.

Dems Need to Review the Constitution

Watching the activity on Capitol Hill this week, I can draw no other conclusion than certain Congressional Democrats need a refresher course on the Constitution they swore an oath to protect and defend.

First, of course, are the bullying tactics employed by the House and Senate judiciary committees to compel testimony from senior White House officials about confidential conversations held both amongst themselves and potentially with the president of the United States. Despite evidence of no underlying crime, these two committees have authorized their chairmen to issue subpoenas to White House officials for privileged conversations — a move that would be held up in the courts for years and one that, according to many scholars, runs afoul of the Constitution.

Shame on Politico, Shame on Many In the Media

Above all, Elizabeth Edwards is a woman of incredible courage, inspiration and grace and we hope and pray she stages a complete and total recovery. Personally I hope that John Edwards, with his prayers for the woman he loves, campaigns brilliantly across the country with the love of his life in his heart every day, and our country in his spirit.

Edwards is not my first choice, but he's a good man and America is well served by his running a campaign of true leadership. Thank God Elizabeth Edwards has a prognosis more favorable than it could have been. It's great John Edwards is staying in the hunt.

The Politico has a good product, but this must be said: The story today reporting that Edwards was going to suspend his campaign, which was stated as a declarative fact, was both shameful and symptomatic of much that is wrong with the media.

The Distraction That Bush Needs

As everyone in Washington continues to watch the clock on the tenure of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, today’s Washington Post story on Bush appointees interfering with the government’s case against tobacco said so much more than the damning words of a former Justice Department prosecutor could tell. Even more damaging than her accusation that the Bush loyalists in the AG’s office micromanaged the strategy to the detriment of the government’s case against tobacco companies was its timing. The first Republican I saw at the Capitol this morning said, shaking his head, that the tipping point on Gonzales had already been reached. “He has no room left for this,” he said.

For its own political stability the Bush administration needs the distraction of a Gonzales resignation. Amidst the brewing constitutional showdown over subpoenas for Karl Rove & Co., some dramatic and lengthy hearings for a different, viable and strong candidate for AG is just what the doctor is ordering. Gonzalez must know this. The fact that he is still standing means he has quite a stomach. I can’t imagine the stomachs in the West Wing being that strong.

Cover-up Gets You in the End

“Show trials. Fishing expeditions. Executive privilege. Political witch hunt.” Oh boy, we have heard it all before.

Let’s cut through all this rhetorical presidential anger and get to the heart of the matter. Bush and his palace guard (“loyal Bushies”) have done it again. They put their damage-control machine into high gear and decided that they can cover it all up, sweep it under the rug, and no one will notice.

It worked for six years on everything from the Libby/Plame fiasco to funding the war in Iraq through supplementals because there was no congressional oversight. It won’t work any more.

A Curious Line in the Sand

The Democrats are drawing the line in the sand at a pretty curious place. Instead of putting all of their efforts into coming up with a coherent strategy on Iraq, or passing legislation that matters to the Democratic base, they are picking their big fight over the attorney general’s firing of seven U.S. attorneys.

Some facts that everybody knows but that bear repeating:

  1. The president can fire any of these U.S. attorneys for any reason. They serve at the pleasure of the president. They don’t have a vast bureaucracy with lots of rules to protect them. If the president doesn’t like the color of their socks or if he doesn’t like their prosecutorial pedigree or for any other reason, he can fire them. That is one of the truly great things about being president. You can do that kind of thing.

  2. Bill Clinton fired all of the U.S. attorneys when he came into office, including the U.S. attorney who was investigating the president’s Whitewater real estate transaction.

  3. Nobody cares about this outside the Beltway.


I Smell a Rat

To: Dr. Watson
From: Holmes

Watson, I smell a rat. I want you to devote your investigative resources to uncover the rat. Here is what we know:

1. A well-qualified U.S. attorney in Arkansas was fired under suspicious circumstances.

2. Arkansas is the former residence of one Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has already been subject to unsavory attacks from right-wing conspiracies, vast and otherwise.

3. The well-qualified fired U.S. attorney was replaced by one Timothy Griffin. Mr. Griffin is a former aide to Karl Rove, the King of oppo research and smears. Karl took an aggressive personal interest in his hiring as U.S. attorney.