The Administration

Hearing and Listening

I always wondered how the White House would respond when that dismal day came and the poor Republicans in Congress would have to tell Bush they had had enough. Indeed, we now know that 11 moderate Republicans went to Bush to tell him Tuesday that he has lost credibility on the war and has spent nearly all of their patience. But the characterization of this event by Tony Snow, who I am a huge fan of, almost made me fall out of my chair this morning. It is not another "marching up to Nixon," and "not one of those cresting moments when party discontents are coming in to read the president the riot act," Snow said.

OK, so what is it?
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Tornado Strikes — Blame the Governor!

The White House bullies are at it again.

A tornado levels the town of Greensburg, Kan. The city’s police and fire departments are wiped out. State and local officials struggle to deal with the emergency. And what’s the Bush White House do? Attack the governor of Kansas and accuse her of not acting fast enough.

Shades of Hurricane Katrina! That’s just what they did with the governor of Louisiana — another woman, and another Democrat. And all Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sibelius did was tell the truth!
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Real Queen Meets Phony King

It was a regal gathering at the White House. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of England was received by His Majesty King George II of the United States.

As seen on national television, it was all glorious pomp and circumstance, except for one untidy fact: She’s a real queen, while he’s just a wannabe king.

Yet he acts like he really is a king. He disdains the common people. He ignores the will of members of Parliament, or Congress. He decides which laws he will obey and which ones he will not. In fact, ever since Sept. 11, 2001, he acts as if he is above the law.
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America’s Goodwill Ambassador

Ambassador to the World!

For months, everybody’s been asking: How will Bill keep busy if Hillary’s elected president? Now we know: Hillary says she’ll make him some kind of roving ambassador — to make friends around the world for the United States.

If you ask me, it’s the best idea Hillary’s come up with yet!

For one thing, after six years of George Bush, we need a goodwill ambassador. By his arrogance, his unilateral war in Iraq, and his cancellation of so many international treaties, Bush has turned the United States from the most admired nation in the world … to the most despised.
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Punishing Incompetence

What a difference an election makes. Now, to the shock of the White House head-in-the-sand crew, members of Congress are holding them accountable on all fronts. Today, we see the family of Pat Tillman, and Jessica Lynch, and a House committee uncovering the lies and cover-up from Bush’s military. We have seen Republicans and Democrats rake Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and his aides over the coals and uncover more political incompetence.

Did the “loyal Bushies” really think that none of this was going to come to light? Did they really believe that they could keep the lid on their White House decision making? Did they really believe they could run roughshod over the Congress, as though it did not even exist?
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Sanjaya Steals the Show

For Washington, D.C, it’s as close as we ever get to prom night: The White House Correspondents Dinner. I was one of the 3,000 who crowded in the ballroom of the Hilton Towers for this year’s intimate event. And, as always, it was jammed with big names.

From the White House: President and Mrs. Bush, Karl Rove, Tony Snow. From the Cabinet: Condoleezza Rice, Alberto Gonzales and Michael Chertoff. From the Congress: Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), David Dreier (R-Calif.), Jane Harman (D-Calif.). From Politics 2008: Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson. From the states: Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley; New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer; California Attorney General Jerry Brown.
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Gonzales resignation — don't hold that thought

Well, it is after 6:00 on a Friday night — time to announce the Gonzales resignation.

Oops, the White House Correspondent's Dinner is tomorrow, when Hollywood and politics and the Prez mix. We wouldn't want that to be the FOCUS for POTUS now would we? OK, folks, how about a nice Sunday, post-talk show announcement. Yup, sounds good.

If I were a cynical, true-blue Democratic strategist I would argue that Gonzales should stick around for several more weeks (months?) so we could make political hay from this complete incompetence but no, not me, get it over with and let's get a new Attorney General appointed. Maybe Karl Rove would like the job?
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Opportunity

The White House seems concerned that if it fires Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, it will be in for a bruising confirmation fight. Not necessarily.

I am not sure if they know it yet, but the administration is in big trouble. Its credibility meter is running low, the president’s approval ratings are consistently dismal, and congressional Republicans are losing patience quickly.

They need to make a big change. When Ronald Reagan needed big-time help, he called in Howard Baker. When Bush’s father’s campaign needed a boost, they turned to James Baker. So which Baker is the current president going to turn to?
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Stuck in the Stupor of Denial

When did the Alberto Gonzales resignation vigil commence? As tiring as we find it, it is hard to imagine how he drags himself to work and back each day. But yesterday's pummeling at the Gonzales hearing pleased President Bush. And Gonzales still has the "confidence" of the president — one of my all-time favorite Washington-scandal expressions. I am beginning to think this means Bush was glad Gonzales was blasted and that he is "confident" Gonzales will see the writing he has thus far failed to notice on the wall.

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), not considered even remotely to be a reflexive Bushie, had stuck by Gonzales but had had enough. Before Gonzales testified, Specter said the attorney general's characterization of his participation has been "significantly, if not totally, at variance with the facts." After Gonzales spent five hours trying to explain all the discrepancies and still could not remember important things like a conversation with President Bush, Specter said, "I think we have gone about as far as we can go ... we have not gotten really answers."
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Pedaling Back

The Democrats in Congress are now thinking of making their timetable for withdrawal from Iraq "advisory" — I just couldn't wait to see what they would come up with to pedal back. Should they proceed with their current  strategy, the Democrats' plan will have standards for military readiness that can be waivered and withdrawal dates that are advisory. What does this mean? It means status quo, Bush wins; this sounds like a package of non-binding, Democratic advice on its way to the president. He is The Decider, but hey guys, The Advice Taker he is not.

Knowing they are likely to lose some votes of anti-war Democrats by softening the terms for withdrawal, some Democrats are pushing a plan to keep sending 60-day amounts of war funding to drag this out. But since Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, seems to think June 1 is a final date for Congress to submit a funding bill that won't be vetoed, that 60-day calendar would have had to start by now.

Clearly the Democrats need to drag this veto standoff out as long as possible, but it still looks like there is no way for Bush to lose this fight.
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