The Administration

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?

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.

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?


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?

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."

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.

Bush 43 Invites Congress to Soviet-Style Meeting; Bush 43.5 Issues Pravda-Like Propaganda

As Chuck Hagel said, America rejected a king long ago. As George Will wrote, some of the seizures of presidential power demonstrate monarchical tendencies.

As former Congressman Bob Barr and former House Republican Leader Dick Armey have said, some of these extreme actions violate classic notions of conservatism, Republicanism and common sense.

These individuals and other very principled conservatives have spoken out strongly and clearly. They are not liberals, Democrats or progressives, and they would disagree with much of what I write on many things, but have spoken out with integrity on matters that have gone terribly wrong.

Bush Summons Democrats to White House

Well, what do you know? President Bush wants to meet with congressional Democrats. He wants to meet with them to discuss funding for the war in Iraq. In fact, he’s invited them down to the White House next Tuesday, April 17.

There’s only one catch. Bush told them ahead of time: Unless you’re coming down here to agree with me 100 percent, don’t bother.

And, in response, Democrats did the right thing. Both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) told Bush: You say ahead of time you won’t budge. Guess what, George? You can take your meeting and shove it.

Bush Can't Find a War Czar? Big Shock!

What stunning news. The White House can't find a general interested in being war czar in charge of overseeing both operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. If we held a "Most Thankless Job" contest, where would War Czar for the Bush wars of 2007 rank?

One prospect, retired Gen. John "Jack" Sheehan, former NATO commander, told the Washington Post "they don't know where the hell they're going," and explained that the power of hawks like Vice President Cheney still trumps the realists in the administration who are searching for an end to the war. "So rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said, 'No, thanks,'" he said in what is considered in Washington to be a VERY bold on-the-record statement for a military man.

Attorney Firings Were Clearly Based on Politics, Not Performance

A lot of media time has focused on the U.S. attorneys scandal and players such as Kyle Sampson and Monica Goodling, staffers who suddenly hit the spotlight. When I read the 33-year-old Goodling’s bio of being educated at a very conservative school in Pennsylvania, Messiah College, and the law school founded by Pat Robertson, Regent Law, in Virginia Beach, bells went off in my head.

I remember reading several articles about the sudden change in the Justice Department’s recruiting of lawyers early on in the Bush administration. Under John Ashcroft, many of the new lawyers were not chosen on the basis of competence, performance, legal training or law school record, but rather by their ideology and their politics.