The Administration

A Tale of Two Cities

U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton has just ruled that Scooter Libby must report to prison within the next four to six weeks after denying Libby’s request to remain free on bail pending appeal of his sentence. (By way of full disclosure, I was hired by Libby to join Vice President Cheney’s staff in late December 2000 as the deputy domestic policy adviser to the VP.) The airwaves have been abuzz with what political implications this will have for the Bush White House and whether justice has been served by this ruling.

I can’t help but believe there are two different standards for two differing high-profile political defendants in Washington, D.C. How else to explain the disparity in fate between former Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger and Libby? Berger, you will recall, was researching highly classified documents at the National Archives for testimony before the 9/11 Commission relating to threats during the Millennium. Berger, it was proved at trial, removed these highly sensitive documents, returned some and destroyed others; the rationale behind this action has never fully been explained.

Immigration Bill is Now a 'Confidence' Vote

Bush's visit to Capitol Hill to push his immigration reform bill has, in effect, transformed the vote on the bill into the American equivalent of a British confidence vote. In a parliamentary country, he would have to resign if he lost the vote. Here, he will stay but be slowly twisting in the wind for the next 18 months.

In a sense, this vote has assumed an importance somewhat akin to the impeachment vote on Bill Clinton, also 18 months before his second term ended. If the Democrats had deserted him on that vote, he would have had to leave office. If the Republicans desert Bush on this vote, he might as well do so.

A Divisive Ordeal, Part III

Not to carry this too far, but I find I agree in part with Ron Christie, not maybe about all of Gen. Pace's decisions or comments (especially about gays), but about the process.

The Democrats are entitled to question and criticize Pace and focus on the Iraq war. They are entitled to vote against him if they so choose. But for this administration to pull the nomination because they didn't want to take on the issue of Iraq shows a lack of political courage and a lack of belief in their policies. OK, so they got blowback from Democrats — at this point they are getting blowback from practically everybody, no matter the political stripe or ideology.

Scooter Scoots Off to Slammer

Thirty months.

For Scooter Libby, 30 months in the slammer for lying to the grand jury and FBI investigators about his role in leaking the identity of undercover agent Valerie Plame.

I know we’re all supposed to feel happy about his misfortune, but I don’t. Not that I feel sorry for Scooter Libby. He’s a smart lawyer. He knew better. Yet he deliberately participated in an ugly political attack against an outspoken critic of the president’s war in Iraq — and then became part of the cover-up. He got what he deserved.

But I’m not happy about Libby’s prison sentence for two reasons. First, because, to this day, nobody’s yet been held responsible for the main crime: deliberately unmasking the identity of an undercover CIA agent, and putting her life and the lives of the agents she works with at risk. That’s a federal crime that remains unpunished.

Sad sad day

Vice President Cheney, Bob Novak, Tim Russert and Judith Miller could not possibly have slept well last night.

The sentencing of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby to a 30-month prison term is devastating and maddening. There's no doubt he perjured himself, but he should have been given a sentence of six months, not 30. This was a political not a legal trial in which the Democrats won and our country lost. Does this prosecution, urged on by the Democratic mob, feed the appetite of those vengeful Americans who would like to punish this administration for starting the Iraq conflict?

No matter your thoughts on Libby and this administration, I think we can all agree that no one found joy in yesterday's sentencing by U. S. District Judge Reggie Walton, who is not inclined to let Libby stay free pending appeals. Lessons learned from former Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton tell us that eventually we must all be held accountable for our illegal and unethical actions, no matter how powerful we may think we are. Congressman Bill Jefferson, I hope you and your family are somewhere taking serious note of this verdict.


Bad Day for President Bush

This wasn’t a great day for President Bush. First, Scooter Libby gets sentenced. Then the Republicans debate in New Hampshire and spend most of their time bashing the president. Rep. Tom Tancredo (Colo.) said that he governed as a liberal. Rep. Duncan Hunter (Calif.) chimed in on immigration. Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) said the Bush administration badly mismanaged the war, etc. etc, etc.

And this is the Republicans!

President Bush is not doing well in the polls, but he is pretty popular with the base (or he was until his defense of the immigration bill). So why do these Republicans feel the need to bash the president? After all, this isn’t the general election yet.

I do believe that the president’s tough defense of the immigration bill means that many Republicans will feel more comfortable taking Bush to task. And clearly, our continued involvement in Iraq has become tiresome to more and more Republicans.


Bush’s Courage in the Eleventh Hour

Fellow bloggers Peter Fenn and Karen Hanretty, from opposite ends of the political spectrum, have both weighed in this week against President Bush’s decision to criticize immigration reform opponents on the right. I agree that at 28 percent approval it is foolish to blast conservative Republicans who are his only remaining friends, but it’s easy to see why he did.

Bush, who yesterday reversed course and proposed talks on global warming, is showing political courage in his eleventh hour. After making political decisions for years — some very popular and many, many of them politically practical — he is trying to find some guts. We all believe he supports immigration reform on principle but now we know he wants it so much he is willing to throw his own conservative base overboard. Foolish or not, that’s gutsy.

Bush Attacks Unpatriotic Conservative Republicans

As Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) calls conservatives who oppose the immigration bill bigots and promises to shut them up, the president calls them unpatriotic and turns his demonization politics against the Republican Party’s base.

Here is the state of play for Republicans: the conservative Republicans accuse progressive Democrats of being unpatriotic, while the president accuses conservative Republicans of being unpatriotic.

The worm turns.

The revolution begins.

Already the pundit class proclaims how the Democrats are enjoying this.


Even in the Right, Bush Can’t Help But Go Low-Blow

I know this is hard to believe, but I began this blog post yesterday with the idea of praising President Bush. I thought, you know, Bush is getting a bum rap on his immigration reform proposal. He has stuck by the importance of actually solving the problem, getting something done, producing a compromise plan and working with all sides.

And I actually feel that he believes in a humane, comprehensive plan that treats people fairly and deals with the need for enforcement and border control. He, of all people, understands the issue from his days as governor of Texas and has been totally consistent for years.

OK, so what happened?

Bush goes to Georgia and attacks his opponents (primarily Republicans this time) with accusations that they have not read the bill, that “they don’t want to do what’s right for America” and they want to “frighten people.”

The President and the Right

How liberating it must be to not have to face another election!

President Bush is calling them as he sees them. And as he sees it, the conservative critics of his immigration bill are way out of bounds.

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

I support the immigration bill. I think it is important to get something done and get it done this year, for our nation’s economy and security. I also think it could be good politically for the Republican Party. We need to get to be able to compete for the Hispanic vote if we want to be the majority party in the long term, and getting this bill done could help us.

But the president needs to engage the critics of the bill in a constructive way. Saying that they haven’t read the bill insults their intelligence and is easily disprovable. Calling concerns “empty political rhetoric” and critics “fear-mongers” doesn’t help. And it certainly won’t help get the bill done in the House.