The Administration

Give George Bush Lifetime Secret Service Protection

I just became aware that George Bush's Secret Service protection is only guaranteed for 10 years after he leaves office. The last president grandfathered in for lifetime Secret Service was Bill Clinton.

Folks, whatever we think of George Bush, this is simply wrong. Obviously he would be a potential target, as would any American president going forward after Sept. 11, for the rest of his life.

My hope and advice to Democratic leaders is to offer a proposal to reinstate lifetime Secret Service protection for all future presidents, or at a minimum provide it for George Bush. Go to Republican leaders, make it bipartisan, and pass it. 

Giving George Bush Credit on Immigration Reform

It's time for congressional Democrats and other national Democratic leaders to give George Bush credit on the issue of immigration reform. It is not only the right thing to do — it could help break the cycle of hyper-partisan "gotcha" politics that seems once again to have enveloped Washington now that the Democrats have taken control of both houses after the 2006 election.

My oldest son used to watch me on television defending the Clinton White House from attacks by telling me, "Dad, you have to give something up once in a while." The same advice should apply to the Democrats on Bush's stance on the immigration bill. Democrats would be wise to show the public that it can support President Bush when he has moved to the center and give him credit when he is showing the courage of standing up to his right-wing base. The end result might be not only to encourage future bipartisan approaches by the president, but also to demonstrate that Democrats are willing to stand up to their own rabid base of Bush-haters-no-matter-what. 

A Good Listener

If I am to believe Bob Novak, and he remains quite believable, then President Bush is about to go on a veto rampage and drive the new Democratic leadership in Congress crazy. This is actually an attempt to cut spending and help the Republican Party reclaim the mantle of fiscal responsibility, but we can all brace ourselves for what it will do to further poison the partisan atmosphere in Washington.

According to Novak, Bush has asked House Republicans to join him in sustaining vetoes of at least eight spending bills the House is trying to pass this summer. The White House has received assurances from 147 Republicans they will vote with him when he vetoes appropriations for Homeland Security; Energy-Water and Interior; Labor, Health and Human Services and Dducation; Transportation and Housing and Urban Development; Commerce, Justice and Science; Agriculture and Rural Development; State and Foreign Operations; and Defense. Bush, upon the advice of House Republicans, will not be vetoing the military construction appropriations bill since it contains funding for veterans, Novak wrote. 

Ed Gillespie

I have known Ed Gillespie for close to 15 years. There is no better person to have on your team fighting for your cause than Eddie. The son of a former tavern owner, Gillespie is a scrapper who has had to work hard for everything he has earned in life.

Democrat strategists have attacked Ed as a lobbyist who has gone into the White House for “nefarious” reasons. I am scratching my head trying to figure out what Gillespie can possibly gain from working in this White House now.

My guess is Eddie did it because the president asked him to, and he is a patriot who wants to serve his country in a time of war. And he does so at great personal sacrifice.

I think the real reason that Democratic strategists are attacking Gillespie is because they worry he might be effective. Having a real policy and communications strategist in this White House, who actually knows something about Washington, will be a dramatic change and a positive change for this administration. Democrats should be worried. 

Pardon or Warden

The question has us all atwitter: Will the president keep Scooter Libby out of prison? But actually, here’s the tougher question: SHOULD Libby go to prison? I’m having great difficulty with this.

Let’s face it. This is a political conviction. The investigation into the leaks of Valerie Plame’s CIA identity was the result of a political uproar over the sleazy way her cover was blown as retribution. The administration had been embarrassed by her husband’s disclosure of the president’s Iraq weapons deceptions.

But should Libby go behind bars for lying and malicious conduct? If that’s the standard, we in Washington should be worried. Very worried.

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.