The GOP presidential shortlist for 2012 gets even shorter …

Wow. The Mark Sanford bombshell hit Capitol Hill on Wednesday afternoon just like the rest of the nation as the conservative former GOP House member admitted he had been involved in an extramarital affair with a woman in Argentina, and not hiking the Appalachian trail alone, as had been previously reported.

Speaking on Fox News after Sanford’s midday news conference in Columbia, S.C., former state GOP Chairman Katon Dawson called the Sanford announcement a “game-changer” for politics in the Palmetto State. Answering a few questions, but leaving unanswered about 10,000 more, Sanford said he would immediately resign his chairmanship of the Republican Governors Association, but not the governorship.

With so many lies, so many people lied to and so many questions remaining to be answered, Operation Drip, Drip, Drip is sure to kick in, with mounting pressure for Sanford to step down. I’ll be sure to keep you posted. I already said “Wow,” right?


Some hopeful signs that the docile and domesticated White House press corps might finally be coming to life.

Following that Tuesday White House news conference where President Obama belatedly found his inner outrage and outer voice (“appalled and outraged”) over the tragic turn of events in Iran, much of the follow-up chatter focused (rightfully so) on the White House press shop’s amateurish planting of a “questioner” in the room so the president might get pitched a nice, fat, lumbering softball about waist-high and straight down the middle of the plate.

Mission accomplished. But the high-profile presidential stagecraft seriously backfired when it was so over-produced that it came across like one of those cheesy infomercials where the rich-guy real estate tycoons sit in front of their luxurious seaside villas drinking Mai Tais and interviewing their young, adoring disciples, who are still in the process of trying to acquire their own villas.

The earth is not going to stop spinning because the president co-opted a member of the press to help sell his message of the day, but I am a little disappointed that one of the in-room reporters didn’t bust out the president (or his press shop) about the obvious bogusity (I know this isn’t really a word, but it should be) while it was unfolding in real time. I know this dates me, but sometimes I really, really miss Sam Donaldson covering the White House. I said sometimes.

Major, the major-leaguer

Despite the lounge-act duet by Obama and the Huffington Post’s Nico Pitney, the winner of the Question of the Week award goes to the short, succinct, to-the-point query by Fox News correspondent Major Garrett. After referring to the president’s opening comments of outrage, Garrett respectfully, smartly and simply asked: “What took you so long to say those words?”

Unlike this columnist’s occasional intemperate snideness, Garrett wasn’t the least bit snarky in his tone. Given the staging and the timing of the daytime news conference, Garrett’s was really the only question that needed to be asked.

Nancy vs. the CIA

Speaking of Team Obama’s press tactics, it might not be a bad time to congratulate Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) press shop for its apparent success in getting the Nancy v. CIA story off the front pages. Team Pelosi has successfully employed an array of its own tricks to bottle up the matter.

My favorite: Pelosi’s use last month of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.) and other Dem leaders as live stage props to help her filibuster, delay the game and otherwise use the oratorical equivalent of the four-corner stall during a news conference destined for multiple CIA questions.

Then, just a few weeks ago, Pelosi went visceral and hand-to-hand by simply using angry Speakatorial intimidation, shouting down a reporter who had the temerity to ask a CIA follow-up question. The intimidation tactic has apparently worked to such effect that no Capitol Hill reporters have dared mention the letters C-I-A to Pelosi since.

God forbid anyone has questions for Pelosi about some earmark for the Culinary Institute of America. My esteemed readers wouldn’t think less of me if I humorously and with smile firmly on face suggested Speaker Pelosi might have picked up a few tricks about dealing with the press during her recent trip to China, would they?

Call me old-fashioned, but it seems to me that an unresolved matter with the third-highest-ranking official in government calling the nation’s premier intelligence agency a bunch of liars would be a huge story in any nation on the globe — even China. Although, just like in China, if reporters wanted continued access to that particular government leader, the story would probably just sorta drift away. In any case, today is the six-week anniversary of Nancy vs. the CIA (not the Culinary Institute). Cake and balloons during the Speaker’s weekly news conference? Probably not.

You can reach Jim Mills at