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October 27, 2005

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Miers withdraws.

In the last 24 hours, we've had Bush withdraw his plans for Davis-Bacon rollback, his plans for bunker busters, and his personal lawyer. Not a strong week so far, and we haven't even gotten any indictments yet.

And they think they're going to be strong enough to deflect on the indictments? Not bloodly likely.

"In the last 24 hours, we've had Bush withdraw his plans for Davis-Bacon rollback, his plans for bunker busters ..."

The White House is now objectively pro-bunker.

Lots of MSM types asking the question: "Why now interview Wilson neighbors about whether they knew she worked at the CIA? Shouldn't THAT have been done earlier?"

Perhaps an answer is this. The point of the interviews was to signal a potential indictee that the "everyone knew who she was" argument wasn't going to fly and that dealing made more sense. The neighbor had already been interviewed but the was interviewed again JUST SO reporters could follow and do an interview themselves once the G-Men left.

The White House is now objectively pro-bunker.

With the Russians already across the Vistula in two places, this strikes me as both wise and timely.

Is there a schedule someplace of the submarine departures for Buenos Aires?

Davis-Bacon and bunker busters will only be noticed by junkies, but ditching Miers gives the media a perfect while-we-wait-for-the-indictments filler story. It's as if the White House opened a popcorn stand, so we can load up while we wait for the show.

-- Rick

Interviewing the neighbors also shows that there was aconcerted effort to keep Valerie's job at the CIA a secret. This is an element under one or more of the statutes about releasing classified info.

There were some interesting observations on CNBC this am about the Miers withdrawal. The business community actually rather liked her nomination because they felt she understood business and would be more receptive to putting their concerns before the court. (Remember, much of the SC's jurisdiction is discretionary, and there have to be 4 votes to take a case that comes by writ certiorari; Rehnquist was notorious for wanting the Court to take fewer cases in general.) But a conservative scholar-type would be concerned with issues like federalism and perhaps the social issues, not necessarily straightening out antitrust or intellectual property or arcane tax issues. Moreover, a flamer is likely to trigger a filibuster or other chaos that would interfere with Congress' remaining agenda, especially extending the dividend and capital gains tax cuts (which I suspect they care much more about than the upper bracket rate cuts, since they create a far greater tax savings). None of the business people were happy about this development.

So once again Bush finds himself in the same predicament as before--how to find a pro-business conservative he can trust who can get through the Senate without disrupting business for the remainder of this year and next. But now the far right wingnuts as well as the far right legal conservatives are feeling the whiff of victory. Can he disappoint them again? Does he care?

And let's consider the ostensible reason for withdrawing Miers: refusal to disclose confidential communications. That would apply to Gonzo as well. But at least there, as with Roberts, there may be enough of a judicial record and paper trail that they could stonewall the document requests and still have enough for the Senators to go by.

The timing means that confirmation hearings couldn't begin until next year. That is election season. So I think this si a real blow to the Bush economic agenda as well as just about everything else. No one will by happy. A judicial Ben Bernanke will enflame the social conservatives. But a Priscilla Owens is bad for business, because it disrupts what is eprhaps their last chance to get business-friendly measures through the Congress.

Many criticized Harry Ried's "nice lady" comment, but I think in retorspect he struck just the right tone for himself (letting others be more strident). The Right clearly killed this nomination, to the extent it wasn't self-inflicted, and that isn't good for either Bush or the GOP in the long run.

I agree completely, Mimikatz. The righties will view this as their moment of finally storming the fortress, and expect full deference from here on. But they're delusional: Bush is at the moment extremely weak, and only getting weaker if Fitzgerald indicts. He can't, as they hope, appoint a judge who essentially declares he/she will overturn Roe (or Griswold, for all I know). Or, put better, he CAN...but he'd have to expect full-throated opposition from Dems (and the small band of need-moderate-votes Republicans), up to and including a filibuster. If the GOP then tried the nuke option -- especially with a scandal-stained Cheney issuing the ruling -- I think you'd get close to civil uprising in the country.

The long-uneasy balance between raid-the-treasury conservatives and repeal-the-60s (hell, repeal-the-20th-century) conservatives is coming to a head at precisely the same moment that foreign policy failure, a weakening economy, domestic incompetence and burgeoning scandal have done severe damage to Bush and his entire party. This could be one of the most spectacular meltdowns in American political history.

How does David Brooks conclude that a man who lost the popular vote once, and won it the second time by the smallest margin of any re-elected incumbent in history, was ever so magically in touch with "the American people"? Even assuming most voters cast ballots enthusiastically (which I dispute -- I think a significant percentage always take a "well, at least he's better than the other guy" approach), there's simply no data to suggest Bush was "in touch", unless you count right after the Trade Center attacks -- at which point anyone in power would have been given deference by a traumatized public.

There's no one more dangerous than a politician -- or pundit -- who feels he "knows" what the majority of Americans want.

More good tidbits:

Steve Clemons reports at The Washington Note that Fitzgerald has signed a lease on more office space across the street. Hard to believe it is jsut to store all his boxes.

And read Paul Begala's piece at TPM Cafe about what it is like to work in a besieged White House and how Bush's preference for toadies and sycophants will make things far, far worse.

If more people realized that Bush is Nixon redux, not Reagan, they would realize that we need some steady hands on the helmhere, particualrly someone like James Schlesinger who can tell the armed forces to ignore any orders not signed by him. Instead we have the certifiable Donald Rumsfeld, and the paranoid Dick Cheney masquerading as the "adults".

Dem,

I'm amazed you can read Brooks. Steam comes out of my ears when I do. He is, however, a very good bellwether of the Republican Party unofficial line, from which he never strays.

Given that, I would say it is a good sign that he doesn't seem to get it at all that the Wilson affair (which he tries to somehow belittle by calling "Plamegate") is tied to the whole going-to-war-on-false-pretenses "gate" [now that's "gate"-worthy!], as has been pointed out here at TNH.

I really don't think they understand what is coming at them. Incredible, given the Wilkerson comments.

mimikatz, that's my rumor link, for those interested.

TTT, I do it so you don't have to.

Dem, do you actually read Brooks top to bottom? I find a glance at his opening pargraph, and the highlighted pull quote, tell me pretty much what silliness he's peddling today, so I don't have to annoy myself by reading every word. (With Tierney, I don't even get that far)

Sorry, Dem, for not clicking through all the links before posting.

And on Brooks--I suspect that the GOP does get how bad this is, but minimizing its importance is not one of the top strategies they are pursuing. Somewhere I saw a poll where 80% of the people thought that releasing the identity of a CIA agent for political payback was serious or very serious. I'm sure Luntz has told them that.

It must be really painful for the more intelligent among the GOP intellectual poseurs to realize that the guy they hitched their wagon to is just a mediocre rich-boy blowhard with nothing at his core. They supported all manner of ridiculous positions they didn't believe in for the sake of promoting the power of an empty (but "manly") suit and his two mad henchmen. At least being a Democrat means you can criticize the party leadership and all factions if you want.

Sorry--I meant minimizing its importance IS one of the top strategies they are pursuing.

demtom, i read all sorts ofd stuff... the Note, Brooks, NRO, glen reynolds, Sully... but never Tierney. He's just awful.

Mimikatz, it was Gallup.. 39% say what the WH did with Plame is unethical, 39% say it's illegal.

A new USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup poll reminded the White House of the damage the CIA leak case has already inflicted: Eight in ten people surveyed said that aides had either broken the law or acted unethically.

link from WaPo.

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