Monday, October 31, 2005

Morning copy 10.31.2005

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How to rebuild a presidency, by George W. Bush

1. Go on a weekend vacation. Come back acting like a president.
2. Name a new nominee FAST. Stick with the base. Pick a dude.
3. Shake up the staff but do not apologize. Or, apologize, but do not shake up the staff.

Scalito or Samuel Alito or both

Numerous news sources are reporting Judge Samuel Alito will be George W. Bush's pick to replace Sandra Day O'Connor.

There are 932 blog entried with "Samuel Alito" in a Google Blog search as of 7:45 a.m. Eastern

Dana Bash on CNN reported some push-back from Bush officials with the nickname "Scalito". That nickname nets 302 blog entries this morning.

Many nominee stories (NY Times, Washington Post) are kind of irrelevant now that a nominee is named. But, Robert Novak's column remains worth a read:

The question is whether the president will take this reasonable approach toward a high court vacancy that is considered vital to his core constituency. Considering the fact that he could have embarked on such a course in the first place and avoided the further loss of public confidence caused by the Miers nomination, nobody can be absolutely sure he will not again blunder. That could mean another Miers-like stealth nominee or, at the opposite extreme, an antagonistic nominee who incites the left.

The Wikipedia entry for Mr. Alito.

POTUS and the staff

The New York Daily News recounts the talkies:

"This is not anything that can't be overcome" to save Bush's second term, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) told CBS' "Face the Nation," but he agreed with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) that a probe of Cheney's office by a "nonpolitical person" could help clear the air.


The continuing investigation raises the possibility that Bush, already politically weakened, will be forced to overhaul his staff and that Cheney, 64, the administration's most powerful figure, is irreparably damaged by the scandal. The investigation hasn't resolved who in the administration provided Plame's name to columnist Robert Novak, who first published it.

Some of the answers may be clearer once Rove's status is settled. Rove, 54, testified to the grand jury for a fourth time on Oct. 14 as Fitzgerald was bringing his probe toward conclusion and seeking to deal with inconsistencies between Rove's accounts and those of reporters. Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, continued talking with the special counsel as late as last week.

Valerie Plame

60 Minutes last night detailed the damage done to CIA operations by the outing of Valerie Plame:

Former CIA colleagues say that by revealing her identity, harm could be caused to the CIA’s agents and operations. "If a CIA agent is exposed, then everyone coming in contact with that agent is exposed," says Jim Marcinkowski, a former CIA agent who trained with Plame at the top-secret Virginia facility known as "the Farm." "There is a possibility that there were other agents that would use that same kind of a cover. So they may have been using Brewster-Jennings just like her," said Marcinkowski, referring to the fictional firm the CIA set up as her cover that also came out when journalists, including Robert Novak, disclosed it.

Marcinkowski points out another problem. "[Plame] is the wife of an ambassador, for example. Now, since this happened, they’ll know there’s a possibility that the wife of a U.S. ambassador is a CIA agent."

The outing of a spy by White House officials is the very definition of unconscionable. A full and honest accounting from this administration is necessary, but not likely to happen.

And but however!

Christopher Hitchens in the Wall Street Journal wonders what the fuss is all about. But he ends up showing the silliness of a (verbose) columnist reading an indictment:

As to the critical question of whether Mr. Plame had any cover to blow, Mr. Fitzgerald was equally insouciant: "I am not speaking to whether or not Valerie Wilson was covert."

In the absence of any such assertion or allegation, one must be forgiven for wondering what any of this gigantic fuss can possibly be about.

Hitch, this was an indictment for perjury and obstruction of justice. I hope you weren't looking for a fall fashion review from the Special Counsel.

Donald Rumsfeld and torture

This from Newsweek:

Fishback has also won a devoted and powerful ally in Sen. John McCain, who says that the captain's tale "is what I view as the tip of the iceberg in the military today." Fishback's account has proved to be a prime exhibit in McCain's long-running feud with Rumsfeld over conduct of the Iraq war. In a long letter to Congress obtained by NEWSWEEK, Fishback told McCain and others in Congress that when the Defense secretary testified before Congress in the aftermath of the 2004 Abu Ghraib abuse scandal, Rumsfeld did not accurately represent what was occurring in Iraq.


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