Monday, October 31, 2005

Alito: The Second-Best Nominee for the Supreme Court

PRESIDENT BUSH WENT out of his way last month to let the nation know that Harriet Miers was "the best candidate" for the Supreme Court. Apparently that wasn't true. In fact, Just Inside the Beltway knows of a couple of lawyer buddies who may have been better candiates. But Bush presses on, this time doing his best to draw attention away from the fact that a White House staff member was indicted for the first time in 130 years.


By nominating a judge to the Supreme Court who is sure to 1) create a major fight between the Dems and Republicans, 2) make Ann Coulter and the far-right very happy 3) make sure that in about 3 days the entire country will be saying "Scooter who?"

Just Inside the Beltway doesn't begrudge Bush for nominating the guy he wants, afterall he is the President. The problem is that this nomination now looks so transparently disingenuous in the wake of the Miers debacle. What was wrong with Alito the first time around, no indictments to worry about? How does Miers even get in the same league with a experienced judge like Alito (leaving his ideology aside for the moment), let alone pass him and get the nomination?

It seems clear that Mr. Rove, fresh off his indictment-free weekend, is back in charge. Rove's mantra for the past 5 years has been simple: when things get tough, lay a big sloppy kiss on your base and tell them that you love them. Alito is a conservative for all conservaties -- all the right views on states' rights, gay issues, abortion, etc. I'm sure Dr. Dobson, Gary Bauer, Ralph Reed, and the like are patting themselves on the back right now. Their efforts (along with Bush's disaster of a week last week) have given Conservaties the nominee they wanted.

With the Alito nomination, Bush not only gave the right-wing a big, fat kiss -- he slipped them some tongue.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Thanks, but No Thanks

IF YOU HAD Harriett Miers lasting one calendar month as a Supreme Court nominee, you lose! Bush's "very qualified" candidate couldn't even get out of October before withdrawing her nomination. Bush --wait for it -- "reluctantly accepted" her withdrawal. Yeah, about as much as I would "reluctantly accept" a new car. Just about everyone indside the Beltway new this nomincation was doomed and the quicker Miers go out the better for everyone involved.

POTUS made the following statement early this morning: "It is clear that Senators would not be satisfied until they gained access to internal documents concerning advice provided during her tenure at the White House -- disclosures that would undermine a President's ability to receive candid counsel."

Well, Mr. Bush, when you nominate a candidate from your hip pocket who has no judicial record you better damn well know that Senators on the confirmation committee are going to go digging into her record in YOUR White House. What else do they have to go on, some speech she gave at a PTA meeting in Houston 10 years ago? I would expect nothing less from the Seante.

Miers' withdrawal comes near the end of a pretty rough month for this Administration. But it's still far too early to look ahead to November; there are still 4 days left in October Patrick Fitzgerald still could come down with indictments.

My money is on only one indictment . But don't follow my bet, I had Harriett Miers making it until the middle of November.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

It Depends on What Your Definition of "Learned" Is

Talking Points Memo -- a Just Inside the Beltway fav -- has an interesting look at Bush's famous 16 words from the 2003 State of the Union speech.

As I hinted at in this post from earlier this evening, in his 2003 State of the Union address President did not say "Iraq purchased uranium from Niger" or even that "the British say that Iraq purchased uranium from Niger." He said something much more specific and couched, using language the significance of which would only become clear months later.

"The British government," said the president in the famous sixteen words, "has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

As we learned later that summer and fall, those carefully chosen words had a very precise rationale behind them. The White House tried and failed to get the uranium claim into the October 7th, 2002 Cincinnati speech. The same battle was refought in late January of 2003 as the same parties struggled back and forth over whether the claim would be inserted in the State of the Union address. The CIA refused to countenance the use of the claim. So a compromise of sorts was struck. The president wouldn't be a fact witness to the allegation. He'd hang it on the Brits.

So the president wasn't saying Saddam had bought uranium. He wasn't even saying he'd tried. He said the Brits had "learned" that he tried.

Some White House defenders still hang their hat on this point, arguing that nothing the president said was in fact false. Anybody who got the wrong impression just didn't read the fine print. That argument (let's call it 'the con-man defense') speaks for itself, I think.

Read more [TPM]

More essential reading from the morning papers:

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Democrats Picking a Theme

With the Republican party reeling from an unpopular war, numerous scandals, and a Supreme Court nominee with only slightly better creditials than your average personal injury lawyer, the Democrats are preparing to unveil their slogan for the 2006 election cycle. The Hill is reporting that members of the Dem caucus are meeting behind closed doors to discuss the new slogan. The choices: "Together, We Can Do Better" or "Together, America Can Do Better."


The Democrats are in desperate need of direction and need to take advantage of the mess the Repulicans have created for themselves. Some inside the party are worried that Americans think of the Democrats as having no real ideas and no plan to lead the country forward.

Well, duh? Just Inside the Beltway has been thinking that for nearly a decade. If you need proof of how disconnected the Dems are, just consider these slogans that have only recently been rejected:

  • "Vote Democrat -- it's the only other option you have."
  • "We don't know what we would have done different in Iraq, but you can bet your ass we would have done things a lot different."
  • "Sorry, we kind of blew that John Kerry thing."
  • "Damn you, Ohio."
  • "Vote Democrat -- we can't screw things up much more."
  • "Bill Clinton Rules"
  • "Tony Blair belongs to England's version of the Democratic Party -- that's got to mean something."

Democratic leaders have been testing the phrases in speeches during recent months. Nancy Pelosi used it in reference to the Katrina relief effort; Durbin used it on Fox news just last week; and Maria Cantwell used is during an Oct. 1 radio address.

Get ready. "Together, America Can Do Better" is about to come to a political rally near you.

Water Getting Hotter Around Cheney

According to today's New York Times, notes from a conversation between Big Time Cheney and Scooter Libby contradict the testimony that has already been given by the VP Chief of Staff. It seems Cheney himself may have been a bit more involved and he may have received information about Plame from CIA Head George Tenant. Cheney's own words and tesitmony don't seem to add up when patched together into a timeline. Here is Cheney from 'Meet the Press' on September 14, 2003

MR. RUSSERT: Now, Ambassador Joe Wilson, a year before that, was sent over by the CIA because you raised the question about uranium from Africa. He says he came back from Niger and said that, in fact, he could not find any documentation that, in fact, Niger had sent uranium to Iraq or engaged in that activity and reported it back to the proper channels. Were you briefed on his findings in February, March of 2002?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: No. I don’t know Joe Wilson. I’ve never met Joe Wilson. A question had arisen. I’d heard a report that the Iraqis had been trying to acquire uranium in Africa, Niger in particular. I get a daily brief on my own each day before I meet with the president to go through the intel. And I ask lots of question. One of the questions I asked at that particular time about this, I said, “What do we know about this?” They take the question. He came back within a day or two and said, “This is all we know. There’s a lot we don’t know,” end of statement. And Joe Wilson—I don’t who sent Joe Wilson. He never submitted a report that I ever saw when he came back.
I guess the intriguing thing, Tim, on the whole thing, this question of whether or not the Iraqis were trying to acquire uranium in Africa. In the British report, this week, the Committee of the British Parliament, which just spent 90 days investigating all of this, revalidated their British claim that Saddam was, in fact, trying to acquire uranium in Africa. What was in the State of the Union speech and what was in the original British White papers. So there may be difference of opinion there. I don’t know what the truth is on the ground with respect to that, but I guess—like I say, I don’t know Mr. Wilson. I probably shouldn’t judge him. I have no idea who hired him and it never came...
VICE PRES. CHENEY: Who in the CIA, I don’t know.
According to notes from Libby this would have been three and a half months after Cheney received a detailed briefing on just what had happened from George Tenet at the CIA. Something doesn't add up Mr. Vice President.
Get the latest at the New York Times or read a good summary and interpretation from Talking Points Memo.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Tom DeLay is No Nick Notle

Just Inside the Beltway has been away for a few weeks. How nice to return to a fresh new celebrity mug shot -- this one courtesy of the state of Texas. I'm sure Democrats were crouched by their Blackberries and laptops hoping to see a Nick Notle-like shot of the former Republican Whip. How disappointed they must have been to see this:

This is DeLay's mugshot? This is how I would expect him to look if he just found out Barney Frank has AIDS. Where did the Texas authorities take this photo, at Glamour Shots? I know DeLay is trying to put a good spin on the fact that this is a mug shot, but come on -- try to tone it down a little bit. I'm not suggesting DeLay should go for the Nick Notle look, but how about something with a little less cheese. Oh, and if you missed the Notle mugshot -- here's a look. Folks, we need makeup in here right away!