There is much to discuss. Let’s begin:

1) The Libby Indictment: Yes, a big blow to the Bush White House - but not as big as feared for if Karl Rove had been indicted, the Administration would be today teetering on a total meltdown.

However, this ‘inside’ news from a former federal prosecutor: it is entirely possible that Rove has already been indicted - and that indictment has been sealed until Patrick Fitzgerald decides whether to unseal it or not. (This may have been one of the points he discussed during his secret 45-minute conversation with Federal Judge Thomas Hogan last Wednesday.) It is possible that Fitzgerald - with the Grand Jury running out - got the indictment but still believes he needs more corroboration. Thus he hopes to ‘flip’ Libby by threatening a “serious” jail term.

This Plame Case is far from over; the upcoming trial will be a circus - especially if Vice President Cheney is forced to testify. The White House will want to avoid that possibility - but they will also fear a ‘turned’ Libby for what he might reveal.

What a mess!!! And what a continuing distraction it will be - because the national news media will use it to hammer Bush daily.

2) Judge Samuel Alito for the US Supreme Court: we’re back now to Right vs. Left in the battle for the Court. No more conservative vs. conservative. We will now see if the Democrats have the guts to try a filibuster - and, if they do - if the GOP will invoke the ‘nuclear option’ and change the filibuster rules of the Senate for judicial nominees.

This is going to be a wild six weeks.

Prediction: Alito will be confirmed.

3) One week until election day: Virginia and New Jersey have their gubernatorial elections next Tuesday. The Democrats are leading - slightly - in both.

In Virginia, the GOP candidate, Jerry Kilgore, the Attorney General, has run a poor campaign - and just this week refused offers of help from the President. His polling must show that Bush is a net negative - just one year after handily winning Virginia.

In New Jersey, the moderate GOP candidate, Doug Forrester, is trailing slightly the incumbent US Senator Jon Corzine. Both have spent millions of their own dollars - and both are lackluster candidates.

Forrester has also eschewed White House help while Corzine has attacked Forrester for being a Bush clone (which he is not; he favors stem cell research and a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion).

Corzine recently had Bill Clinton in for an event and is featuring him in his commercials. Undoubtedly this is all part of building up chits for Hillary in 2008.

Prediction: while each campaign is a local affair, the national news media is going to portray GOP losses as rebukes of Bush. And they will say that these defeats (if the GOP loses) are precursors to the 2006 mid-term elections.

4) Gas: the unprecedented oil company third quarter profits guarantee that the safest place to be in politics this winter is in the anti-oil column. You will see politicians in both parties take on these profits - as they should.

Such profits prove a contention made in this space in September: events like Hurricane Katrina are mere excuses for greedy oil people - from the boardroom all the way down to the gas station owners - to jack up the price of gas at the pump virtually overnight. Why? Because they can get away with it!

Profits are a good thing in our system, but excessive profits at a time of national suffering are a disgrace. There is room for bulls and bears, but not hogs.

5) Cars: the Tokyo auto show now under way in Japan is featuring 6 new models of hydrogen cars. Some are fuel cells, and a few are just hydrogen burning. But they message here is clear: we are inevitably heading toward a new world of non-petroleum based vehicles in the near future. Hybrids will bridge the gap, but within several years, cars, trucks and busses will be powered by something other than internal combustion engines.

This is going to have a huge impact on the economy, the environment and our international relations in the Middle East.

The sooner we get off our addiction to Middle eastern oil the better.


Washington DC is in a total frenzy of anticipation over a news event that has not yet happened and may not happen: the indictment of President Bush’s top aide, Karl Rove, and Vice President Cheney’s top aide, Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby.

Mssrs. Rove and Libby - and other Bush Administration officials - have been on the hot seat because of the Grand Jury sitting on the case of the leak of Valerie Plame’s name in the Joseph Wilson -to-Niger case.

The prosecutor in this case - a Bush appointee names Patrick Fitzgerald - has unlimited investigative power - and he is using it.

Speculation is that he is looking for the following:

1) Charges of perjury;

2) Charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice (where two or more officials ‘coordinate’ their stories);

3) Charges - hard to prove though they may be - that officials knowingly ‘outed’ a covert CIA agent;

4) Charges - and this is the newest and hottest aspect of this still-to-unfold case - that officials illegally leaked to the media classified intelligence information in their effort to drum up support for the War in Iraq.

5) What role did Vice President Cheney and President Bush play in all of this? Were they kept in the dark? Or did they actually run this smear campaign using staffers as cutouts?

Mr. Fitzgerald was hired by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft to investigate Rove because Rove had three times helped run Ashcroft’s Missouri campaigns. So Ashcroft recused himself and hired the US Attorney in Chicago, Mr. Fitzgerald, to carry on a totally independent investigation. But Team Bush may have gotten more than they bargained for.

People who went to law school with Fitzgerald describe him as tenacious and tough - and determined to take anyone down - including high White House officials - if they seemed arrogant and dishonest.

Because he is free to ‘roam’ around this case and its tentacles, he has moved into the pre-war intelligence issue. Did the Administration leak classified information - a serious felony - in order to secure public support for the war in the fall of 2002?

An interesting clue: former Democratic Hill staffer - and now producer of WEST WING and a frequent panelist on The McLaughlin Group - Lawrence O’Donnell wrote this summer of the repeatedly unanimous federal appeals court judges’ opinions in support of Fitzgerald’s motions. In an intriguing reference, O’Donnell mentioned “18 pages of redacted (blacked out) lines.” Readers have wondered for months: “Just what are those 18 pages?”

Now, we can hazard a guess: they are 18 pages of examples of classified information that was given/leaked/shared with selected reporters in order to spin stories in favor of a pre-emptive invasion of Iraq.

If this happened, it is a serious, serious crime that makes a total mockery of the entire intelligence-classification system we have.

The grand jury expires on October 28. Legal beagles expect indictments by then.

Who knows what is going to happen?

One thing is certain: whatever inside-the-beltway so-called ‘experts’ think is almost always wrong!

But if Rove and Libby go down, it will indeed be yet another blow to an already crippled and deteriorating Bush presidency.


Some call it ‘Second Termitis’ - that affliction that seems to beset all re-elected presidents.

But that usually happens later in a president’s second term - and usually less severely.

Not since President Richard Nixon’s Watergate demise have we seen a presidency - just nine months after GW Bush’s Inauguration - literally collapse from within.

The latest AP/Ipsos poll - taken last week of 1000 adult voters - shows that only 28% believe the country is on the ‘right’ track; a whopping 66% believe we’re on the ‘wrong’ track.

And only 39% give the President a positive job approval rating - the lowest of his presidency in this poll.

But the big story in this poll is the cracking of George W. Bush’s once-solid base: he has lost 20% of white, evangelical men, more GOP women and doubts are creeping into the conservative wing of the Republican coalition.

Clearly the Harriet Miers decision - just one week ago - was a massive political blunder; forget her legal qualifications, we’re talking here about Bush’s political strength - or lack thereof.

Picking Miers has unleashed anger on the Right - a heretofore solid base for literally any Bush decision. And with that anger comes confusion, resentment - and the inevitable Bush Family Behavior: payback for any one who dares to criticize any Bush decision. (That is the genesis of the ongoing Plame Leak Investigation: Joseph Wilson’s Op-Ed piece criticizing Bush’s assertions in his State of the Union speech caused the White House to have to “pay him back” by attacking him. It’s the Bush Family credo.)

And if Bush starts attacking fellow conservatives, then the whole thing threatens to come tumbling down around him.

Underneath it all is the festering sore of an Iraq War that is going badly - despite the poppy-cock put out by Mr. Bush and his minions. Let me tell you a so-far untold story from this past summer:

A print reporter was given private time in Iraq with Centom Commander, General John Abizaid. The general spoke on complete background. He told this reporter that “we cannot win militarily here in Iraq. The best we can do is to hold it where it is until the Iraqis take over.”

Yet - in an eery reminder of Vietnam - General Abizaid did not say the same thing publicly to the Congress when he subsequently testified. On that occasion he painted - undoubtedly at the White House’s behest - a rosy picture of imminent military success and Iraqi military progress. (In fact, after 3 ½ years of our occupation there are barely 3000 Iraqi soldiers we deem capable of fighting for their country.)

If our military leaders are telling two different stories - one for public consumption and another in a CYA off-the-record session with a reporter - then we are fooling ourselves. This is a war that is a fraud from the top down. And it is our troops who are suffering for it.

From the first day, the entire Iraq Campaign has been a typical case of “who cares about the troops?” - from inadequate troop levels to insufficient body armor and vehicle armor.

Iraq is the single biggest factor eating away at the Bush presidency. Gas prices, illegal immigration and other issues are hurting, too, but Iraq is the one constant that is undercutting what is left of Bush’s credibility.

Prior to last week, the only people left who believed a word from GW Bush were conservatives; but the joke of Harriet Miers as “the most qualified person to be on the Supreme Court” has now begun to erode the president’s credibility on the Right.

And once he loses the conservatives, he is a total goner as president.

With three years and three months left in the Oval Office, Mr. Bush faces a bleak remainder of his presidency; so, too does the GOP which has lost much credibility with its fiscal profligacy, sloppy Katrina spending and panoply of scandals.

The Republican Party has - at the top - become lazy, arrogant, ego-driven, fat, dumb and self-satisfied.

It better get its act in gear - and soon - or else it will be destroyed - from within and from without.


After 48 hours, it is now possible to do a more thorough political analysis of the Bush choice of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court:

What does the choice of a heretofore unknown for the highest court in the land tell us about the Bush Administration?

Quite simply, this choice signals not only a sense of vulnerability on the part of Team Bush - what with dreadfully low poll ratings, GOP scandals in the Senate and House, a morass in Iraq and the ongoing disaster in our own Gulf - but also a miscalculation about its own GOP/conservative base.

For six years, Karl Rove’s political strategy has always been to re-inforce ‘the base’ - that 43% of the nation that is hard-core conservative.

Rather than try to expand that base - as Ronald Reagan did - Rove and Bush have been content to shore it up with hot-button issues along the way i.e. anti-Gay Marriage Amendments and referenda, presidential intervention for Terry Schiavo, constant talk about Creationsim vs. Evolution etc..

Along the way, the Bush White House has grown arrogant and cocky about the ‘professional conservatives’ - those who make a living off Right Wing causes through fundraising, lobbying, speech-making, writing and TV appearances as ‘Talking Heads.’ Many of these people are on the GOP payroll in one form or another - either as consultants or contract professionals - or indirectly through their perceived proximity to the White House.

These ‘professional conservatives’ have been on the Bush bandwagon since 1999; they have stuck with him all the way. So no wonder the White House figured they could count on them - no matter what?

But - alas - some of these ‘professionals’ are going public with their disappointment or disgust over the Miers pick. And it is this public ‘separation’ from the White House that is the most revealing aspect of the Miers selection:

It tells us that the Bush Presidency is deteriorating right in front of our eyes.

When a just -re-elected President hits 40% - or 38% two weeks ago - in the polls in his first year of his second term, he is in Big Trouble politically. And then when his own base starts to feel free to voice public discontent, then what is left?

Yes, the Miers pick is the President’s prerogative; and she may very well be confirmed.

But it is Mr. Bush’s fear of losing a contentious battle in the Senate combined with his beginning to lose his base that signals that this second term is going to be aimless, agenda-less failure.

The next three and one half years will be all reaction instead of positive action.

And when it is over, the Bush Family may very well have again - like the first President Bush did in 1992 - greatly dis-united the GOP and alienated the conservative base.


President Bush’s selection this morning is not surprising:

1) She is a woman - and it has been acknowledged that the replacement for the pioneer Sandra Day O’Connor would most likely also be a woman;

2) She is a devoted Bush loyalist - and, in a White House that lives and dies on loyalty over anything else - that is a huge mark in her favor;

3) She has not been a sitting judge, thus has almost no ‘paper trail’ with which to be picked apart by left-wing zealots up in the United States Senate;

4) It will be hard to pin down her views - and thus give ammo to the Chuck Schumers of the Senate - who are just pining to churn up the grass roots of the Democratic Party in a full-scale replay of the ugly and divisive Clarence Thomas debacle.

Now, let’s get right to the heart of the matter: abortion and Roe v. Wade:

The debate over abortion is really the one and only issue that the Left passionately cares about in these Supreme Court nominations.

Such is the state of affairs of the American Left that it has been reduced to devoting all its energy to this one issue.

They fear that a new ‘conservative’ court will in effect revoke Roe v. Wade and thus we will return to the days of illegal, ‘back-alley’ abortions. (Of course, that is not what would happen if Roe v. Wade was reversed; it would then be up to each state to make its own laws again on abortion.)

The Supreme Court is, in the end, a political institution that reflects the will of the people. Whether they would reverse Roe v. Wade is highly doubtful unless and until the clear majority of Americans felt that way.

Harriet Miers is not going to provide the Left with the ammo to ‘nail her,’ nor is she going to inspire the Right to ‘love her’ either. She is intentionally ambiguous - just like John Roberts was - so that she can make it through this now-horrible confirmation process.

A year ago President Bush was re-elected in a campaign where the Left constantly refrained, “If he gets a another term in the Oval Office he will appoint Supreme Court judges like Scalia and Thomas.”

Well, the American people - knowing that - re-elected him anyway!

They knew Mr. Bush was a conservative and would appoint conservative judges.

Now he has done it. And still the Left will squawk.

The Bush White House is ‘down’ these days - in the polls and in political capital.

Senate Majority Leader Frist is under a criminal inquiry; House Majority Leader Delay is under indictment; other GOP big shots are in ethical and legal trouble. Iraq has proven to be highly unpopular - and Katrina is a mess. Gas prices are souring people.

The White House needs a victory; and they can ill-afford another set-back that reveals weakness.

Thus this selection is aimed at one thing - and one thing only: getting a Bush nominee confirmed.

The White House hopes that such a victory will triumph a turn-around for a faltering first year of their second term.

That is the real explanationof the nomination of Harriet Miers.