Another great Bush administration moment.
In this morning's gaggle, <$NoAd$>Scott McClellan got asked whether the teleconference the president had with troops in Tikrit was scripted. Here's what he said ...
QUESTION: How were they selected, and are their comments to the president pre-screened, any questions or anything...
QUESTION: Not at all?
MCCLELLAN: This is a back-and-forth.
The soldiers, nine U.S. men and one U.S. woman, plus an Iraqi, had been tipped off in advance about the questions in the highly scripted event. Allison Barber, deputy assistant to the Secretary of Defense for internal communication, could be heard asking one soldier before the start of the event, "Who are we going to give that [question] to?"
TPM Reader TM checks <$NoAd$>in ...
What do you think of some of the speculation out there that Harry Reid suggested Harriet Miers as an effort to sabotage Bush politically? It makes a lot of sense to me - she's not very formidable, yet Reid knew Bush would like the idea of picking someone who's such a close ally/bootlicker (you pick). It's kinda like this: Say you have a colleague at work you can't stand and you know has terrible judgment. This colleague just bought a bunny suit and keeps telling everyone how he can't WAIT to find some occasion to wear it. So you sidle up to him and encourage him to wear it to the company's annual black-tie banquet. "Hey, buddy, I just want you to be happy. Would I steer you wrong?"
And watch the presidential ambitions swirl down the drain: Frist subpoenaed by the SEC (aka the Martha police).
Says the Post: "Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) has been subpoenaed to turn over personal records and documents as federal authorities step up a probe of his July sales of HCA Inc. stock, according to sources familiar with the investigation."
Actually, you know what he's thinking: If I knew this was gonna happen I never would have had to demean myself in front of those Justice Sunday whackjobs!
Life's a bitch.
Speaking of which, back to atoning.
I wonder if in his comments today about Harriet Miers the president hasn't finally brought his presidency to a sort of implosive harmonic convergence.
We are, needless to say, engaged in a vast, shambling and tragic occupation of Iraq, the nominal aim of which is to create a secular, rule-of-law-based democracy which would end the cycle of repression, fanaticism and violence which spilled onto America's shores four years ago.
At the same time, President Bush argues for Miers' confirmation neither on the basis of her 'judicial temperament' nor her judicial philosophy or ideology but because she is a staunch evangelical Christian.
The fact that many of the president's more theocratic supporters don't seem to believe him just adds a level of irony or entertainment for those of us still holding out for the Enlightenment tradition.
But doesn't the juxtaposition really show the game is up at some level?
A year ago, in light of one of White House's many wag-the-dog stunts, I noted "how truly important it is that we democratize the Middle East. Because once we have, some of them will be able to come back here and redemocratize us."
Perhaps the same goes for ending theocracy over there. Sooner the better, so they can bring modernity to us too.
Over at the blog of Reason Magazine, Editor Nick Gillespie has posted a list of how much each two-term president increased spending going back forty years. Specifically, the list measures increases in discretionary spending over five successive budgets, adjusted for inflation.
Here are the numbers ...
LBJ: 25.2% Nixon: -16.5% Reagan: 11.9% Clinton: -8.2% Bush: 35.2%
Now, clearly, this exercise means different things to Libertarians like the folks at Reason than it might to readers of this website.
But I think this only represents half the picture. And probably not the more important half.
There are enduring disagreements between the moderate right and moderate left in this country over the ideal size and scope of the federal government. But the truth is that the country can do fine with relatively small government or relatively large government so long as things don't get too out of hand in either direction. What it can't withstand for very long is a radical and growing disjuncture between spending and revenue, money out and money in.
That is the problem we face today. And that's why we're probably in for a long ten years as all of this hits the fan.
Pat Robertson on Republican senators who may not salute and stand at attention for Harriet Miers: "These so-called movement conservatives donât have much of a following, the ones that Iâm aware of. And you just marvel, these are the senators, some of them who voted to confirm the general counsel of the ACLU to the Supreme Court, and she was voted in almost unanimously. And you say, ânow theyâre going to turn against a Christian who is a conservative picked by a conservative President and theyâre going to vote against her for confirmation.â Not on your sweet life, if they want to stay in office."
Interesting snippet in Fineman's latest column: "I expect that any GOP 2008 hopeful who wants evangelical support â people like Sam Brownback, Rick Santorum and maybe even George Allen â will vote against Miers's confirmation in the Senate."
Annals of interesting coincidences.
I mentioned earlier that the assignment of new DOJ attorneys to the New Hampshire phone-jamming case -- particular a Public Integrity section lawyer -- may be tied the ever-expanding Abramoff investigation in DC.
Along those lines, we wanted to note two entries in the New Hampshire GOP's receipts ledger in the days just before the phone-jamming plan came off. $5000 a pop from two of Jack Abramoff's main piggy banks -- the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.