Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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I'll be talking about this more in my new column in The Hill, which will be out later this evening. But with the nomination today of White House Domestic Policy Adviser Margaret Spellings as Education Secretary (see her bio) the pattern is now unmistakably clear. As was the case with with Gonzales and Rice, President Bush is transposing his White House staff out to head their analogous federal departments and agencies.

Gonzales goes from White House Counsel to Attorney General; Rice goes from NSC to State; Spellings goes from Domestic Policy Advisor to Education Secretary.

Each of them defined mainly by their loyalty to President Bush.

As we wrote earlier, the shift is not toward right, left or center, but toward more direct White House control and the silencing of dissident voices in the civil service.

From Jonathan Kaplan's piece in The Hill on the House GOP's <$NoAd$> proposed DeLay rule ...

Republicans have used Democrats’ ethical lapses, including a check-kiting scandal at the House bank, to their political advantage. In 1987, then-Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) told The Washington Post: “[You] now have a House where it is more dangerous to be aggressive about honesty than it is to be mildly corrupt. … We have in Wright, [Majority Leader Tom Foley (D-Wash.)] and Coelho a third generation of Democratic leaders, the first that has never served in a minority. … You now have a situation where I think people feel almost invulnerable.”

Cantor said, however, that by inoculating DeLay in the present case the Republicans will not lose the moral high ground gained by instituting the rule in the first place.

“That line of reasoning [accepts] that exercise of the prosecutor in Texas is legitimate,” he said.

Ye olde rule of law line of reasoning. Of course.

House Republicans embrace new pro-crime agenda!

WaPo:"House Republicans were contemplating changing their rules in order to allow members indicted by state prosecutors to remain in a leadership post, a move designed to benefit Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) in case he is charged by a Texas grand jury that has indicted three of his political associates, GOP leaders said today."

Surely but one of many Actonian moments to come.

A new site to check out: The Daou Report, a running round-up of what's on all the blogs, left, right and center.


Ed Kilgore comes up with the one sure way, and perhaps the only way, for Arlen Specter to hold on to the Judiciary gavel.

Convert to Christianity ...

About the only thing I can think of that would do the trick is for Specter to dramatically announce a conversion: no, not just to Movement Conservatism, or to the views of the Right to Life Committee, but to Christianity. Imagine the cries of joy that would ensue in Virginia Beach and Colorado Springs and other precincts of the theocratic Right! It would be like that scene in The Apostle when Billy Bob Thornton succumbed to the Call just as he was preparing to bulldoze Robert Duvall's church! Victory is mine! Victory is mine!

I had a hard time resisting reprinting the whole post. See it here.

WaPo painfully coded and/or tortured lede watch ...

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's resignation announcement Monday evoked a mixed international reaction of personal sympathy, political disappointment and intense concern over whether his replacement will be another moderate or a hard-line ideologue.

Does that reaction sound 'mixed'?

President Bush's reelection evoked a mixed Democratic reaction of bitter disappointment, insensible depression and sheer terror.

Another mixed reaction.

Got any others?

So is Bush moving to the right or the center in term two?

Wrong metric. He's moving to exert greater control.

Look at the pattern.

Neither Ms. Rice nor Mr. Gonzales are the neo-cons' or the conservatives' choice for their respective offices-to-be. In each case they're acceptable; but no more.

What distinguishes each is their connection to the president, their loyalty and their fealty. Neither has any base in the city or standing anywhere else absent their connection to him. And in appointing them he has placed the State Department and the Justice Department under his direct and unmediated control as surely as the various members of the White House staff already are.

Which is certainly a good thing since if there is one thing this president sorely needs it is more yes-men.

Chump watch ... (from The Times of London)

JACQUES CHIRAC dealt a blow to Tony Blair’s attempt to heal the wounds between the US and Europe last night by saying that the Prime Minister had won nothing for supporting the war against Iraq. As Mr Blair used a keynote speech to present Britain as a “bridge across the Atlantic”, President Chirac doubted whether anyone could play the “honest broker”. Speaking before he visits London on Thursday, he said that it was not in the nature of this Administration to return favours.

Mr Blair suffered another setback when Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State and the administration figure most trusted by Europe, resigned. There were doubts over whether his successor, possibly Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Adviser, would be as accommodating.

M Chirac, speaking to British journalists, including The Times, soon after General Powell’s announcement, revealed that he had urged Mr Blair to demand the relaunch of the Middle East peace process in return for backing the war.

“Well, Britain gave its support but I did not see anything in return. I’m not sure it is in the nature of our American friends at the moment to return favours systematically.”

I'm not sure poodle is the word anymore. <$NoAd$>And what's with giving poodles a bad name?

Is it really a paradox?

The lede from a piece in tomorrow's Post ...

Condoleezza Rice, who will be named as Colin L. Powell's replacement as early as today, has forged an extraordinarily close relationship with President Bush. But, paradoxically, many experts consider her one of the weakest national security advisers in recent history in terms of managing interagency conflicts.

I'm gonna assume there was a smirk on someone's face.