Friday, October 14, 2005

All the president's friends

Isn't it funny that two key choices in Bush's political life, he turned to the trusted person who was supposed to be vetting the candidates for him? Dick Cheney, remember, headed up the VP pick selection committee. For Miers, at least she was modest enough to not suggester herself like Cheney sorta did. Rather, it was Andy Card, according to the Journal. Card, that old GM lobbyist, pushed for Miers the whole time and got her underling--who had only been at the job for a short while--to vet her behind her (and everyone else's) back.

Sure enough, the results were self-interested and shoddy. Maybe the B team is indeed operating the White House these days, even that Karl and Scooter have themselves to worry about. If this is true, than it wasn't Laura that pushed this pick like I thought but Andy Card, who has taken a pretty low profile in the past 5 years until recently. Or maybe this is Rove's sliming of Card, who has been taking heat for all the bad things happening to Bush these days.

Maybe the White House is canibalizing itself and seting its own hounds on the "B-team." This is what happens when you don't listen to anyone outside the walls of the White House, the insiders becomes the only critic that can really destroy you.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Laura comes out swinging (with help)

Thought my conservatives-are-sexists charge was over the top? What if First Lady Laura Bush says it on the Today Show? Of course, she only said that it's "possible" not fact like I claimed. But how about Eddie Gillespie, once RNC chair and one of the President's top men on the Sumpreme Court vetting team? Ed "raised the sexism issue in a private meeting with conservatives last week, participants said, prompting hot denials that caused Gillespie to say he was speaking generally, not referring to anyone in the room. Since then, other Republican backers of the nominee have raised the possibility that Miers's sex is causing her to be judged by a harsher standard."

Of course, that didn't sit too well with conservatives, who don't like to be called out. "It is striking to me they are spending less time explaining the merits of Harriet Miers and more time . . . using liberal talking points to criticize the critics," William Kristol of the Weekly Standard said. "I think it is going to backfire." Did I just hear Kristol say that the White House is using Liberal talking points? The only worse epithet he could have used against Bush was to say he was acting Clintonian. Jonah Goldberg of the National Review's blog (another super conservative rag) echoed Kristol's sentiments, calling the sexism charge as "horribly disappointing and the sort of thing I normally expect from left-wingers."

This food fight just keeps getting better and better. Appearantly GOP Judiciary staffers are rebelling as well.
"Everybody is hoping that something will happen on Miers, either that the president would withdraw her or she would realize she is not up to it and pull out while she has some dignity intact," a lawyer to a Republican committee member said.

It sounds like they don't want Bush's Senate henchmen to go after them, but Colburn and Brownback's staff are pissed.

"You could say there is pretty much uniform disappointment with the nomination at the staff level," another Republican on the committee staff said. "It is clear there is quite a bit of skepticism, and even some flashes of hostility." Another Republican aide close to the committee said, "I don't know a staffer who approves of this nomination, anywhere. Most of it is outright hostility throughout the Judiciary Committee staff." ...
"I think those staffers, like anybody else, have a right to their opinions and to express them," [Specter] said. "Senators will make independent judgments. You have some pretty strong staffers on the committee, but you have got some stronger senators."

Maybe it is Specter's staffers after all, as Ed Kilgore thinks. "Maybe the White House's well-known injunctions to Specter to get along better with conservatives are producing some unintended and ironic consequences." quoth Ed.

The plot thickens.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Merkle Christmas

Germans love to call their governing coalition by their colors: Red and Blue for SPD and CDU/CSU. Previously there was a Christmas coaliton: SPD and the Greens. Some were hoping for a stoplight coalition: SPD, Greens, and FDP (yellow liberals). But the FDP said no to that. Instead, it ended up being a Blue Red one. I don't know a color analogy for this grand coalition.

The whole thing was quite interesting to me as a German-speaker and fan of the country and the people. Personally, I think their social welfare net was almost too good. I met people that weren't in any hurry to get jobs since they were still earning most of the money they was before. Unemployment in the East has been stuck at high levels for about 15 years now and Schroeder clearly couldn't solve the problems.

Schroeder staged an amazing comeback for sure, but his claim that he got to be chancelor still was incredible and fell through. One wonders what will happen to him and why in the world he decieded to push for the election in the first place.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Miers than meets the eye

Today before I went to church, I had the chance to watch a bit of movement conservative Sen. Sam Brownback "vs." Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer. Schumer said nothing that interesting or innovative, except adopting a blogger line that James Dobson should testify before the committee about what he knows about Miers. The real news was what Brownback said, since he and Sen. Tom Colburn could conceivably vote against Miers in the judiciary committee and seriously embarrass the president. Brownback and the social conservatives that he represents are pissed not just because they weren't consulted but because they wanted a fight over Abortion and Gay Marriage and other issues. They believe that America will be on their side. Personally, I would enjoy watching them go down in flames, especially Sen. Colburn who cried crocodile tears about the divisiveness that is tearing this country apart at Roberts' hearings (when he wasn't filling out his crossword puzzle).

But another thing that really gets the conservatives upset is that Laura Bush picked this nominee. They both went to SMU, I don't know if their times were contemporaneous. But Laura has always been distrusted despite coming from a true Southern family, and not a Yankee aristocratic one like Bush. In social circles, Miers knew Laura before she helped Dubya keep his duck blind. Miers has been loyal to the Bush family, but not to the movement of conservatism. Conservatives have been waiting for this moment, believing the country is ready to go backwards on every conceivable social progress of the 1960s and 1970s.

Interestingly, conservatism is not some generational thing like Gay marriage is. People of all ages firmly believe that abortion (and sometimes even the Pill) is murder.

But does the fact that Miers is Laura's pick say something about the sexism of the conservative movement? Most social conservatives come from male dominated religions. It was the sexual revolution more than the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s that conservatives still fight against. Maybe some don't like integration secretly, but they don't feel nearly as comfortable sharing it as they do condemning the sexual conduct or perceived conduct of women and gay men. Straight men can have as much sex as they want how they want it, although conservatives would prefer it be only with his wife. At least that is how it seems given the scandals of the televangelists.

There is more going on here than a fight over who gets consulted, it is about who gets to make the choice, and who really has the power. That is what irked them about the Clintons the most, that Bill was perfectly happy to let Hillary be his equal, or even superior.