Tuesday, April 3

Dowd Defection only the first crack in the Dam?

Following the dramatic defection of Matthew Dowd from the Koolaid Kamp of closest Bush supporters which I diaried about yesterday, U.S. News and World Report has a story that this just might be the beginning of a far more extensive mass exodus of the Bush faithful among Congressional Republicans.
Dowd's defection is causing Republican insiders to wonder whether this is the start of a larger rebellion against Bush by his former supporters. GOP insiders say this could easily happen among GOP members of Congress on the most important issue of the day: Iraq. If Bush's current buildup of combat troops fails to demonstrate strong progress by late summer, it's very possible that Republicans in the Senate and House will give up on the war effort and join Democrats in voting for a timetable for withdrawal.

Is this just wishful thinking and what does it mean for Bush's Veto threats?

Dowd's rebuke of the President's Iraq policy was certainly harsh.
He criticized the president as failing to call the nation to a shared sense of sacrifice at a time of war, failing to reach across the political divide to build consensus and ignoring the will of the people on Iraq. He said he believed the president had not moved aggressively enough to hold anyone accountable for the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and that Mr. Bush still approached governing with a “my way or the highway” mentality reinforced by a shrinking circle of trusted aides.
These are claims that have been echoed by Paul O'Neill, Bush's first term Treasury Secretary and others as Ron Suskind reported back in 2004.
"Just in the past few months," [Bruce Bartlett ormer policy advisor for Ronald Reagan] said, "I think a light has gone off for people who've spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he's always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do."


The disdainful smirks and grimaces that many viewers were surprised to see in the first presidential debate are familiar expressions to those in the administration or in Congress who have simply asked the president to explain his positions. Since 9/11, those requests have grown scarce; Bush's intolerance of doubters has, if anything, increased, and few dare to question him now. A writ of infallibility - a premise beneath the powerful Bushian certainty that has, in many ways, moved mountains - is not just for public consumption: it has guided the inner life of the White House.

This tracks quite well with what has been stated by Dowd.
“I really like him, which is probably why I’m so disappointed in things,” he said. He added, “I think he’s become more, in my view, secluded and bubbled in.
Those who know Bush, I mean know Bush well have clearly seen his intractable side up close. Thus far, many of them have simply been engaging in an elaborate self-delusion about just how out of touch and clueless this President has been to the actual needs of the country and more importantly the needs of the troops.

He's so blind to this he's even ordered that wounded soldiers back into the fight. From Crooks and Liars.

The flag-waving chickenhawks can dish out all the propaganda they want, but let's face it - George Bush is gutting our military, hurting our soldiers and putting our country at risk. This is some scary stuff, folks. Our military is stretched so thin they're forced to send wounded soldiers back into battle, extend their tours of duty and have no choice but to once again cut short their leave time.
Today the President again renewed his threats to Veto the emergency defense appropriations bill passed recently by House and Senate which includes timelines and a pull-out plan for the bulk of U.S. troops claiming that...
This morning at his Rose Garden press conference, President Bush highlighted this new gambit, saying it has been 57 days since he sent Congress his funding request. If Congress fails to act soon, Bush said, “the price of that failure will be paid by our troops and their loved ones.
This despite the fact that previous supplemental defense bills have taken 86 Days in 2005 and 105 days in 2006 to be approved by Congress. Meanwhile Congressional Republicans have pledged to support the president's Veto.
“In a letter sent to the White House on Monday, House GOP members assured President Bush that they would support his decision to veto the emergency supplemental spending bill. ‘We are greatly concerned about the extraneous and excessive non-security related funds contained within the Global War on Terror supplemental spending bill currently under consideration in the Congress,’ the letter read. ‘If you choose to veto this measure over this spending, we will sustain your veto.’
The argument that the bill is filled with "Pork" is a spurious one as Kargo X has pointed out.
* 6.7 billion in to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. That includes aid for housing, public infrastructure funding, and aid to Gulf Coast commercial fishermen.
* 4.2 billion in disaster aid for farmers wiped out or hurt by drought and flood. This includes aid to dairy farmers, spinach producers, and peanut growers.
* 2 billion for port, airline, rail, and mass transit security.
* 750 million for the health insurance of American children living in poverty.
So basically Bush and the Republicans are threatening to veto a bill that provides our troops with adequate armor and rest while they remain in harms way, pushes the Iraqis to take serious steps to seek a political solution to resolve the lingering violence, leaves a sufficient force in place to fight al Qaeda, provides for much needed Homeland Security issues such as improving protection of our ports, airlines and railways - and finally begins to address the massive problems left behind by Bush's massive failure to respond during Hurricane Katrina.

Bush's veto threatens all of this, and to hear him state it would place the troops currently in Iraq and Afghanistan in a dangerous, untenable position.

This might be why Sens. Feingold and Reid have responded to Bush's threats by upping the ante with an even more aggressive pull-out bill.
“The bill requires the President to begin safely redeploying U.S. troops from Iraq 120 days from enactment, as required by the emergency supplemental spending bill the Senate passed last week. The bill ends funding for the war, with three narrow exceptions, effective March 31, 2008.” Reid states, “If the President vetoes the supplemental appropriations bill and continues to resist changing course in Iraq, I will work to ensure this legislation receives a vote in the Senate in the next work period.”
In the midst of all this high-stakes brinksmanship, will Dowd's defection begin a gradual tide of more and more Congres-rats running from the ship?

If this is any indication, the exodus may have already begun via Crooks.
Today's rat jumping off the sinking ship is Vic Gold, a personal pal of Lynne Cheney's who spills the beans to the Washington Post. Actually all the beans are coming in his soon-to-be-published (this month) book, Invasion of the Party Snatchers: How the Holy-Rollers and the Neo-Cons Destroyed the GOP.

Until then we'll just have to be satisfied with what Gold, a close associate of Bush's father and a true believer from the Barry Goldwater days of conservatism, had to say to the Post:
"For all the Rove-built facade of his being a 'strong' chief executive, George W. Bush has been, by comparison to even hapless Jimmy Carter, the weakest, most out of touch president in modern times," Gold writes. "Think Dan Quayle in cowboy boots."

Gold is even more withering in his observations of Cheney. "A vice president in control is bad enough. Worse yet is a vice president out of control."

For Gold, Cheney brings to mind the adage of Swiss writer Madame de Stael, who wrote, "Men do not change, they unmask themselves." Cheney has a deep streak of paranoia and megalomania, Gold suggests — but he says he did not see it at first.

He was hiding who he really was," Gold says. "He was waiting for an opportunity."
Eventually the drip of inner-circle defectors may turn into a virtual torrent as the very next one appears as if the next one is going to be George "Slam Dunk" Tenet himself.
We're just a month away from what could be the biggest storm yet over who knew what before 9/11 and about those weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, as former CIA Director George Tenet finally tells of those troubled days. We hear vaguely that in At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA, out April 30, Tenet takes responsibility for intelligence shortcomings but also isn't shy about naming officials in the Bush and Clinton administrations who share in the blame.

As many have in the past, Tenet is sure to hit the talk show circuit including stints on Meet the Press, Daily Show, Colbert and possibly even O'Reilly to promote his book - and if the revelations are a stunning as promised All Hell Just Might Bust Loose for the Bush Administration.


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