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Monday, July 09, 2007

A Bad Week Ahead for Bush

Scooter Libby's commutation is working out about as well for the White House as you might expect. For a president already no more popular than a swift kick in the head, an action with such predictable negative consequences can only be seen as an act of desperation.

The war's been going south -- along with public support for it -- for years now, the Bush administration has been the subject of scandal after scandal for nearly as long, Congress has changed dramatically, and Dick Cheney seems to have finally snapped. On top of all this, it looks like the White House is coming into a real bad week.

In a story titled Democrats have daggers drawn for Bush, Agence France-Presse reports:

With daggers drawn for a weakened White House, congressional Democrats return from a short recess this week plotting to further undermine President George W. Bush's waning political sway.

Even as Bush's signature immigration reform bill was strangled in the Senate last month, Democratic leaders were mapping out new misery for a president beset by rock-bottom poll ratings, the three bloodiest months for US troops in Iraq since the war began in 2003 and a fraying Republican support base.

Nearly half a dozen Republicans Senators recently broke ranks with Bush urging him to change course in Iraq.

Bush faces a battle of subpoenas related to the big attorney purge. The White House is claiming executive privilege and Congress doesn't seem to be buying it. Who would?

On other fronts, the Senate may pull in some big guns over Libby's commutation.

Raw Story:

During an interview broadcast Saturday on CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and ranking Republican panel member Sen. Arlen Specter suggested that US attorney Patrick Fitzgerald may be called to testify about his prosecution of former vice presidential aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

"Do you have a problem, Senator Leahy, with anything the president decided in terms of the legality of what he did?" Blitzer asked the Democratic senator regarding Bush's controversial decision to commute Libby's two-and-a-half year federal prison sentence.

Leahy responded, "The president has a constitutional right or has the constitutional power to commute sentences of anybody he wants. I wish he had shown more constitutional responsibility. Just as I was critical of some of the pardons by President Clinton, former President Bush or President Reagan, I've said they have the power to do it, but I didn't think they used good judgment."

The problem for the White House here is that Fitzgerald, as a witness, can testify to evidence he would've left out of his arguments in court. His personal conclusions as to the truthfulness of Libby's testimony and his opinions of who may be responsible for the leaking of Valerie Plame's name to the press are open game. There is no such thing as inadmissability in a Senate hearing.

I'm afraid that Agence France-Presse's estimation of the sharpness of dem's daggers may err on the honed side. We've seen dems cave in to Bush on the war funding fight -- a fight I'll say was impossible to lose until the day I die -- so we know that congressional Democrats' worst enemy is their fear of being seen as partisan. But, if the Valerie Plame case, the supreme lousiness of the Iraq war, the attorney purge, warrantless wiretapping, and Dick Cheney's assertion that he represents a previously unknown fourth branch of government are all partisan issues, then reality has a liberal bias. Democrats need to find their damned spines and fight the good fight for their country.

Everything seems to be coming to a head. It's entirely possible for all of this to run out of steam, but that will only happen if it's allowed to happen. Impeachment's in the air -- John Conyers came just short of threatening it on This Week with George Stephanopoulos yesterday. Polls show more than half would support impeaching Cheney and it's a statistical tie on Bush.

Here's my question; if nothing the President has done so far warrants impeachment, then what the hell does? How many crimes does this White House have to commit before impeachment can't be ignored? Forget misdemeanors, we've got high crimes -- and plenty of them.

As I said, though. This is going to require that Democrats evolve a backbone. The polls are good for it, but I'd argue that even if they weren't, impeachment would be long overdue. What's popular and what's just aren't always the same thing.

It's going to be a bad week for Bush, but it's been a bad handful of years for America.


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