Book Tells Of Dissent In Bush's Inner Circle

Harriet Miers with John G. Roberts Jr., right, and an unidentified person in July 2005. A new book, "Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush," describes how Bush came to nominate Miers for the Supreme Court. (By Eric Draper -- White House Via Getty Images)
By Michael Abramowitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 3, 2007

Karl Rove told George W. Bush before the 2000 election that it was a bad idea to name Richard B. Cheney as his running mate, and Rove later raised objections to the nomination of Harriet E. Miers to the Supreme Court, according to a new book on the Bush presidency.

In "Dead Certain: The Presidency of George Bush," journalist Robert Draper writes that Rove told Bush he should not tap Cheney for the Republican ticket: "Selecting Daddy's top foreign-policy guru ran counter to message. It was worse than a safe pick -- it was needy." But Bush did not care -- he was comfortable with Cheney and "saw no harm in giving his VP unprecedented run of the place."

When Rove, President Bush's top political adviser, expressed concerns about the Miers selection, he was "shouted down" and subsequently muted his objections, Draper writes, while other advisers did not realize the outcry the nomination would cause within the president's conservative political base.

It was John G. Roberts Jr., now the chief justice of the United States, who suggested Miers to Bush as a possible Supreme Court justice, according to the book. Miers, the White House counsel and a Bush loyalist from Texas, did not want the job, but Bush and first lady Laura Bush prevailed on her to accept the nomination, Draper writes.

After Miers withdrew in the face of the conservative furor, Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. was selected and confirmed for the seat.

Roberts rejected Draper's report when asked about it last night.

"The account is not true," said Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg, after consulting with Roberts. "The chief justice did not suggest Harriet Miers to the president."

In recounting the Miers nomination and other controversies of the Bush presidency, Draper offers an intimate portrait of a White House racked by more internal dissent and infighting than is commonly portrayed and of a president who would, alternately, intensely review speeches line by line or act strangely disengaged from big issues.

Draper, a national correspondent for GQ, first wrote about Bush in 1998, when he was the Texas governor. He received unusual cooperation from the White House in preparing "Dead Certain," which will hit bookstores tomorrow. In addition to conducting six interviews with the president, Draper said, he also interviewed Rove, Cheney, Laura Bush, and many senior White House and administration officials.

Draper writes that Bush was "gassed" after an 80-minute bike ride at his Crawford, Tex., ranch on the day before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast and was largely silent during a subsequent video briefing from then-FEMA Director Michael D. Brown and other top officials making preparations for the storm.

He also reports that the president took an informal poll of his top advisers in April 2006 on whether to fire Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

During a private dinner at the White House to discuss how to buoy Bush's presidency, seven advisers voted to dump Rumsfeld, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, incoming chief of staff Joshua B. Bolten, the outgoing chief, Andrew H. Card Jr., and Ed Gillespie, then an outside adviser and now White House counselor. Bush raised his hand along with three others who wanted Rumsfeld to stay, including Rove and national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley. Rumsfeld was ousted after the November elections.

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