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A Rebellion Around the Edges

Marc Sandalow writes in the San Francisco Chronicle: "After almost 1,100 days of war, 2,311 U.S. deaths, more than a quarter of a trillion dollars spent and no end of turmoil in sight, most Americans say the war was a mistake. . . .

"Yet Bush expresses no more doubt today than he did in March 2003, insisting that taking out Hussein has made America safer, no matter the sacrifice to the country or the damage to his presidency. . . .

" 'I don't blame the administration . . . for making mistakes. I blame them for when mistakes are made and identified, not changing course,'' said Rep. Ellen Tauscher, [D-Calif.] who voted in October 2002 to give Bush the authority to wage war, and now says she regrets her vote.

" 'What worries me more than anything is the fatal disconnect this president exhibits every day. That arrogance and hubris has cost us lives of good people, and I don't see it stopping,' Tauscher said."

David Gregory reports on the NBC Nightly News: "Iraq, says Republican pollster Bill McInturff, has enveloped the Bush presidency.

" 'And no matter what the president says, if events on the ground don't match what he hopes to have happen,' says McInturff, 'these numbers about Iraq will continue to get softer or worse.' . . .

"White House aides admit that a month-long effort to sell ideas from the State of the Union address has been lost to bad news.

" 'What history suggests, and you look at Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson with Korea and Vietnam,' says presidential historian Michael Beschloss, 'is that when a president has an unpopular war, until people feel better about it, they're not going to listen to him.' "

From a USA Today editorial: "The Iraq invasion, far from being a success, provides a cautionary tale about just why strike-first needs to remain, as in the past, the final option. In Iraq, it vaulted to the top of the agenda. Key administration figures -- notably Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld -- had been itching for a war with Iraq long before 9/11. After the terror attacks, they asserted links between Saddam and al-Qaeda where there was none. . . .

"In Iraq, the Bush Doctrine has been much like that Wild West dictum: Shoot first, ask questions later. Now it's time to return pre-emption to its proper place in U.S. foreign policy: for use only when the threat is imminent, the intelligence is bulletproof, and the use of military action is the last resort, preferably with allies on board. Then make sure you have a plan for what to do next."

Costly Travel

Rep. Henry Waxman and the minority staff of the House government reform committee yesterday released a report showing that taxpayers pay over 95 percent of the cost of flights by the president and vice president for campaign-related events. "Using figures from 2002, the last time the President and Vice President traveled on behalf of others in a nonpresidential election cycle, the report projects that taxpayers will spend over $7 million in 2006 on presidential and vice presidential political travel."

As far as I can tell, not a single news outlet picked up this story this morning.

Censure Watch

Scott Shepard writes for Cox News Service: "U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold's effort to censure President Bush has sent his fellow Democrats scurrying for political safety, but a poll released Thursday suggests nearly half of Americans favor such a move.

"A poll by the nonpartisan American Research Group found that 46 percent of Americans support censuring Bush for authorizing wiretaps of Americans without obtaining court orders, as part of the administration's effort to fight terrorism."

Here are the poll results.

The poll shows only somewhat less support for impeachment, with 42 percent in favor and 49 percent opposed.

Pollster Dick Bennett tells blogger Taegan Goddard Wire: "Respondents view censure and impeachment differently as 21% of those who favor censure oppose impeachment, while 12% of those who oppose censure favor impeachment."

So, if I've done my math right, that means 51 percent of the American public support either censure or impeachment.

The same certainly can't be said of Congress.

Feingold held a press conference yesterday to defend his proposal of the censure resolution.

"It seems to me appropriate, when the spin machines are out there and people are using various language, to come out and reiterate my reasons for doing this," he said. "I think that the press decided immediately that somehow this was a bad thing for Democrats and a good thing for conservatives. The facts don't bear it out. You don't have the polls to prove it."

Jeff Zeleny writes in the Chicago Tribune: "Democrats, who have benefited politically from Bush's troubles in Iraq and have started to make inroads on Bush's signature issue of national security, fear that Feingold's measure goes too far and could alienate centrist voters. Criticizing Bush is one thing, they worry, but a move to humiliate the commander in chief could make them look mean, out of touch and perhaps irresponsible--not to mention energizing the Republican base. . . .

"When asked about the censure resolution, House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) offered a glimpse Thursday into the criticism some Democrats fear if the issue is pursued. He delivered a stinging criticism of Feingold, saying: 'Sometimes you begin to wonder if he's more interested in the safety and security of the terrorists as opposed to the American people.' "

E. J. Dionne Jr. writes in his Washington Post opinion column: "Democrats, unlike Republicans, have yet to develop a healthy relationship between activists willing to test and expand the conventional limits on political debate and the politicians who have to calculate what works in creating an electoral majority.

"For two decades, Republicans have used their idealists, their ideologues and their loudmouths to push the boundaries of discussion to the right. In the best of all worlds, Feingold's strong stand would redefine what's 'moderate' and make clear that those challenging the legality of the wiretapping are neither extreme nor soft on terrorism."

David Addington Watch

Ron Hutcheson of Knight Ridder Newspapers takes a stab at profiling an unwilling subject: "Most people have never heard of David Addington, but he's been at the center of nearly every controversy shaking the White House.

"President Bush's eavesdropping program, the so-called torture memo, the Guantanamo Bay detention center, the administration's penchant for secrecy - all bear his fingerprints. Addington's influence is especially remarkable because he doesn't work for Bush, he works for Vice President Dick Cheney."

India Watch

Dafna Linzer writes in The Washington Post: "Bush administration officials said yesterday that they expect months of negotiations with Congress over a nuclear cooperation deal in the works with India but asked lawmakers to begin changes now to U.S. laws to accommodate a future agreement. . . .

"Republicans and Democrats have hailed White House efforts to improve U.S.-India relations less than a decade after the two nations were estranged over India's nuclear ambitions. But some in Congress are concerned about the agreement, which would provide U.S. nuclear power assistance to India while allowing the country to substantially step up its nuclear weapons production."

Scooter Libby Watch

Pete Yost writes for the Associated Press: "The CIA leak case of I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby may be heading for a new battle between the news media and the courts, the second such confrontation triggered by the Valerie Plame affair.

"Lawyers for Libby are casting a wide net for information from news organizations for his upcoming criminal trial, subpoenaing documents from The New York Times, Time magazine and three reporters, including NBC correspondent Tim Russert. . . .

"The subpoenaed reporters and news organizations have until April 7 to turn over the material or challenge the subpoenas before U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, who will preside at Libby's trial scheduled for next January."

A Cabinet Change

Peter Baker and Juliet Eilperin write in The Washington Post: "President Bush named Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne as the new secretary of the interior yesterday, choosing a popular Western Republican with Washington experience and a disputed environmental record to oversee the nation's parks and public lands.

"If confirmed, Kempthorne would succeed Gale A. Norton, who announced her resignation this month at a time when her department is tied up in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal."

Here's the transcript of Bush's announcement.

Fearless Headliner

Bush was the headliner at a big Republican fundraiser last night.

The Associated Press reports: "President Bush delivered a partisan pep talk Thursday night to Republicans who may be jittery about midterm elections while his approval rating is at an all-time low.

" 'We don't fear the future,' Bush told donors who contributed $8 million Thursday night to support Republican House candidates. 'We welcome it.' "

Here's the text of his speech. Bush also said: "We believe we should not fear the future, but we should shape the future" and "Ours is the party that can see into the future. We don't fear it, we welcome it, because we intend to continue to lead."

It Lives!

Richard B. Schmitt writes in the Los Angeles Times: "A White House civil liberties panel created more than a year ago to monitor the effects on ordinary citizens of the war on terrorism took its first significant action this week.

"It met."

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