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Mum on the Mideast?

"Beyond the principles involved, the White House had clearly calculated that it would have been more of a political mistake to sign the bill. Social conservatives, the heart of Mr. Bush's base, had demanded the president keep his promise to veto any measure that altered the careful compromise he articulated in 2001. With Mr. Bush's approval ratings hovering at about 40 percent, conservatives are more critical than ever to the president, and he cannot afford to arouse their ire."

The Chicago Tribune looks at Dr. Rove's role:

"When White House political adviser Karl Rove signaled last week that President Bush planned to veto the stem cell bill being considered by the Senate, the reasons he gave went beyond the president's moral qualms with research on human embryos. In fact, Rove waded into deeply contentious scientific territory, telling the Denver Post's editorial board that researchers have found 'far more promise from adult stem cells than from embryonic stem cells.'. . . .

"But Rove's negative appraisal of embryonic stem cell research--echoed by many opponents of funding for such research--is inaccurate, according to most stem cell research scientists, including a dozen contacted for this story."

There's still lots of chatter about the Bush/Merkel encounter. James Wolcott says it's no joking matter:

"Most of the commentary I've seen regarding President Bush's impromptu shoulder-rub/aborted massage of German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the G8 summit has treated the incident as a light, wacky divertissement, much like Bush's goofball attempt to make a dramatic exit from a press conf in China only to be thwarted by a locked door. Certainly there's something intrinsically comic about a freelance prowling masseur looking for flesh to knead. . . .

"Bush's behavior crosses more boundaries, and not just because the Leader of the Free World doesn't normally lay his playful hands on the opposite sex in his high-powered public forums. Put simply, what Bush did is a very odd way for a married man to behave under most circumstances, even odder under these...

"He wasn't giving Merkel a massage, he was taking possession of her, letting everybody know, "This little lady's mine." I wonder what Merkel's husband thought of Bush's handy familiarity. I can't imagine Laura Bush was too thrilled."

Tony Snow stiff-arms Helen Thomas at a White House briefing. Crooks and Liars has the transcript:

THOMAS: We have gone for collective punishment against all of Lebanon and Palestine. And what's happening -- and that's the perception of the United States.

SNOW: Well, thank you for the Hezbollah view, but I would encourage you. . . .

THOMAS: Nobody's accepting your explanation. What is it say, to call for. . . .


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