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Bubble Trouble

Snow: The New Partisan Attack Dog?

John Dickerson writes in Slate about two interviews held yesterday: "Rove talked to Hugh Hewitt , and Snow talked to Rush Limbaugh . Given Rove's reputation in the minds of his enemies and his bare-knuckle style of politics, you would expect his interview to be the more combative one. . . .

"Snow, on the other hand, has a job that requires maintaining an appearance of less overt partisanship. It's a good time to keep up this tradition, since he's the one who might have to articulate administration positions if there's a Democratic-controlled House or Senate. Prudence, then, would dictate restraint. No sense in giving the single-finger salute today when you're the administration figure who might have to offer the hand of bipartisanship tomorrow. If prudence didn't dictate a little adult behavior, then Chief of Staff Josh Bolten, a sensible fellow who has his eye on the days after the election, might demand it. Plus, Snow's comments are broadcast through official channels as a government document, so surely we would expect him to be the more the nuanced and careful of the two men.

"We would be silly to think so. 'You gotta wonder if they're a serious political party,' Snow said of the Democrats at the start of his interview with Limbaugh. Rove, when offered an opportunity to take a shot at John Kerry's 'botched joke,' became wrapped in nuance, willing only to make Kerry stand in for 'elements within the Democratic Party.' Snow bashed the whole party: 'Democrats tend to have a view of the military that is not always fully respectful and even when they say they're supporting them, they're undercutting them . . . constantly trying to undermine public confidence in that military by describing defeat what people on the ground see as hard-won victory."

Blogger Glenn Greenwald takes issue with several of Snow's assertions, and writes: "The Bush administration and the Rush Limbaugh Show have all but merged this year."

Khalizad to Resign

Anne Gearan writes for the Associated Press: "Zalmay Khalilzad, the plainspoken dealmaker and Republican insider who has won praise and criticism for attempts to broker Sunni political participation in Iraq's fragile government, is likely to quit his post as U.S. ambassador in Baghdad in the coming months, a senior Bush administration official said Monday."

Blogger Mark Kleiman writes: "I can think of four possible causes, none of them encouraging."

Detainee Watch

Neil A. Lewis writes in the New York Times: "The Bush administration's successful effort to have Congress eliminate the right of Guantanamo prisoners to challenge their detentions before federal judges is now moving toward what may be an epic battle in the courts. . . .

"The three-judge appeals court panel will have to decide whether the pending lawsuits brought by the 430 or so remaining detainees at Guantanamo should be thrown out, as the Bush administration has argued, or whether the new law is unconstitutional, as civil liberties groups have contended."

Torture Watch

Fox News reporter Steve Harrigan decided to see what waterboarding was like first-hand. There's video here .

Andrew Sullivan blogs: "[H]is conclusion is inescapable: 'As far as torture goes, at least in this controlled experiment, to me this seemed like a pretty efficient mechanism.'"

Media Matters has the transcript, and more.

Opinion Watch

Robert Novak writes in his Washington Post opinion column: "[T]he election has been nationalized around two standards that could not be more unfavorable to the GOP: an unpopular war and an unpopular president. That has generated a rising sense of panic in Republican ranks, with the fear that tomorrow's returns will be either bad or very bad for them. . . .

"A prominent Republican who asked me not to use his name said the last effective play by the White House came at the end of the summer when it defended its war policy. Then, in all seriousness, he proposed this course of action should have been taken by Bush: 'The president should go on a 2 1/2 -week vacation, and when he gets back, go right into the hospital for minor surgery. In other words, he should have disappeared.'"

From a New York Times editorial : "This election is indeed about George W. Bush -- and the Congressional majority's insistence on protecting him from the consequences of his mistakes and misdeeds. Mr. Bush lost the popular vote in 2000 and proceeded to govern as if he had an enormous mandate. After he actually beat his opponent in 2004, he announced he now had real political capital and intended to spend it. We have seen the results. It is frightening to contemplate the new excesses he could concoct if he woke up next Wednesday and found that his party had maintained its hold on the House and Senate."

Paul Krugman writes in his New York Times opinion column: "At this point, nobody should have any illusions about Mr. Bush's character. To put it bluntly, he's an insecure bully who believes that owning up to a mistake, any mistake, would undermine his manhood -- and who therefore lives in a dream world in which all of his policies are succeeding and all of his officials are doing a heckuva job. . . .

"In other words, he's the sort of man who should never have been put in a position of authority, let alone been given the kind of unquestioned power, free from normal checks and balances, that he was granted after 9/11. But he was, alas, given that power, as well as a prolonged free ride from much of the news media."

Frank Rich writes in his New York Times opinion column: "In retrospect, the defining moment of the 2006 campaign may well have been back in April, when Mr. Colbert appeared at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner. Call it a cultural primary. His performance was judged a bomb by the Washington press corps, which yukked it up instead for a Bush impersonator who joined the president in a benign sketch commissioned by the White House. But millions of Americans watching C-Span and the Web did get Mr. Colbert's routine. They recognized that the Beltway establishment sitting stone-faced in his audience was the butt of his jokes, especially the very news media that had parroted Bush administration fictions leading America into the quagmire of Iraq.

"Five months later, a video of Mr. Colbert's dinner speech is still a runaway iTunes hit and his comic contempt for Washington is more popular than ever. It's enough to give you hope that the voters may rally for reality on this crucial Election Day even as desperate politicians and some of their media enablers try one more time to stay their fictional course."

Those Nuclear Secrets

I didn't link on Friday to William J. Broad 's story in the New York Times, because I wasn't sure how much the White House was involved.

Broad wrote: "Last March, the federal government set up a Web site to make public a vast archive of Iraqi documents captured during the war. The Bush administration did so under pressure from Congressional Republicans who had said they hoped to 'leverage the Internet' to find new evidence of the prewar dangers posed by Saddam Hussein.

"But in recent weeks, the site has posted some documents that weapons experts say are a danger themselves: detailed accounts of Iraq's secret nuclear research before the 1991 Persian Gulf war. The documents, the experts say, constitute a basic guide to building an atom bomb.

"Last night, the government shut down the Web site after the New York Times asked about complaints from weapons experts and arms-control officials."

Since then, the Hullabaloo blog called my attention to this Weekly Standard article by Stephen F. Hayes .

Hayes wrote in March: "On February 16, President George W. Bush assembled a small group of congressional Republicans for a briefing on Iraq. Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley were there, and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad participated via teleconference from Baghdad. As the meeting was beginning, Mike Pence spoke up. The Indiana Republican, a leader of conservatives in the House, was seated next to Bush.

"Pence . . . [quoted] Abraham Lincoln: 'One of your Republican predecessors said, "Give the people the facts and the Republic will be saved." There are 3,000 hours of Saddam tapes and millions of pages of other documents that we captured after the war. When will the American public get to see this information?'

"Bush replied that he wanted the documents released. He turned to Hadley and asked for an update. Hadley explained that John Negroponte, Bush's Director of National Intelligence, 'owns the documents' and that DNI lawyers were deciding how they might be handled.

"Bush extended his arms in exasperation and worried aloud that people who see the documents in 10 years will wonder why they weren't released sooner. 'If I knew then what I know now,' Bush said in the voice of a war skeptic, 'I would have been more supportive of the war.'

"Bush told Hadley to expedite the release of the Iraq documents. 'This stuff ought to be out. Put this stuff out.' The president would reiterate this point before the meeting adjourned. And as the briefing ended, he approached Pence, poked a finger in the congressman's chest, and thanked him for raising the issue. When Pence began to restate his view that the documents should be released, Bush put his hand up, as if to say, 'I hear you. It will be taken care of.'"

Bush v. Plants

Reuters reports: "The construction of a helipad in Indonesia's famed botanical gardens for an upcoming visit by U.S. President George W. Bush will damage protected plants, an opposition party said on Tuesday."

Live Online

I'll be Live Online tomorrow at 1 p.m. E.T. Whatever will we talk about?

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