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Another Bush Backfire

"For the fourth consecutive month, Bush's approval rating remains at a career low. Thirty-three percent said they approve of the job he is doing, and 64 percent disapprove. Majorities have disapproved of Bush's job performance for more than 2 1/2 years. . . .

"Only 23 percent of those surveyed said they want to keep going 'in the direction Bush has been taking us."

Mukasey Watch

But despite the pervasive unpopularity of the president and his policies, he gets his way on the Hill, time and time again.

Dan Eggen and Paul Kane write in Saturday's Washington Post: "The nomination fight over attorney general nominee Michael B. Mukasey effectively came to an end yesterday, as two key Senate Democrats parted from their colleagues and announced their support for the former judge despite his controversial statements on torture.

"The orchestrated announcements by Sens. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) and Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) virtually guarantee that Mukasey will be approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, to be followed by his likely confirmation in the full Senate later in the month.

"The developments mark an important political victory for President Bush, who mounted a spirited and aggressive defense of Mukasey in recent days. They also underscore the pitfalls facing Democrats as the party struggles to stake out an independent policy on national security issues during a presidential campaign season."

Evan Perez and Jackie Calmes write in the Wall Street Journal: "The way in which Senate Democrats wavered and then consented to the confirmation of Michael B. Mukasey as attorney general reflects the party's broader struggle to make headway on its national-security agenda, despite President Bush's unpopularity. . . .

"Left-leaning groups and bloggers over the weekend renewed criticism that despite winning the House and Senate a year ago, Democrats were 'caving in' to the president."

Just More Kabuki?

Did the White House know all along that the Judiciary Committee vote was a safe bet?

Consider this from Eggen and Kane's story in The Post: "Schumer, who was the first senator to demand Gonzales's resignation and is well known for seeking the limelight, stayed unusually quiet over the past two weeks while he negotiated behind the scenes with the White House, according to sources familiar with his activities.

"One Democratic aide said Schumer gave the administration guidance about what Mukasey should include in a letter to Democrats on waterboarding. The letter included some of the elements but fell short in key areas, stoking the controversy, the aide said."

Regarding the Media

Tim Rutten writes in his Los Angeles Times column that newspapers "repeatedly described waterboarding as a 'harsh technique' or as a 'coercive measure.' It is neither of those things. It is torture, and the refusal to make that point each and every time this repugnant practice comes up is a form of rhetorical squeamishness indistinguishable from moral cowardice. . . .

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