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Laura Bush's Disastrous Diplomacy
"'Kick ass!' Bush said. 'If somebody tries to stop the march to democracy, we will seek them out and kill them! We must be tougher than hell!' . . .
"'Stay strong! Stay the course! Kill them! Be confident! Prevail! We are going to wipe them out! We are not blinking.' . . .
"Fueled by images beamed by the Al-Jazeera television network, the administration quickly reversed course, stopping Operation Vigilant Resolve. Soon after, Coalition Provisional Authority administrator L. Paul Bremer dropped plans to capture or kill al-Sadr, even though the president had said during the April 7, 2003, meeting, 'It is essential he be wiped out,' according to the memoir. . . .
"Sanchez's nearly 500-page memoir, 'Wiser in Battle: A Soldier's Story,' takes the administration to task for a series of missteps that he says have made it impossible for America to leave Iraq. He wants a 9-11-style investigation into why the United States went to war in Iraq, and also said Bush's 'suspension' of the Geneva Conventions 'led to putting America on the path to torture.'"
William Arkin, blogging for washingtonpost.com, is unimpressed by this, as well as by the excerpt from Sanchez's book published by Time last week. Arkin writes: "So we are supposed to listen to the guy who presided over Iraq's implosion and Abu Ghraib?"
The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties is holding a hearing today to examine the executive branch's role in authorizing interrogation methods.
Avram Goldstein writes for Bloomberg: "The number of suicides among veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may exceed the combat death toll because of inadequate mental health care, the U.S. government's top psychiatric researcher said.
"Community mental health centers, hobbled by financial limits, haven't provided enough scientifically sound care, especially in rural areas, said Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland. He briefed reporters today at the American Psychiatric Association's annual meeting in Washington."
Arianna Huffington writes at her blog: "At a dinner party in Los Angeles not long after the 2000 election, I was talking to a man and his wife, both prominent Republicans. The conversation soon turned to the new president. 'I didn't vote for George Bush' the man confessed. 'I didn't either,' his wife added. Their names: John and Cindy McCain (Cindy told me she had cast a write-in vote for her husband).
"The fact that this man was so angry at what George Bush had done to him, and at what Bush represented for their party, that he did not even vote for him in 2000 shows just how far he has fallen since then in his hunger for the presidency. By abandoning his core principles and embracing Bush -- both literally and metaphorically -- he has morphed into an older and crankier version of the man he couldn't stomach voting for in 2000."
Howard Kurtz and Juliet Eilperin blog for The Washington Post: "Tucker Bounds, a spokesman for McCain, said 'It's not true, and I ask you to please consider the source.'
"Asked why Huffington would make up her story about McCain not voting for Bush, longtime McCain aide Mark Salter -- who has previously tangled with the Huffington Post -- ripped into her. 'Why would she make something up? Because she's a flake, and a poser, and an attention seeking diva. And that's on the record.'"
Karl Rove Watch
Wendy Victora writes in the Northwest Florida Daily News about a Republican Party fundraising breakfast held at a Fort Walton Beach restaurant on Saturday, with headliner Karl Rove: "Restaurant owner, Tom Rice, said Rove was personable and shook everyone's hands. He talked about how he still has lunch every week at the White House and shared insights into what life is like there, Rice said.
"He also talked about the current presidential race.
"'He figured that Barack Obama would probably be the Democratic candidate,' Rice said. '(Rove) is a strategist. (He said) it would be difficult for Hillary (Clinton) to get the numbers she would need.'"
Jay Tolson writes in U.S. News: "Is George W. Bush's presidency shaping up to be one of the worst in U.S. history? You hear the question being asked more and more these days. And more and more, you hear the same answer. With Iraq a shambles and trust in the administration declining, it is probably not surprising that 54 percent of respondents in a recent USA Today/Gallup survey said that history would judge Bush a below-average or poor president, more than twice the number who gave such a rating to any of the five preceding occupants of the White House, including Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, including Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter."
It's too soon to say for sure, Tolson writes, but to help out, U.S. News sizes up the competition, with a list of the ten worst past presidents.
Uno in the Oval
Maria Baran writes for the Belleville (Ill.) News-Democrat: "Uno the beagle celebrated his third birthday Monday morning by meeting President and Laura Bush at the White House.
"'Oh, my gosh!' exclaimed breeder and co-owner Kathy Weichert, of Belleville. 'It was thrilling to shake his hand and he gave us a hug.'
"The Bushes gave Uno a red, white and blue collar and lead as a gift for the dog, who earlier this year claimed the title of Best of Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. . . .
"During the visit, the beagle did not make any new doggie friends.
"The Bushes' well-known black Scottish terriers, Barney and Miss Beazley, are 'not very dog friendly -- terriers,' Weichert explained, so Uno did not meet them."
Deb Riechmann writes for the Associated Press about Jenna's wedding Saturday at the 1,600-acre Bush compound in Crawford: "Officially, the wedding is a private, family affair. The White House has issued no press releases, but the president and first lady have gradually dribbled out details about the nuptials Saturday at their 1,600-acre ranch in Crawford, Texas. . . .
"Doug Wead, a former aide to President George H.W. Bush and author of a book on presidents' kin, calls Jenna's ceremony 'the anti-Alice Roosevelt wedding.' Former President Theodore Roosevelt's daughter was married in 1906.
"'That wedding took place during a time of prosperity and peace; this one at a time of economic struggle and war,' Wead said. 'The Roosevelt family was outgoing, flamboyant; this is a private family. That was one of the most popular presidencies in American history. Even John Adams didn't go on Mount Rushmore, but Teddy Roosevelt went on Mount Rushmore. This is an unpopular presidency. Alice had no bridesmaids. Jenna has 14.'"
Late Night Humor
Conan O'Brien, via U.S. News: "Happy Cinco de Mayo. . . . And, of course, the President marked this occasion earlier today. President Bush said that Cinco de Mayo is an opportunity to recognize the strong ties of family, economy and culture that bind the United States and Mexico. That was nice. Yeah. Then the President said, 'Now, let's get back to building that fence.'"
Stuart Carlson on Bush's turn to the dark side.