There is a cancer on the Presidency

Think I’m crazy for yesterday’s post on IMPEACHMENT?  Hot off the blogs and wires just today:

Andrew Card’s disquisition on Harriet Miers and constitutional law, pointer thanks to Laura Rozen at (my daily read along with the WSJ and NYT).  Laura calls out coverage by Harold Meyerson in a TAPPED account of a talk by Andrew Card about Ms. Miers’ qualifications, delivered last night at the Hudson Institute in front of Robert Bork among other right wingnut luminaries.

According to Meyerson’s account of Andrew’s talk:

As White House chief-of-staff, he [Card] found the most intriguing article, he said, to be Article II, which established the presidency and the executive branch. Miers, he continued, understood Article II as well, and would defend it "when challenged by those given the power to challenge it by Article I [i.e., the Congress] and Article III [i.e., the courts]."

[…] At minimum, he suggested that Miers would be the staunchest proponent of executive power over that of the other two branches that the Court had seen in a very long time.

If this isn’t from the horse’s mouth (or perhaps, given its undoubted effect on those exercising their power of advice and consent, from its other end), I don’t know what is. 

Then there are all the Nixonian twitches, ticks, and tensions, summarized today by Dan Froomkin in his Washington Post White House Briefing.  Froomkin quotes reporting by WaPo Oliphant_lest_we_forget_vc007261_halfsiz columnist Dana Milbank on the topic:

"The fidgeting clearly corresponded to the questioning. When Lauer asked if Bush, after a slow response to Katrina, was ‘trying to get a second chance to make a good first impression,’ Bush blinked 24 times in his answer. When asked why Gulf Coast residents would have to pay back funds but Iraqis would not, Bush blinked 23 times and hitched his trousers up by the belt.

"When the questioning turned to Miers, Bush blinked 37 times in a single answer — along with a lick of the lips, three weight shifts and some serious foot jiggling."

He continues to paraphrase and quote Milbank:

Milbank also touches on Bush’s habit of making inappropriate facial expressions. At one point, he writes, Bush "seemed to lose control of the timing. He smiled after observing that Iraqis are ‘paying a serious price’ because of terrorism."

And Milbank doesn’t even mention the tic that has been the subject of intense speculation in the blogosphere for several months: Bush’s bizarre, shifting lower jaw movement that increasingly punctuates the ends of his sentences.


In fact, Froomkin’s whole column is a nice little slice o’ Watergate.  He covers (I’m using his subheads):

  • Tension city (above)
  • Rove, Card at War—over Iraq? (Chris Matthews asks Newsweek editor Howard Fineman, "You believe that the fight between those who may be headed toward indictment, the vice president’s [deputy] chief of staff, Karl Rove, there is a war between them and the people who are going to survive them, Andy Card, etcetera?")
  • Rove, Card at War—over Miers? (quoting National Journal’s Hotlineblog "Is it just us or is there already a storyline developing about ‘who’s to blame for Miers’? And if so, is WH CoS Andrew Card about to be on the wrong end of this blame game?")
  • Et tu, Cheney? (circumstantial blogospheric evidence of cooling love between W and The Vice)
  • David Ignatius writing in the Post "that the GOP is entering the post-Bush era. A war of succession has begun, cloaked in a war of principles. "
  • Plame Endgame:

Signs are everywhere that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is tightening his noose, possibly around Bush’s and Vice President Cheney’s two most essential aides: Rove and Scooter Libby. But even more than that, it also looks more and more like his investigation, once it’s made public, could pull back the curtain on some less than savory White House efforts to incite the country to war in Iraq and then prevent the press from exposing its secrets.

Froomkin quotes Carol Leonard’s Post reporting:

"Numerous lawyers involved in the 22-month investigation said they are bracing for Fitzgerald to bring criminal charges against administration officials. They speculated, based on his questions, that he may be focused on charges of false statements, obstruction of justice or violations of the Espionage Act involving the release of classified government information to unauthorized persons."

  • Impeachment Watch

After waiting fruitlessly for a polling company to repeat a question first asked by Zogby in June, a group that supports a congressional inquiry into Bush’s decision to invade Iraq paid another polling company to do so.

The question: "If President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should consider holding him accountable by impeaching him." reports on the results .

"By a margin of 50% to 44%, Americans say that President Bush should be impeached if he lied about the war in Iraq, according to a new poll. . . .

"The poll was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, the highly-regarded non-partisan polling company. The poll interviewed 1,001 U.S. adults on October 8-9."

The Zogby poll in June found 42 percent of respondents agreed with a very similar statement.

Laura Rozen has a good collection of reporting, current and recent, on the White House Iraq Group.  This seems to have been a Big Lie-type propaganda committee designed to put over the Iraq War in just the way that so many Americans object to, including in its weekly convocations Rove, Scooter, Card, Matalin, Rice, Hadley, and a couple of others (here, here, here, and, in large part, here).

Another interesting sign for me, again highlighted by Laura, is in the testimony of Vanity Fair’s Michael Wolff, talking on Hardball:

Well, I—I mean, I think the whole White House in is turmoil over this [the special prosecutor’s Plame investigation].

And I would slightly disagree with Howard, that I‘m not sure it‘s so much of a division as lots of people running around and trying to protect themselves, because—because this could—this could wash over everyone. I mean, one of the—one of the reasonable questions here is—is, what were the guys in the Oval Office thinking?

In fact, Mathews’ whole leadin for Hardball last Monday is amazing, given his usual orientation:

Bush_and_rove Karl Rove, the president‘s political ramrod, has been called back to the grand jury probing the CIA leak case.  If you don‘t think this leak case matters, ask yourself, what was the most frightening case you heard for going to war with Iraq?  Probably it was that Saddam Hussein was buying uranium yellow cake in Africa to build nuclear weapons.  The president said it in his 2003 State of the Union address.  The vice president repeated it with military precision, almost like a Gatling gun, Saddam Hussein, nuclear weapons, Saddam Hussein, nuclear weapons, again and again. 

But it wasn‘t true.  There‘s no evidence even now that Saddam tried to by nuclear materials in Africa.  We know that now because the man the CIA sent down there to Niger to check it out, sent there after Vice President Cheney asked the CIA to check it out, wrote a “New York Times” article a few months after the war started that there was no deal.  Worse yet, the former ambassador, Joseph Wilson, wrote that the people around the president must have known there was no deal, even when the president and his people kept telling the country there was. 

What did they know, and when did they know it?  I’m sure that’s the Special Prosecutor’s main question.   Now, will W execute him at dawn (actually on a Saturday night) like Nixon did Cox?

Oliphant_devil_vc007263_halfsize Call me a sentimental old Watergate fool (what a fascinating summer I had watching the daily rushes from the Ervin committee each evening on WNET in New York).  But it’s strangely familiar.  The special prosecutor chewing on the top aides.  The military longing to pull out, the CIA closely watching for an opportune moment to dump more toxins into the Presidential publicity bloodstream.  The crimes allegedly committed to cover up for more serious breaches of the public trust.  The snarling, self-appointed guardians of American virtue, the legacy of a hopeless war, and—more than anything—the religious conviction of the Chief Executive that he is the right man at the right time and can do no wrong.

The key moment inside the Watergate White House was the point at which the enormously ambitious, slavishly Nixonite, highly organized machine degraded from political juggernaut to a bunch of lawyered-up victims of someone else’s hubris and wrong-doing.   It happened suddenly, after the application of thousands of small cuts like those we’ve been seeing lately.

We need to watch very carefully, without the gloating we deserve, when, after the trashing of our country, our economy, our military, our national security, our childrens’ fiscal future, our reputation, and our elective system, the Bad Guys start receiving it in the neck.  These are junkyard dogs, Cheney and Rove most of all, and they will not go gentle into that good night.

Nixon_resigns2     Nixon_resignation

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