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Scott McLellan’s book is getting alot of buzz this morning, mostly on the basis that it sounds like it’s written by the Daily Kos. I’ll reserve judgment on whether the snippets now being discussed are reflective of the book until I read the book but I don’t need to wait to pass judgment on this quote in the AJC’s article:

“President Bush has always been an instinctive leader more than an intellectual leader. He is not one to delve into all the possible policy options, including sitting around engaging in extended debate about them, before making a choice,” McClellan wrote. “Rather, he chooses based on his gut and his most deeply held convictions. Such was the case with Iraq.”

Based on what Bob Woodward wrote in “Bush at War”, McLellan’s take simply doesn’t hold water. Woodward wrote about how President Bush would toss out a subject with his national security team and let them argue about their positions to get the benefit of multiple perspectives.

It’s also worth noting that Dr. Rice said that she appreciated President Bush’s ability to “ask the third, fourth and fifth questions” on foreign policy subjects.

At this point, I don’t find that portion of McLellan’s book credible but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on the book until I’ve read the entire book. One thing that I won’t give him the benefit of the doubt on, though, is his capabilities as a press secretary. Frankly, he was brutal, possibly the worst press secretary in White House history. Many was the time that conservatives complained about his press briefings, which I later nicknamed as the “fetal position briefings.”

There was a night and day difference between his briefings and Tony Snow’s briefings. McLellan would accept the premise of the reporters’ questions; Tony wouldn’t. McLellan just kept repeating the same answer; Tony would first challenge the premise, then recite statistics to refute the premise.

Don’t think that Mr. McLellan didn’t notice that Tony Snow was a media star for the White House. Compared with McLellan being kept out of sight as often as possible, that had to hurt his ego pretty good.

In an interview Tuesday, McClellan said he retains great admiration and respect for Bush. “My job was to advocate and defend his policies and speak on his behalf,” he said. “This is an opportunity for me now to share my own views and perspective on things. There were things we did right and things we did wrong. Unfortunately, much of what went wrong overshadowed the good things we did.”

That’s quite the telling quote. Why didn’t Mr. McLellan think that it was his job to challenge the premise of the reporters’ questions? His job wasn’t to be the Washington press corps’ punching bag. It was to get accurate information out to the American people. He failed miserably in that capacity.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

According to this Chattanooga, TN newspaper article, both Tennessee senators will vote against cloture. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn of Texas and Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson of Georgia have also announced that they’ll vote against cloture. Here’s what Sen. Corker said:

Anticipating a cloture vote on the immigration bill on Tuesday, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) said he will be in opposition.

He said, “I plan to vote against cloture on the immigration bill, as I have already done twice during this debate. I believe a better approach would be a more modest bill that focuses on border security, employer identification, and putting systems in place that will put us in a position to actually enforce a new immigration policy.

“We have lost credibility in Washington on this issue, and I think before the American people will really ever get behind an immigration policy, they’re going to have to feel that Washington is truly going to follow through on what it says, especially in terms of securing our border.”

Sen. Corker has it exactly right in saying that Washington doesn’t have a shred of credibility left on the issue of enforcing the borders. I just wish that’d sink in with Trent Lott, Ted Kennedy and President Bush. It’s to the point where I almost feel sorry for Tony Snow. He’s caught in an impossible position. He’s obligated to sell President Bush’s plan but he’s gotten hammered by Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham about the bill.

He knows that they’ve told him that the American people don’t believe that President Bush will do what the legislation obligates him to do. He knows that his words won’t sway either host. Worst of all, he knows that he can’t give his own opinion, which I’m betting is different than President Bush’s opinion.

Sen. Lamar Alexander said he will also vote against cloture.

He said, “I will vote against cloture to end debate on the current immigration bill when it comes before us next week. Other than the war on terror, there is nothing more important than fixing our broken immigration system, and we must keep working on it for as long as it takes to get it right, but right must include a process that earns the confidence of the American people, and this bill does not do that.

“This problem has been years in the making and will take time to fix. We must secure the border first once and for all, verified by credible sources, without amnesty, you are here legally or you are not here. We also must make it easier for highly skilled workers to come to America to create jobs and expect and assist those here legally to become Americans by speaking our language and appreciating our history and culture.

“I will oppose any bill that does not include these essential elements.”

It sounds like Alexander is open to a deal at some point but he isn’t willing to sign onto this bill because it’s badly flawed.

In his appearance on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Sen. Jeff Sessions told Stephanopoulos that support for the bill was dwindling:

“A lot of key senators that were thought to be supportive have announced in recent days that they don’t support it,” the Alabama Republican said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” “The poll numbers continue to plummet. Only 20 percent of the people, according to a Rasmussen poll, support the bill now.”

What needs to happen is for senators to “go back, re-evaluate and create something we can be proud of,” he said. A good bill, he said, would provide for better tracking of people already in the country.

This link takes you to Captain Ed’s eloquent explanation on why the committee process had to be followed if immigration reform had any chance of passing:

Here’s what people have forgotten about legislation. Under normal circumstances, a bill comes to the House or Senate floor, and is sent immediately to a relevant committee. That committee assigns it to a subcommittee, which begins deliberation on the proposal. It gets hearings, readings, debate, and amendments at that level, after which it gets sent back to the committee (if it passes at all) and goes through the same process all over again. If the committee approves it, it then goes to the floor of the Senate for more debate and amendments.

And this is why this bill failed. The coalition members arrogated to themselves the role of both committee and subcommittee, bypassing members who serve on those panels. In the case of a bill this broad, it could have come to a number of different committees, all of whose members vied for the right to deliberate on these very policies. They had their roles usurped by the coalition, and that made them antagonistic at the start.

I totally agree with Captain Ed’s opinion on that. If legislators can offer their amendments within the committee and floor frameworks, the more likely they’ll feel that their input was given a fair hearing. The original “Grand Bargain” and the current version of the bill avoided the committee process. That’s why I’m predicting this bill’s failure to reach cloture.

Let’s hope that President Bush and Sens. Kennedy and Lott learn from this failure, go back to the drawing board and get this legislation right. Unfortunately, there aren’t any indications that that’s what will happen.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

President Bush didn’t mince words about the ‘new’ Democrat legislation to undercut fund the troops. According to this AP article, President Bush would veto the bill. I suspect that’s because it isn’t really a funding bill as much as it’s a war-on-installments bill.

President Bush would veto a bill drafted by House Democratic leaders that would fund the Iraq war only into the summer months, his spokesman said Wednesday. The Democrats’ proposal would pay for the war through July, then give Congress the option of cutting off money after that if conditions do not improve. Bush requested more than $90 billion to fund the war through September.

“There are restrictions on funding and there are also some of the spending items that were mentioned in the first veto message that are still in the bill,” White House press secretary Tony Snow said on Air Force One traveling with Bush. Asked directly if Bush would veto the House bill in its current form, Snow said, “Yes.”

When Carl Levin announced that they’d fund the troops, the nutroots went wild. They’re now demanding the defunding of the troops, something that won’t fly with the American people. While they don’t like the Iraq war, they’re loathe to the notion of cutting off funding to the troops in the war.

Their latest scheme is another ‘too-clever-by-half’ plan that only the nutroots could’ve thought up. The good news is that the House legislation is essentially DOA in the Senate.

This funding bill doesn’t make sense from a policy standpoint, either. The House bill would cut off funding about a month after the buildup is complete, hardly a legitimate way to measure the surge’s full effects. Simply put, this legislation isn’t serious policy. It’s just Pelosi’s and Murtha’s way of pleasing the Nutroots donors.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Tony Snow’s cancer has spread. Tony is one of the genuinely good guys in Washington, articulate, courteous and feisty, not to mention one of the most knowledgeable men in politics.

That’s why I’m asking LFR readers to keep Tony & his family in your prayers.

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In an unbelievable show of defeatism, the NY Times called Friday’s vote a must win “for Speaker Nancy Pelosi and for the party as a whole.”

After reading that, I can’t fathom how voting to unilaterally declare defeat is winning. It can’t seriously be considered a win militarily. This vote won’t be considered a win for the Democrats, either. They just handed Republicans a billy club the likes of which they haven’t had since Jean Francois Kerry was babbling something about a “global test” in October of 2004. Among the Democrats who just became one term wonders because of this vote are: Nick Lampson, Tim Mahoney, Heath Shuler and Tim Walz. They might as well start polishing up their resumes because they’re history after November, 2008.

They held caucuses, private meetings, conversations on the House floor, and pieced together a majority, a vote at a time, while fighting the longstanding divisions that critics loved to highlight as “Democrats in disarray.”

The truth is that the Democrats are essentially two different camps. People like Jim Marshall and John Barrow of Georgia are relatively conservative Democrats who will vote more often with Republicans than Democrats on national security issues. the other group is comprised of moonbats like Maxine Waters, John Conyers, Keith Ellison and Chaka Fattah. Those groups mix together like oil and water. Disarray is relatively mild.

They’re still accurately called a party in disarray but now they’ve added a couple of other characterizations to the list: defeatists and anti-military.

Critics quickly noted that the majority on this vote could be a fleeting thing. “You’ve got to ask yourself, why go through this long, drawn-out exercise of going and wheeling and cajoling and trying to buy votes within your own party when, in fact, you know it’s not going to go anywhere,” said Tony Snow, the White House spokesman.

Mr. Snow noted, in essence, that Democrats would have to quickly go back to the legislative drawing board, given the President’s resistance to their plan, and given the fact that, “the need for funding the troops is urgent, the clock is running.”

In the final analysis, the House legislation imperiled a number of freshmen from swing districts for nothing. This legislation won’t be taken seriously by the Senate. The deadlines certainly won’t make it out of the conference committee. Finally, Pelosi, Murtha and the other moonbats will cave or be the majority party for a single term.

That isn’t smart politics. The NY Times knows that. They still chose to characterize this as a win for Pelosi. How arrogant is that?

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

The AP’s Nedra Pickler is reporting that Tony Snow has joined the GOP electoral arsenal. Here’s the details thus far:

“They asked, and I thought about it a lot and we went back and forth,” Snow said. “It’s one of those things where I certainly want to help the president. But you have to make sure it’s a fine line, and that’s why I don’t want to get into opponent bashing. The approach I’m going to take is not going to be one of going out and whacking Democrats by name, but straightforward comments about what the president has accomplished,” Snow said.

Tony’s yet another ‘weapon’ that the GOP that the Democrats don’t have. The DNC can’t send their ‘superstars’ anywhere in the US and be widely accepted. Republicans can send Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, President and First Lady Laura Bush, Lynne Cheney, Mary Matalin, Karen Hughes, Speaker Hastert, Majority Leader Boehner, former Speaker Newt Gingrich out almost anywhere.

On the other hand, Democrats can send out…Barack Obama. They certainly can’t send Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi and the Clintons out anywhere. They have to send them to already blue districts.

Tony’s a gifted speaker with a great sense of humor. He’s originally a speechwriter. He knows how to connect with voters. This makes too much sense to ignore it.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Tony Snow announced that President Bush will address the NAACP Convention Thursday. Darryl Fears’ Washington Post article softpedaled Julian Bond’s radical racial rhetoric but I won’t let him get away with that. Here’s what I’m refering to:

NAACP Chairman Julian Bond referred to far-right members of the Republican Party as “the Taliban wing.”

That isn’t factually accurate. Here’s proof:

Calling President Bush a liar, Bond told the audience at the historically black institution that this White House’s lies are more serious than the lies of his predecessor’s because Clinton’s lies didn’t kill people. “We now find ourselves refighting old battles we thought we had already won,” he said. “We have to fight discrimination whenever it raises its ugly head.” He referred to former Attorney General John Ashcroft as J. Edgar Ashcroft. He compared Bush’s judicial nominees to the Taliban.

Here’s what we know that:

  • Darryl Fears said that Bond referred to far-right members of the Republican Party as “the Taliban wing” and;
  • Julian Bond has compared President Bush’s “judicial nominees to the Taliban.”

Based on that information, it’s logical to conclude that Julian Bond thinks that John Roberts, Samuel Alito, William Pryor, David McKeague, Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers-Brown (the daughter of sharecroppers) are the American version of the Taliban.

Based on that information, there’s no way that reasonable people can conclude that Julian Bond is a fair-minded person. It’s easier to conclude that he’s a bigot.

It’s pretty obvious that Darryl Fears tried softening Julian Bond’s image. The only question remaining is why he tried that.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

As I posted earlier, Rush’s interview with White House Press Secretary Tony Snow was something that made me “Proud to be a Conservative. After reading the transcript of the interview, I’m even more proud. Here’s the first of a couple of the more contentious exchanges:

RUSH: But, you know, I’ve always fantasized about having your job for one day, and I generally have this fantasy after watching David Gregory and the “zoo” that you referred to earlier, that was really hit a peak with poor old Scott McClellan. But I don’t think I would want it right now, because I would have a tough time doing your job. I know you’re speaking to the press, but I don’t understand the disconnect that exists between Washington and constituents. It’s a bigger disconnect than I’ve seen in 18 years: illegal immigration, the reaction of the House leadership to the William Jefferson search, office search. Everybody in Washington seems tone deaf on immigration to what the American people want and say, and it defies logic, and I don’t know how you explain it to people.
SNOW: Well, I mean, for instance, the issue came up today, and you and I probably disagree at least in part on this, but my view is the president’s right, and I’m not just saying this; I said it while I was running a radio show, that if you’re going to deal with this problem, you gotta deal with everything at once, and here’s the reason why. I think border security is something that’s going to take a couple of years to get right. So already, by the way, the president is going to start moving assets first week of June. He’s not going to need a special bill from Congress, and that’s the good news. But the fact is it’s going to take a couple of years to get every

I’ve agreed with that from the beginning. If you don’t deal with all of that on a legislative level from the start, then there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to come back later and fix this or that thing. If the wall is built but we still have catch-and-release and we don’t beef up the internal security measures like the biometric card that employers have to check, then there will be gaps in our security.

Putting the biometric cards into the legislation while beefing up the catch-and-return operations seems like the logical thing to do.

RUSH: You’re talking about the wall?
SNOW: I’m talking about the wall; I’m talking about electronic surveillance; I’m talking about getting Border Patrol agents trained up, because at different places you’re going to need different stuff. In some places you need a wall. In some places you need agents, and in some places where you’ve only got, you know, 200 miles of Sonoran desert and mountains, you probably need sensors and surveillance. You put in place what’s necessary to make that part of the border secure. So it takes a while to do it. Now, I don’t think anybody wants to sit around and wait to go after employers who are hiring people illegally and know it. You want to go after them right away, and I don’t think people want to wait to figure out who the illegals are. You want to find out that is rapidly as possible, and I, frankly, don’t think people want to wait to start figuring out what we do with the 11 or 12 million illegals, and that’s really what the president… It’s interesting. I’ve heard… Every conservative I talked to on Capitol Hill says, “We want to do that stuff, but we want to do it later.” My answer is, “Why? Don’t you want to go after employers now and don’t you want to figure out who the illegals are now and don’t you want to start solving this mess now?”
RUSH: But the Senate bill doesn’t do any of this though!
SNOW: Well, sure it does. What the president’s proposing does. I mean, you take a look, for instance, at the issue of illegals. You get these tamper-proof IDs with biometric stuff. You can’t fake that. Now, once you have that in place, employers no longer can say, “Man, I don’t know. That birth certificate looked okay to me, and that fake driver’s license, I thought it was legitimate.” Suddenly you’ve got something you can’t fake.

Why on earth wouldn’t we want to start cleaning up all phases of this problem ASAP? After all, punishing employers who willfully hire illegal aliens isn’t something that conservatives should tolerate any more than we should tolerate illegals crossing the border. I agree with King from SCSU Scholars. Putting that card in place is essential to improving internal security.
Read the rest of this entry »

I’m usually, though not always, proud to be a conservative. Today is one of those times that I’m especially proud of being a conservative. Earlier this afternoon, I was fortunate to catch the debate that erupted between Rush and Tony Snow. Tony was Rush’s guest for essentially the last half hour of the show today. The topic was immigration reform.

Those who were listening heard 2 men of undeniable gravitas arguing their points with passion, with substantial command of the facts and with a willingness to let the other person state their case. In short, it was conservative talk radio at its finest.

Rush’s frustration with the inaction after Simpson-Mazzoli was very obvious at a couple points. It’s a frustration that most conservatives, myself included, relate to all too well. Tony countered by stating that illegal immigration wasn’t a national issue at that time. Rush countered by saying that it’s always been a big issue in California. Tony responded by agreeing, then saying that it’s now an issue in Maine, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, etc., so it’s a national issue.

Rush also brought up the issue that the government isn’t enforcing the laws against employers now, then asking why we should believe that they’ll start now. Tony’s response was that Simpson-Mazzoli made it a misdemeanor but that there was no penalty for the criminals. Rush said that he thought it was a felony but Tony reminded him that it was this year’s House bill that made it a felony.

Tony’s defense of the President’s policies and Rush’s voicing the concerns that millions of conservatives in such a professional, informed manner should make all conservatives proud because it was a perfect example of how conservatives disagree with each other.

When a Kossack/MoveOn.org advocate disagrees with a DLC advocate, it gets bloody and it gets personal.

When conservatives of that much gravitas disagree, the entire debate is elevated.

Check back later when I post the transcript of the debate.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

I don’t believe it for a minute but that’s Dick Meyers’ opinion. First his accusations:

Short of another disaster on the scale of 9/11, George Bush no longer has the power, credibility or ability to effectively govern for the rest of his term in office. Contrary to what you hear on television, governing remains more important than campaigning. Government is more important than elections, to the extent the two can be differentiated anymore.

Now for his predictions:

The tax cuts that oozed through Congress last week may well be his last “significant” piece of domestic legislation; I put quotations around significant because they are, in fact temporary. The entire menu of Bush tax tinkering is set to expire in 2010 on someone else’s watch, an apt metaphor for this administration. The Bush administration is now locked in a triple-hammer hold that would defeat Houdini.

That’s a bad prediction, Dick, especially with immigration reform likely to pass the Senate this week. Once it gets to conference committee and the differences are ironed out, expect it to pass the House and Senate and a signing ceremony every bit as grand, if not more extravagant, as this morning’s tax cut signing ceremony.

Earlier today, I wrote that OPEC was expecting oil surpluses for the rest of the year. If that happens, gas prices will come down, though not dramatically.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is introducing his cabinet to the Parliament this weekend, too. al-Maliki has promised to crack down on the militias causing the sectarian violence as his government’s first priority. If the training keeps picking up steam and they get the militias reigned in, that means meaningful troop withdrawals become possible.

Factor all those things together and Republicans will be in good shape by November.

Admittedly, there’s been a stagnation in Washington for most of the past year. That’s changing dramatically, partially because the President is leading again. Another component to the rebound is his staking out a logical solid position on immigration reform. While the GOP hardliners are carping about it right now, I suspect that alot of people will like the plan.

Still another ‘component’ of the rebound will be Tony Snow’s performance as press secretary. Tony’s so much different than Scott McClellan. Don’t underestimate the power of clearly communicated conservative goals, which is Tony’s specialty.

After getting more conservative judges confirmed this summer, expect conservatives to be reminded why having George Bush in office is a positive thing. Expect the confirmation fo these judges to be a big lift to the GOP, too.

Faced with his unpopularity, the Republican Party, quite naturally, is fighting. Senate and House Republicans are in almost open warfare. The House is hawkish and loud on immigration policy, the Senate dovish and conciliatory. House Leader John Boehner called Leader Frist’s call for a $100 gas rebate “insulting,” a week after Speaker Hastert dissed General Hayden, the president’s choice for the CIA. In February, the House shafted both the Senate and the House by killing the Dubai ports deal.

Meyer is right that there was a string of issues that caused some intraparty infighting. His mistake comes in thinking that that’s a permanent thing. Now that meaningful legislation is being worked on and judges are about to get confirmed, that infighting will soon be in the GOP’s rear-view mirror.

That isn’t to say that all bickering will be a thing of the past. Clearly, that won’t be the case, especially in the case of immigration reform. Expect that legislation to be finished and off the table by the time the President and Congress take their summer vacations. Once that’s off the table, expect a more harmonious GOP.

The vaunted brilliance and corporate organization of Rove/Bush Inc. has been pretty much blown away in the second term. Rove is fighting off an indictment. From the Dubai deal to the Harriet Miers death march, the White House’s political ear seems to be getting tinnier.

Frankly, this doesn’t give Tony Snow much credit. While Rove is still the Architect, Tony just came from talk radio, where he got in touch with the pulse of the conservative movement on a daily basis. That isn’t to be underestimated, especially right now.

Tony was on Hugh’s show tonight. Here’s the most noteworthy exchange:

HH: Now given that, on the night of the president’s address, no sooner was he done than dozens of blogs were chewing up what he had to say. How does the White House press office deal with a 24/7 cycle that is relentless, Tony Snow?

TS: We are in the process of designating people to sort of do blog work. Because…that is one of the things I am doing at the press office is to get us up on the new media, and so I still haven’t finished that task, but I am going to start designating people to keep an eye out on certain blogs so we can figure out an effective strategy because, as you know, the great thing about a blog is that if you get some information out, the blogs are useful not only for information but also for various analyses. You get it into the bloodstream and boom, people start linking all across the universe and it is like one of those pictures of a crack in the ice, it just spiderwebs everywhere, only it does it at the speed of light…

That bit of news alone should get conservatives’ attention in a heartbeat. This is telling them that (a) their views are being paid attention to and (b) the White House will be responding to the right blogosphere.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative