It's baffling to the point of disbelief: how the Bush White House conducts its affairs with near-complete ignorance of or contempt for fellow Republicans who must seek re-election next year -- to say nothing of those vying for the White House.
Take as an example Vice President Dick Cheney's contorted logic that for the purposes of information disclosure, he's not part of the executive branch. Who is he kidding?
A lot of Americans believe Cheney is the executive branch -- that he's more influential in making White House policy than even President Bush. Many polls confirm this perception.
Now Cheney with a straight face tells us that because he is president of the U.S. Senate that makes him a sort of quasi-legislative government official. This is laughable.
Next comes the matter of the Bush administration's refusal to turn over requested documents to Congress.
Yes, these requests come from partisan Democrats authoring their own serial tale of dastardly deeds committed by Bush and his minions.
But the administration's stonewalling by claiming executive privilege has now graduated to even trying to prevent former administration employees from testifying or otherwise providing information to Congress about the supposed partisan firings of U.S. attorneys.
This is counterproductive. Better to give the opposition what it wants and then call the investigations what they are -- cynically partisan themselves. Instead, the defiant Bush White House looks more and more like a reincarnation of the Nixon White House.
During the crafting of the Republican immigration bill, a dirty little secret leaked on Capitol Hill: Even many of the staunchest Bush allies in Congress felt contempt for the White House liaisons to the Senate. Word is that senators were treated as errand boys and girls, and that compromises that might have made the bill palatable -- read: passable -- were contemptuously dismissed by the Bush negotiators.
Then there's Iraq. One by one, loyal Republican senators are feeling compelled to demand a tangible timetable for scaling back American involvement in the war.
Are they turncoats who lack patriotism? No. They're the first trickle of what likely will turn into a wave of disenchanted Republican leaders by late fall.
This White House simply will not admit that their plan for stabilizing Iraq has failed. Tap-dancing around the inevitable for another year likely will accomplish nothing more than politically weakening or destroying the very people who have been the most supportive of our military, and of the fight against terrorism.
But don't take my word for it. Ask the stream of strategists and veteran staff who are bailing out of Sen. John McCain's foundering campaign.
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