Robert Novak

Ridge, the former governor of Pennsylvania and secretary of Homeland Security, questioned whether the Baghdad trip was McCain's own idea or came from his staff. No clear answer was forthcoming, but the criticism in Ridge's tone was implicit. A strong supporter of Bush's Iraq policy, Ridge endorsed McCain for president on Feb. 28.

McCain has come under fire for saying that Baghdad was safer since the U.S. troop surge and then entering the Iraqi capital under heavy security protection.


Democratic leaders, furious over President Bush's recess appointment of millionaire St. Louis businessman and Republican contributor Sam Fox, are contemplating keeping the Senate in session most of August to stop the president from again circumventing the confirmation process.

Fox's nomination as ambassador to Belgium was blocked because of his $50,000 2004 contribution to the Swift Boat veterans group that attacked presidential candidate John Kerry's record during the Vietnam War. Kerry led the fight against Fox. Bush withdrew the nomination, but then sent Fox to Brussels without confirmation by nominating him during the Easter recess.

Angered by this process, Democrats are talking about keeping the usual Senate recess time in August short so that Bush may be unable to submit recess nominations. Such a summer schedule presumably would include pro forma sessions that would keep short the official length of any recess.

Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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