Robert Novak

The White House is letting it be known on Capitol Hill that top presidential adviser Karl Rove will play no part in President Bush's forthcoming big push to pass a compromise immigration bill.

Rove, renowned as architect of Bush's 2000 and 2004 elections, was named deputy chief of staff at the beginning of the second term and assigned additional duties dealing with issues beyond politics. However, he has been under intensive attack this year in the Democratic-controlled Congress with demands that he be subpoenaed to testify under oath about the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

Consequently, he probably would not be helpful in trying to find a middle ground on the immigration problem, which will require bipartisan cooperation.

RAHM BLAST

Rep. Rahm Emanuel, House Democratic Caucus chairman, plans a major speech in the next two weeks to be delivered at a non-partisan site that will depict the controversy over President Bush's dismissal of U.S. attorneys as a part of a broader pattern of corruption.

Emanuel plans to say that the U.S. attorneys issue, in the public mind, "will be to corruption what Katrina was to incompetence." He will paint a pattern of Bush administration abuses that include the Interior Department, General Services Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Department of Education on student loans.

Such an attack would get lost amid the flood of partisan oratory if delivered on the House floor. Consequently, Emanuel has been searching for a non-governmental site, such as the National Press Club or the Brookings Institution. Emanuel is credited with making the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys a major issue for Democrats.

DELAYING THOMPSON

Although revelation of his cancer history has cleared the decks for Fred Thompson to run for the Republican presidential nomination, his commitments as a television and radio performer may delay his announcement until June.

As an actor on NBC's "Law and Order," Thompson can scarcely abandon the show during the May ratings sweeps and has taped programs that will be aired then. He also has commitments to ABC as a stand-in for radio commentator Paul Harvey.

There was no reason for Thompson to make the cancer revelation if he did not plan to run for president, and this indicates he intends to join the race. However, prominent Republicans are delaying an endorsement until he actually announces his candidacy.

MCCAIN'S BAGHDAD TRIP

In a private conference call with supporters of Sen. John McCain's presidential candidacy, Tom Ridge indicated disapproval of the candidate's most recent visit to Baghdad.

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.

BLOCKING BUSH

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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