For the next four years you can take it as an immutable Washington truth that when President Bush is allied with the Senate and most of the mainstream media against the conservative Republican base in the House of Representatives, he is on a quick path to a big mistake.
And so he finds himself this week on the intelligence "reform" bill. In fact, he is not only down the path, he is almost to the finish line. The current conference report will pass imminently. Its stalwart opponents in the House, Chairmen Duncan Hunter and and Jim Sensenbrenner are going to be outflanked and defeated. So it is not too soon to perform an autopsy on the death of common sense intelligence reform.
It all started a couple of years ago when the Democrats concocted the idea for an election year Senate Commission investigation of the tragedy of Sept. 11 (now known as the 9/11 Commission). President Bush wisely opposed such a stunt, as it was obviously a device for scapegoating incumbents. And, as the No. 1 incumbent, I assume the president could almost feel little horns and a goatee about to emerge from his head.
The commission certainly couldn't have been motivated by a sincere interest in strengthening our intelligence capacity -- a topic the Democratic Party has been indifferent toward for the last 40 years.
But as the Democrats organized appealing weeping widows of 9/11 victims into a Greek Chorus of Madame Defarges pointing accusatory fingers at all who differed with their views by even a jot or tittle, President Bush let temporary political expediency get the better part of his judgment, and he begrudgingly agreed to the process. It would have taken the courage of 10 lions to resist the pressure -- and, in this instance, the president only had the courage of six.
The commission was shrewdly timed to report its conclusions in July 2004 -- the week of the Democratic Party nominating convention in Boston. Even in the minority, the Democrats are better at investigative politics than are the sometimes well-intentioned but always procedurally inept Republican senators.
The public hearings were a travesty of proper process, being little more than political and press manipulation. Anti-Bush books, such as Richard Clarke's self-serving screed, would be highlighted on CBS's "60 Minutes" on Sunday night, followed by his testimony before the commission on live television Monday morning.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.