While not an excuse for the speaker's suddenly found taste for recherche constitutional manners, it must be noted that this sorry episode need never have occurred if Attorney General Gonzales had possessed a shrewder, more worldly understanding of Washington ways. If he had called up the speaker and asked for the House sargeant at arms to formally execute the search warrant with the assistance of the F.B.I., surely there would have been no sense of traduced congressional prerogatives.
The attorney general (indeed anyone who has been in town an hour and a half) should know better than to needlessly ruffle the feathers of such a large and ungainly bird as Congress. While it cannot gain flight, its sheer wing flapping can cause violently turbulent air across the continent.
It is hard to believe that the speaker's unlikely outburst was entirely motivated by the incident in question. Rather -- though the speaker may not yet recognize the fuller source of his passion -- it may be simply the last straw.
The previous hundred bales of straw may well have been the White House's unseemly firing of Hastert's good friend CIA Director Porter Goss -- another event that occurred without the White House having the courtesy and common sense to previously inform the speaker.
Other bales of straw may include the Dubai Port deal, the president's egregious immigration initiative and last year's failed Social Security initiative (which was hotly, if privately, opposed on political grounds by Hastert's House).
It has been a hard year for House Republican/ White House relations. And it will get worse if the leaders of both institutions don't get a grip.
This is no time for the president, the speaker, their senior teams and their ranks and files to fall into political lassitude, and just let their working relations drift further apart. It may feel good to vent spleens and bellow away in outraged wrath. But sterner stuff is required, or it will feel even worse on Nov. 8.
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.