Iowa Presidential Watch
Holding the Democrats accountable

Q U O T A B L E S

May 8, 2006

"It's a terrible signal [the firing of Porter Goss] to conservatives anywhere in the State Department, Defense Department, CIA, anywhere in the federal government who are trying to carry out the president's agenda against the bureaucracy, that, unfortunately, the White House is not going to stand behind them." Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol said.

"I was trying to think, who in my lifetime has been such a dominant frontrunner and yet people had been nervous about his electability - and I came up with Ronald Reagan," Newsweek columnist Eleanor Clift commented about Hillary Clintonís front runner status.

 

J U S T   P O L I T I C S

 

Hayden appointed CIA Director

The Washington Post reports on the nomination of Gen. Michael V. Hayden as CIA director of the C. I. A. Stephen Hadley, Bush's national security adviser appearance on Good Morning America is quoted:

"I would point out that there have been several heads of the Central Intelligence Agency who have been military officers," Hadley said on "Good Morning America."

"There are officers serving in that agency. The question is not military versus civilian; the question is the best man for that job. And Mike Hayden really has that capacity.

"He's run a big organization. He knows how to transform a big organization. He's committed to the agenda of intelligence reform."

"And," said Hadley, "he's not just a military officer; he's had broad experience in the intelligence business. He's been involved in human intelligence, has been in an embassy overseas, which involves him in the overseas operations. He's served on the National Security Council staff in terms of the presidency of Bush 41," Hadley continued. "So this is a kind of broad-gauged guy, a change agent committed to reform, and he can really do great things for the country as head of the Central Intelligence Agency."

Rove on the loose

The NY Times covers the fact that White House advisor Karl Rove is doing what he does best, win elections:

In regular West Wing breakfast sessions catered by the White House mess, Mr. Rove and the White House political director, Sara Taylor, have already been reaching out to nervous and vulnerable Republicans, three at a time, laying out an emerging three-prong attack on Democrats over national security, taxes and health care.

In meetings at the White House, aboard Air Force One and in candidates' home states, Mr. Rove is trying to rally Republicans to stand by the president and his agenda.

He has focused in particular on uniting them behind the administration's proposals to overhaul immigration, which include guest worker provisions that conservatives despise; the Iraq war, which has driven Mr. Bush's poll numbers sharply downward; and the Medicare prescription drug program, which the administration says will cost $872 billion from 2006 to 2014 and which Mr. Bush backed enthusiastically despite complaints from conservatives that it was a vast expansion of the social welfare state.

Democrats need a net gain of six seats to win control of the Senate, and 15 for the House. With the overall outcome potentially coming down to one or two races, nearly every district and state seems to be getting some attention from Mr. Rove. He enlisted the president, and called on his own, to persuade Representative Elton Gallegly of California, a 10-term veteran, to reconsider a decision to drop his planned re-election campaign because of health worries.

The Grassley show

Robert Novak in his column reports that Sen. Grassley has been missing joint meetings on tax policy:

Sen. Charles Grassley, [R-IA] chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, turned down a request to meet in the Oval Office with President Bush and other Senate and House tax legislators last Tuesday because he was scheduled with Iowa constituents.

That marked Grassley's second recent boycott of a high-level meeting about tax legislation. A week earlier, he declined to attend an 8:30 p.m. session in Speaker Dennis Hastert's office because it was so late in the day.

The message from Grassley is that as Finance Committee chairman he is running his own show and does not want to be bossed around by either the president or the speaker.

Voter distribution

The Washington Post reports on a study by political scientist Gary Jacobson that shows if the Democrats could redistrict in their favor they might win:

Jacobson's research shows a little more than half of all the nation's 435 congressional districts over recent decades consistently favored Republican presidential candidates. A little less than 40 percent went for Democrats. (The remainder had a mixed pattern.) Jacobson, at the University of California at San Diego, said this is due to an "inefficient" distribution of Democratic voters, with many concentrations of 60 percent or more in urban areas and places with large numbers of minorities. Republicans, he found, are distributed more evenly, yielding more districts in which GOP voters have a slimmer but sturdy majority.

Jacobson's study highlighted another problem for Democrats as they labor to shed minority status: the decline in split-ticket voting.

In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, about 40 percent of all House Democrats represented districts that voted for GOP presidential candidates. Many were in the South, where local Democratic politicians often disowned the "national" Democratic Party and many endorsed the GOP presidential nominee.

 Will Rove be indicted?

The Washington Post reports that White House advisor Karl Rove will know this month whether he will be indicted by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald for lying to the grand jury:

Did Rove, who was deeply involved in defending President Bush's use of prewar intelligence about Iraq, lie about a key conversation with a reporter that was aimed at rebutting a tough White House critic?

Fitzgerald, according to sources close to the case, is reviewing testimony from Rove's five appearances before the grand jury. Bush's top political strategist has argued that he never intentionally misled the grand jury about his role in leaking information about undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame to Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper in July 2003. Rove testified that he simply forgot about the conversation when he failed to disclose it to Fitzgerald in his earlier testimony.

Fitzgerald is weighing Rove's foggy-memory defense against evidence he has acquired over nearly 2 1/2 years that shows Rove was very involved in White House efforts to beat back allegations that Bush twisted U.S. intelligence to justify the Iraq war, according to sources involved in the case.

That evidence includes details of a one-week period in July 2003 when Rove talked to two reporters about Plame and her CIA role, then reported the conversations back to high-level White House aides, according to sources in the case and information released by Fitzgerald as part of the ongoing leak investigation.

Additionally, one former government official said he testified that Rove talked with White House colleagues about the political importance of defending the prewar intelligence and countering Plame's husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. It was Wilson who accused Bush of twisting intelligence about Iraq's efforts to obtain nuclear material from Africa. The official refused to be named out of fear of angering Fitzgerald and the White House.

Robert Luskin, Rove's lawyer, responded that "just because Rove was involved in the defense of the White House Iraq policy, it does not follow that he was necessarily involved in some effort to discredit Wilson personally. Nor does it prove that there even was an effort to disclose Plame's identity in order to punish Wilson."

Rove expects to learn as soon as this month if he will be indicted -- or publicly cleared of wrongdoing -- for making false statements in the CIA leak case, according to sources close to the presidential adviser.

Vilsackís travels

The Des Moines Registerís Jane Norman covered what the Charlotte Observer said about Governor Tom Vilsack (D-IA) when he visited that state in exploration for higher office:

The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer says it could also be a political asset after the last two elections, in which the Democratic nominees came from somewhat more lofty backgrounds.

Dick Polman of the Observer writes that Jerry Meeks, the party chairman in North Carolina, says: "We need to hear a life story that Southerners can appreciate. A life story that embodies the theme of America as a land of hope and opportunity."

Polman notes that "Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack triumphed over an abusive mother. John Edwards was the son of a millworker. Ex-Virginia Gov. Mark Warner was the first in his family to graduate from college."

 

 

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