FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

White House in Meltdown

by ALEXANDER COCKBURN

and JEFFREY ST. CLAIR

Maybe for a moment George Bush thought Bill Frist was calling late Wednesday evening to tell him he was quitting as Senate majority leader on account of his own deepening legal problems, stemming from insider stock deals.

But no, Frist was phoning about problems not his own. He told Bush that the conservative Republican mutiny over the Miers nomination had carried the day. The votes for Miers just weren’t there.

Thursday morning Bush called it quits, using executive privilege as the excuse. Supposedly at issue were disclosure requests for legal memos Miers had written as part her job as White House counsel.

At least, since night had fallen, Bush could be confident it wasn’t a call to tell him that the federal grand jury assembled at the US District Court had issued indictments against top White House aides Rove, Libby, Hadley, Hanna and Wurmser, with Cheney as unindicted coconspirator.

That treat, or portions of it, awaits Bush on Friday. If he has time for any political counsel Rove may have advised Bush it was better to throw the Miers bone to the Republican ultras today. Then to rally them to the President’s side over the weekend, when indictments may dominate the headlines and the Sunday talk shows.

The Miers fiasco seems to have been hatched in the private quarters of the White House, with Laura Bush edgy over the nomination of Roberts and pressing for Miers, a woman and a close friend who might have a flexible posture on Roe v Wade.

So Bush named his legal adviser in an effort at triangulation, meaning a political maneuver designed to neutralize the ultras in your own party. Clinton played this game time after time, reaching over the heads of the Democratic liberals to the right wing in both parties in Congress.

But maybe triangulation only works on Democrats, since the liberals will swallow anything, as Clinton’s victories from NAFTA to Welfare attest.

There are some things conservatives won’t swallow, even if it means humiliating a Republican president in desperate political straits.

Now what? Miers stays in the White House and works on the next nominee to the US Supreme Court.

The Republican conservatives, still resentful at having swallowed Roberts, want an ultra whose implacable enmity to abortion is etched in stone.

This could mean J. Michael Luttig or J. Harvey Wilkinson who both serve on the Fourth Circuit. Or Edith Jones, from the Fifth.

But the dilemma for all Republicans in touch with political reality is that the country as a whole does not want to see Roe v Wade overturned. The voters would exact terrible vengeance on the political party perceived as being responsible for ending choice in America.

A candidate “soft on choice” might be Alberto Gonzales, Miers’ predecessor in the White House and now Attorney General.

But then Bush would reignite conservative fury at a moment of extreme political weakness and also incur the charge of cronyism. Part of the Miers disaster was a failure to appreciate in the wake of Hurricane Katrina that cronyism was in disrepute.

Bush, after five years, is now at the point Clinton reached in the early summer of his first year in office: a total collapse in political credibility. Clinton reached out to a Republican fixer, David Gergen, and to Jesse Helms’ campaign strategist, Dickie Morris, plus the most squalid denizens of his own party.

Who can Bush turn to?

The first lifeline would be a dishonorable mention of Dick Cheney in the grand jury’s indictment, prompting the all-powerful vice president to resign.

The path would then be clear for a return of the old guard, with James Baker ­ the man who fixed Florida for Bush in 2001, as the Renovator. The corporate sponsorship of the White House would shift from Halliburton to the Carlyle Group.

It would be the Revenge of Bush 1, already heralded by the recent onslaughts on Cheney’s neocons by Brent Scowcroft and Powell’s number two, Lawrence Wilkerson. It’s a theme worthy of the great classical tragedians.

 

 

 

Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

May 22, 2017
Diana Johnstone
All Power to the Banks! The Winners-Take-All Regime of Emmanuel Macron
Robert Fisk
Hypocrisy and Condescension: Trump’s Speech to the Middle East
John Grant
Jeff Sessions, Jesus Christ and the Return of Reefer Madness
Nozomi Hayase
Trump and the Resurgence of Colonial Racism
Rev. William Alberts
The Normalizing of Authoritarianism in America
Frank Stricker
Getting Full Employment: the Fake Way and the Right Way 
Jamie Davidson
Red Terror: Anti-Corbynism and Double Standards
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, Sweden, and Continuing Battles
Robert Jensen
Beyond Liberal Pieties: the Radical Challenge for Journalism
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Extravagant Saudi Trip Distracts from His Crisis at Home
Angie Beeman
Gig Economy or Odd Jobs: What May Seem Trendy to Privileged City Dwellers and Suburbanites is as Old as Poverty
Colin Todhunter
The Public Or The Agrochemical Industry: Who Does The European Chemicals Agency Serve?
Jerrod A. Laber
Somalia’s Worsening Drought: Blowback From US Policy
Michael J. Sainato
Police Claimed Black Man Who Died in Custody Was Faking It
Clancy Sigal
I’m a Trump Guy, So What?
Gerry Condon
In Defense of Tulsi Gabbard
Weekend Edition
May 19, 2017
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Getting Assange: the Untold Story
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Secret Sharer
Charles Pierson
Trump’s First Hundred Days of War Crimes
Paul Street
How Russia Became “Our Adversary” Again
Andrew Levine
Legitimation Crises
Mike Whitney
Seth Rich, Craig Murray and the Sinister Stewards of the National Security State 
Robert Hunziker
Early-Stage Antarctica Death Rattle Sparks NY Times Journalists Trip
Ken Levy
Why – How – Do They Still Love Trump?
Bruce E. Levine
“Hegemony How-To”: Rethinking Activism and Embracing Power
Robert Fisk
The Real Aim of Trump’s Trip to Saudi Arabia
Christiane Saliba
Slavery Now: Migrant Labor in the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia
Chris Gilbert
The Chávez Hypothesis: Vicissitudes of a Strategic Project
Howard Lisnoff
Pay No Attention to That Man Behind the Curtain
Brian Cloughley
Propaganda Feeds Fear and Loathing
Stephen Cooper
Is Alabama Hiding Evidence It Tortured Two of Its Citizens?
Sheldon Richman
The Real Danger From Trump is Ignored
Jay Moore
Learning from History: Resistance in the 1850s and Today
Matthew Stevenson
Down and Out in London and Paris With Macron, May, Trump and Gatsby
David Jaffee
Rolling Back Democracy
Fred Gardner
Irrefutable Proof: Russian Election Meddling Documented!
Jess Guh
Neurology Study Reveals What We Already Know: People of Color Get Worse Healthcare
Joseph Natoli
A Culture of Narcissism, a Politics of Personality
David Rosen
Politics and the Agent of Social Change
Ian Almond
The Secret Joke of Our Democracy: Britain’s Elephant in the Boardroom
Andre Vltchek
Revolution Vs Passivity
Erik Rydberg
Stop the Jordan Cove LNG Project #NoLNG
Vijay Prashad
When Israeli Fighter Jets Almost Killed Nehru
Christopher Brauchli
The Certified Trump
Chuck Collins
Congress Wants to Cut Your Health Care — And Billionaires’ Taxes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail