This memo on Iraq funding strategy from John Podesta, Larry Korb, Scott Lilly, and Brian Katulis seems smart to me; about the right combination of politics and substance. It’s extremely frustrating that there doesn’t appear to be a viable way for anti-war congressfolk to simply use their authority to mandate both a beginning point for withdrawal and an endpoint but, well, there just isn’t one. This fight is going to need to keep happening — less in Washington than in members’ districts — over and over again for months until there’s more pressure and more votes.
New Republic editor in chief Martin Peretz speaks up in defense of Paul Wolfowitz and the general principle of appointing unqualified, slightly corrupt people to important positions after they screw up their job at the Defense Department. Even the avowed conservative magazines don’t seem especially interested in flacking for Wolfowitz at this point.
The New York Times reports on reaction to the Bush administration’s “radical new strategy to quell the widening sectarian violence by building a 12-foot-high, three-mile-long wall separating a historic Sunni enclave from Shiite neighborhoods.”
The wall has already drawn intense criticism from residents of the neighborhood, who say that it will increase sectarian tensions and that it is part of a plan by the Shiite-led Iraqi government to box in the minority Sunnis.
A doctor in Adhamiya, Abu Hassan, said the wall would transform the residents into caged animals.
“It’s unbelievable that they treat us in such an inhumane manner,” he said in a telephone interview. “They’re trying to isolate us from other parts of Baghdad. The hatred will be much greater between the two sects.”
“House and Senate Democrats reached a deal Friday afternoon on a package of tax cuts that will accompany a minimum-wage-hike bill. The $4.9 billion package of tax breaks, along with a $2.10-an-hour increase in the federal minimum wage, will be included in the conference report for the emergency Iraq War spending bill.” More HERE.
On his radio show Friday, Rush Limbaugh encouraged conservatives to “circle the wagons” around Alberto Gonzales, recycling his argument that winning elections is more important than governing. Here was Rush’s amusing defense of Gonzales:
Everybody on the Republican side now, along with the Democrats, wants to throw Alberto Gonzales overboard. He may be an idiot, I don’t know. He may be a weak attorney general. … It seems, every time there’s a public demand for somebody to resign in Washington, it’s always a Republican!
While Rush may be willing to disregard incompetence, other conservatives are not. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL) have called for Gonzales’ resignation. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) put out a statement saying Gonzales “should have a frank discussion with the White House. If he and the president decide that he cannot be an effective leader…then he should resign.”
Even White House insiders acknowledge that Gonzales “hurt himself during testimony.” “Everyone’s putting their best public face on,” one source said, “but everyone is discouraged. Everyone is disappointed.”
As noted by ThinkProgress yesterday, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales lied to Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) when he pledged to him in late 2006 that he wanted “to go through a Senate confirmation” to get Tim Griffin installed as U.S. attorney. In truth, after hearing of Pryor’s opposition to Griffin, Gonzales and his chief of staff mobilized a plan to “gum the process to death,” run out the clock, and keep Griffin in office.
Angry over being lied to, Pryor said last month, “They didn’t proceed in good faith with me. And that’s one of the reasons why I think Attorney General Gonzales should resign immediately. I don’t think he has the credibility to run that department anymore.”
At the hearing on Thursday, Sen. Lindsey Graham offered some “personal advice” to Gonzales on the issue, which Gonzales pledged to take up:
GRAHAM: I would just advise you to sit down with [Pryor] and walk through what happened, because I think he’s a reasonable fellow, and you all straighten that out if you can.
GONZALES: Senator, I couldn’t agree more. I have a great deal of admiration for Senator Pryor, and I think that’s a good idea.
Apparently, Gonzales was paying mere lip service to Graham.
On Friday, Gonzales spent his day calling several conservative Senators, including John Cornyn and Arlen Specter. “The attorney general did call me today and he said he was just checking with senators to see how the hearing went,” Specter said Friday. But Gonzales couldn’t find time for Pryor:
[A]s of Friday afternoon, Gonzales had not reached out to Pryor, the senator’s communications director, Michael Teague, told U.S. News. Teague said Pryor’s “door is always open” and that the senator “doesn’t have any reservations” about meeting with Gonzales but is not sure “what good it would do at this point.”
“They not only wrote the E-mail, they implemented that E-mail,” says Teague. “And Griffin still holds that position.” Teague said Pryor still feels lied to and still wants Gonzales to resign.
Maybe Gonzales simply “cannot recall” what he said on Thursday.