Wednesday Morning Quick Hits
Bush's approval rating has climbed in the most recent CBS News/NYT poll, from a 45%-47% approve/disapprove before the "capture" of Saddam, to a 52%-38% approve/disapprove after. The overall numbers according to the NYT after the poll was concluded shows now a 58%-33% split, but the sample size on the back end of that poll was a small 635 respondents. Those polled still maintained great concern over Bush’s plans (or lack of them) in Iraq.
James Baker's appointment as special envoy to reduce the Iraqi foreign debt was paying off already when France, Germany, and the US agreed that countries should work towards debt reduction. But neither country committed to any specific amount, saying that will have to be worked out in future negotiations, and Russia is still steadfast against even committing to any reduction.
Bill Safire of all people tears Bush/Cheney a new one over their insistence that the Cheney Energy Task Force documents remain privileged.
Are Republicans out of their collective mind? Why the hots to hide? A decade ago, Hillary Clinton tried to pull the same kind of wool over the people's eyes about her health care task force, but the D.C. appeals court ruled that her consultants were "de facto members" of the official group and stripped away the secrecy.
Remember how we raised the roof about all those phony executive privilege claims as Clinton lawyers tried to jam a cone of silence on top of Secret Service agents? Remember how we fought for the right of Paula Jones to subject the high and mighty to discovery? What is sauce for the Clintons is sauce for the Bushies.
The principle of the thing is wrong. Of course the president's cabinet and staff should be able to offer reasonable confidentiality to outsiders in return for candid advice. But when it comes to domestic legislation and not sensitive national-security affairs, the names and the advice of outside consultants and lobbyists should be discoverable according to law.
How's this for a practical principle: don't use a sledgehammer to swat a gnat. The Supreme Court, courageously and at some cost, did its bit for the Bush administration's electoral legitimacy. It should not now be called upon at re-election time to erect a high barrier to finding out who is advising whom about the public's business behind closed doors.
Yikes. You go Bill.
Bruce Hoffman, a RAND terrorism expert, makes the case that Saddam's "capture" is a smoke screen that Osama Bin Laden is using while he spreads Al Qaeda elsewhere almost unimpeded. And while Al Qaeda spreads elsewhere and still makes the US commit valuable resources to our perceived "victory" in Iraq, they have been having no problem recruiting new talent from Europe to go into Iraq and pin us down further.
Environmentalists and sportsmen won one when the Bush EPA backed off of plans to reduce wetlands protection after receiving over 130,000 complaints to proposed rules.
The Kerry campaign is mad at the NYT for outing their effort to provide reporters with evidence of Howard Dean's past comments on Iraq. After sending out an email of a "truth squad" summary of Dean's past statements (where did that phrase come from, BTW?), and asking that reporters only source it to background rather than a campaign staffer, Adam Nagourney of the NYT reported which staffer the material came from. What's lost here are several things: 1) the Kerry campaign tried this while knowing that Nagourney had outted other campaigns for doing the same thing, 2) Nagourney goes pro-Bush when it suits him, and 3) overlooked in all of this hubbub are Dean's statements.
A new Section 527 progressive values group with past ties to Dick Gephardt is running a TV ad that borrows from a GOP tactic by using a picture of Osama Bin Laden in attacking Howard Dean. Although Dean's campaign has called for the ads to stop, they continue to run.