Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Some people on the left actually think George W. Bush will find an excuse to suspend the 2008 elections so he won't have to give up the presidency when his term ends. I think that's really far-fetched -- but, judging from this story, I'd say he has a desperate need to be the de facto president after his term ends:

Examiner Exclusive: Bush quietly advising Hillary Clinton, top Democrats

President Bush is quietly providing back-channel advice to Hillary Rodham Clinton, urging her to modulate her rhetoric so she can effectively prosecute the war in Iraq if elected president.

... White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten ... said Bush wants enough continuity in his Iraq policy that "even a Democratic president would be in a position to sustain a legitimate presence there."

"Especially if it’s a Democrat," the chief of staff told The Examiner in his West Wing office. "He wants to create the conditions where a Democrat not only will have the leeway, but the obligation to see it out."

...To that end, Bush is institutionalizing controversial anti-terror programs so they can be used by the next president.

"Look, I'd like to make as many hard decisions as I can make, and do a lot of the heavy lifting prior to whoever my successor is," Bush said. "And then that person is going to have to come and look at the same data I've been looking at, and come to their own conclusion."

As an example, Bush cited his detainee program, which allows him to keep enemy combatants imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay while they await adjudication....

I'm not sure I understand that -- we know Bush isn't going to close Gitmo, but what is he doing to "institutionalize" this and other controversial programs, beyond what he's already done? Is he gumming up the works in some way so an incoming president who's a Democrat will find it harder than expected to undo his legacy?

This article, and the book it's based on, The Evangelical President, are both written by Bill Sammon, a right-wing apparatchik journalist best known, perhaps, for the bestseller At Any Cost: How Al Gore Tried to Steal the Election. Besides reporting on Bush's desperate need to still have it all be about him even after he leaves office, I think Sammon is doing another service for the president.

Consider this passage:

A senior White House official said the administration did not put much stock in pledges by Democratic presidential candidates to swiftly end the Iraq war if elected....

"... there is a recognition by most of them that there has to be a long-term presence by the United States if we hope to avoid America being brought back into the region in a very precarious way, at a point where all-out resources are required."

...So far, Bush has been encouraged by the fact that Democratic candidates are preserving enough wiggle room in their anti-war rhetoric to enable them to keep at least some troops in Iraq.

"If you listen carefully, there are Democrats that say, 'Well, there needs to be some kind of presence,'" Bush said....

The Republicans are trying to inject a message into the discussion: that voters who are desperate for an end to the war shouldn't count on the Democratic nominee to actually bring it to a conclusion. The hope is that if enough pundits pick up on this and if it becomes conventional wisdom, the Democratic vote will be suppressed -- liberal war opponents will vote for a lefty third party or just stay home, while non-liberal war opponents, operating on the assumption that neither candidate will end the war soon, will reconsider the Republican, who by then will probably be floating hints of, in effect, a "secret plan" for "peace with honor."

Watch for this meme in the next year. It will be a real problem for the Democratic nominee.

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