Notes from the political sidelines.
Oct. 28 2005 1:48 PM


Why Bush should tell Rove to follow in Miers's footsteps.


Friday, Oct. 28, 2005

Know When to Fold 'Em, Part One: It's a sure sign of how far the Bush White House has fallen that it's considered a good day when only one top aide gets a criminal indictment. Soon they'll be breaking glass and pulling out the last, desperate spin: Better than Nixon.

Meanwhile, Republican sages around Washington are dusting off time-tested search-and-recovery plans from past disasters. The details vary in one respect -- James Baker or Howard Baker? -- but share a common theme: bring in ancient, unindicted wise men to give your administration a whole new look. In addition to their wisdom and experience, these men bring along another important characteristic: in our criminal justice system, the older you get, the less likely you are to commit a crime.


Bush could certainly benefit from better advice. But those sages have read enough polls and played enough poker to know that when you're holding a three and a nine, you'd be better off throwing in the whole hand.

At this point, the one way Bush can salvage his administration isn't to bring new people in - it's to fire some of the crowd he's got. In that respect, Fitzgerald has done Bush an enormous favor by providing Karl Rove with a stay of execution. If Bush wants to stop the bleeding, he will get out of his defensive crouch and say to Rove: For the sake of the country and the Presidency, it's time for you to go.

If Bush starts holding his White House to the highest possible standard, he might withstand blows that may await him down the road. If the President's standard is more like unindicted co-conspirator, all the Bakers in the world will find even "better than Nixon" to be a stretch. ...  10:43 A.M. (link)

Know When to Fold 'Em, Part Two: It's Hari-Kari Week at the White House, as Bush aides – loyal to the last – line up to take the fall. Give Harriet Miers credit: she wasn't Supreme Court material, but she could proofread the writing on the wall.

Democrats, already fighting the next war, blame the far right for making Miers a victim of human sacrifice. Miers's catty colleagues in the administration are already blaming her for not having what it takes.

But if Miers is a victim, it's at the hand of President Bush. Dick Cheney may well have picked himself as Vice President in 2000, but Miers didn't orchestrate the Supreme Court selection process to her own advantage. Her only sin was to tell Bush yes.

Exit, Stage Right: Her withdrawal is rich with irony. In a turgid letter to Bush, Miers wrote, "Protection of the prerogatives of the Executive Branch and continued pursuit of my confirmation are in tension. I have decided that seeking my confirmation should yield."