February 23, 2006

Hey, I'm Just The Cheerleader, Not The Real Leader!

Bush Unaware of Ports Deal Before Approval:
"He became aware of it over the last several days," McClellan said. Asked if Bush did not know about it until it was a done deal, McClellan said, "That's correct."
And from TPM:
The NY Times reported today that the law governing this sort of deal, when "the acquiring company is controlled by or acting on behalf of a foreign government," requires a "mandatory," 45-day investigation. That was never done, and what's more, "Administration officials ... could not say why a 45-day investigation did not occur."
So Bush didn't know about this deal, which was done on the sly, yet is still up there in front of the cameras, aggressively demanding that it be passed.

You could almost shrug that off, except that there is definitely a pattern emerging here:
President Bush, on a three-state trip to promote his energy policy, said Tuesday that a budgeting mix-up was the reason 32 workers at one of the nation's premier renewable energy labs were laid off and then reinstated just before his visit.

Bush addressed the funding problem as soon as he began speaking here at the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which is developing the sort of renewable energy technologies the president is promoting.

"Sometimes, decisions made as the result of the appropriations process, the money may not end up where it was supposed to have gone," Bush said.
With Rove still fighting off the Fitzgerald enquiry and Cheney bogged down with good old-fashioned public accountability for shooting a man in the face, the level of incompetence in the White House seems to be plummeting new lows. So who's in charge these days?

No wonder increasing numbers of US citizens are worried about what happens when the next disaster strikes:
The AP-Ipsos poll, which surveyed 1,000 adults Feb. 13-16 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, also found a nearly mirror-image split between Republicans and Democrats on the issue of handling the next major disaster.

Nearly three in four Republicans, 70 percent, said they were confident in the government's readiness. Almost the same proportion of Democrats, 72 percent, said they were not confident.

But the poll also found a striking drop in confidence among Republicans in whether the federal money earmarked for Gulf Coast recovery was being spent responsibly.

In mid-September, 60 percent of Republicans said they believed that money was being spent wisely. That figure has now dropped to just 37 percent. For Democrats, the figure has dropped from 47 percent five months ago to 30 percent today.
Heckuva job, George...

UPDATE: Dan Froomkin doesn't hold anything back:
With President Bush's credibility damaged and his political clout eroded, maybe it was just a matter of time before "trust me" didn't hack it anymore -- even with his most loyal supporters in Congress...

Suddenly, it's Bush who is on the receiving end of scathing critiques that he is weak on terror and oblivious to post-9/11 realities...

So look for White House Plan B, which is to remain steadfast in public while crafting a private retreat that is ultimately spun as a Bush victory.

Not once in Bush's five years as president has he gone to Plan C -- a veto. And while Bush threatened one yesterday, using his very first veto in the face of so much public flak would be a dramatic political defeat. Having that veto overridden would be a debacle.

One question that kept coming up yesterday: Why is this so important to Bush? There's a lot of speculation below. Bush himself says it's about fair play. Some critics suggest he puts free-market corporate values ahead of literally everything else. Or could it be that the White House is concerned that any sign of backing down to Congress on anything right now would be seen as the official start of its slide into lame-duck status?

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