Earlier this week the mainstream press was awash with stories of this being President Bush’s “worst week ever.” We’ll forgive them their hyperbole since their evidence was pretty strong: looming indictments in the Plame case; the faltering Miers nomination; and the 2000th military death in Iraq.
Magically just a few days later the sun is shining brightly on the White House again. How so?
For starters. I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Jr. was the only administration official indicted in the Plame case, and he was only indicted (in essence) for lying about his conversations with journalists. At his press conference (liveblogged by Michelle Malkin) Fitzgerald said, “We have not made any allegation that Libby knowingly/intentionally outed a covert agent.” They also haven’t accused anyone else in the administration with any wrong doing. Fitzgerald also said, “This indictment is not about the war. Not about the propriety of the war. This is stripped of that debate and focused on a narrow transaction…” Today the hopes of liberal Bush critics have been severely dashed by the limited scope of Fitzgerald’s indictments. As Paul Mirengoff at Powerline notes, “the political fall-out is likely to be almost non-existent.“
Next, the withdrawal of Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme Court ends a particularly contentious inter-squad fight for Republicans. With reports that the new nominee is likely to be either Samuel A. Alito, Jr. or J. Michael Lutting, the expected Monday announcement will make the Miers nomination a distant memory.
If the new Supreme Count nominee is announced Monday the Plame case will quickly be drained of any energy that is still left after this weekends talk shows.
When the new nominee is announced the left is sure to raise a fuss. Assuming that Bush follows through on his campaign pledge to nominate a justice in the mold of Scalia and Thomas the right, and the punditocracy, will quickly engage as they did with Chief Justice Roberts nomination. In that case President Bush’s poll numbers are sure to head upward as an energized base prepares for a confirmation battle of historic proportions. The reason Bush’s poll numbers are so low now is that the Miers nomination has temporarily turned off a lot people who voted for Bush. You don’t get below 40% approval ratings without a lot of Republicans checking the “disapprove” box – a condition that should prove to be temporary.
Turning all of the negatives of last week around is well within the reach of the White House. It all starts with the Supreme Court nominee…
As for Iraq, in case you’ve forgotten, we already won that war…