- The Washington Times - Friday, October 28, 2005

Today’s the day

Two key White House aides await their fate in the CIA leak probe after a prosecutor spent three hours before a grand jury that could hand up indictments and rock the Bush administration.

A spokesman for the prosecutor said there would be no public announcements before today, the day the grand jury’s term expires.

The White House braced for the possibility that Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, could become a criminal defendant by the end of the week. President Bush’s top political adviser, Karl Rove, remained in jeopardy of being charged with making false statements.

Mr. Libby and Mr. Rove arrived for work at the White House yesterday as usual, the Associated Press reports. Mr. Rove attended the daily meeting of the senior staff, but Mr. Libby did not and was said to be in a security briefing. Mr. Libby misses the senior staff meeting about half the time because of intelligence briefings and other issues on Mr. Cheney’s schedule, an official said.

Randall Samborn, a spokesman for special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, said yesterday that his boss had no comment on the case.

DeLay’s warning

Rep. Tom DeLay, who has been indicted on charges of campaign-finance violations, railed against Democrats in a letter yesterday, accusing them of engaging in “the politics of personal destruction.”

The letter, sent to constituents and contributors, connected his case with investigations into possible misconduct by White House adviser Karl Rove and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

“What we’re fighting is so much larger than a single court case or a single district attorney in Travis County,” the Texas Republican wrote. “We are witnessing the criminalization of conservative politics.”

The letter was prepared for the Republican Party newsletter in Mr. DeLay’s home county of Fort Bend. County Republican Party Chairman Eric Thode said he also e-mailed it to about 2,000 Fort Bend County households and to elected officials and party leaders.

Dialing for dummies

Evidence of increasing incompetence at the White House extends beyond the now-failed nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine writes.

Noting the lukewarm press reaction to President Bush’s recent proposed crackdown on illegal immigration, Mr. Mulshine said: “What accounts for the lack of news coverage on such a big story? I suspect it’s simply that no one takes Bush seriously anymore.”

Furthermore, Mr. Mulshine said, reporters knew weeks ago that White House political adviser Karl Rove was considering such a proposal.

“Any journalist who looked into it would have come across that fax sent to Rove last month by U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith suggesting the strategy that emerged last week.

” ‘Enforcement of immigration laws, current and new, should come first to satisfy the increasing public demand for border security,’ wrote Smith, a Republican from San Antonio.

” ‘Liberals can easily and accurately be painted as opposing enforcement,’ Smith added. ‘Only then, as enforcement begins to gain traction, should the twin programs of guest workers and long-term illegal residents begin to be addressed.’

“Brilliant. Except that someone in Smith’s office dialed the wrong number and sent the fax to a Democrat. Before long it was posted on the Internet, where it outraged both liberals and conservatives. The liberals were upset for obvious reasons. The conservatives were upset because the fax showed that they were once again being taken for fools by a bunch of Texans too dumb to dial a phone.”

Getting ‘miered’

Is “miered” the new “borked”?

Robert Bork’s failed nomination to the Supreme Court in 1987 spawned the verb “borked,” defined loosely as getting rejected in an unseemly, even unfair, manner.

Now there is talk online about whether Harriet Miers’ withdrawal of her nomination to the high court will give rise to the term “miered,” the Associated Press reports.

Although liberals led the opposition to Mr. Bork, it was conservatives who brought down Miss Miers’ nomination.

A contributor to the Reform Club, a right-leaning blog, wrote that to get “borked” was “to be unscrupulously torpedoed by an opponent,” while to get “miered” was to be “unscrupulously torpedoed by an ally.”

S.T. Karnick, co-editor of the Reform Club, elaborated.

“If you have a president who is willing to instigate a big controversy, the prospect of being ‘borked’ will be the major possibility,” he said. “But if you have a president who is always trying to get consensus, then it’s much more likely that nominees will get ‘miered.’ ”

A contributor to National Review Online suggested that “to mier” means “to put your own allies in the most untenable position possible based upon exceptionally bad decision-making.”

Dis-torted

“The first thing we do — let’s kill all the lawyers.”

The House didn’t go quite as far as Shakespeare’s Dick the Butcher advocated, but the chamber’s Republicans yesterday passed a bill on a 228-184 vote that would take away lawyers’ licenses if they repeatedly file frivolous lawsuits.

Supporters of the bill said lawsuits deemed baseless by a judge because of flimsy facts or faulty interpretations of the law are a waste of court time and often a bonanza for lawyers — rather than a chance to recoup legitimate damages for clients.

“All they want is for the defendant to settle,” Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican, said of the lawyers in such cases. “This is legalized extortion.”

The bill would suspend for a year the licenses of lawyers who file three claims judged to be frivolous in any judicial circuit, according to the Associated Press.

Voting for the bill, which the White House called “a step in the right direction,” were 16 Democrats and 212 Republicans. Voting against were 178 Democrats, five Republicans and one independent.

No Senate vote is expected this year.

Inside the moat

“One of the reasons some of us have felt discomfort regarding President Bush’s leadership the past year or so is that he makes more than the usual number of decisions that seem to be looking for trouble,” Peggy Noonan, who worked in the Bush re-election campaign, writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“He makes startling choices, as in the [Harriet] Miers case. But you don’t have to look for trouble in life, it will find you, especially when you’re president. It knows your address. A White House is a castle surrounded by a moat, and the moat is called trouble, and the rain will come and the moat will rise. You should buy some boots, do your work, hope for the best.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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