October 28, 2005


This wasn't an October that the president would have sought, but it ends up going as well as he could possibly have hoped on the 4 issues that had hurt him most:

(1) Iraq: with folks talking about the constitution failing, it not only passed but by such huge margins that even the MSM has begun to figure out that this is just about a Sunni minority who want to keep their own version of Afrikaaner South Africa. Meanwhile, the UN dropped Syrian regime change in his lap and the new Iranian president has cleared the way for virtually any response the Administration chooses, while Tony Blair has taken the lead.

(2) Harriet Miers: it's at least conceivable, if unlikely, that Ms Miers wouldn't have gotten 50 votes in the Senate, while the President was stuck fighting his own party over the nomination. Instead, she manfully withdrew and by naming Samuel Alito on Monday he reunites the party--regardless of Mr. Alito's quality as a candidate, the mere fact that he's known as Scalito makes it mandatory for the Right to embrace him--and puts Democrats in the position of opposing a Catholic nominee.

(3) Red Ink: with Katrina raising hackles over deficit spending the Congress has at least rhetorically embraced some spending restraint while the Hurricane relief turns out not to be as expensive as first thought and the deficit for '05 comes in at a rather low 2.6% of GDP.

(4) The Yellowcake Kerfuffle: with folk talking of Dick Cheney being replaced, the prosecutor ends up finding no underlying crime and bringing just one token indictment that begs to be pled out as one count of lying to a grand jury, which means no jail time for the functionary who was charged.

Given how things might have gone, rather than Camp David resembling Dr. No's island this weekend, they'll be serving chicken salad sandwiches.

At Milestone in Inquiry, Rove, and the G.O.P., Breathe a Bit Easier (ANNE E. KORNBLUT, 10/29/05, NY Times)

After months of uncertainty and four grand jury appearances, Karl Rove escaped the worst possible outcome on Friday, and a collective sigh of relief swept the Bush administration and the Republican Party.

Mr. Rove remained under a legal cloud: not indicted, but still at the center of the unfinished business in the C.I.A. leak case. He was absent from public view for most of the day, and conspicuously avoided giving any appearance that he had begun to celebrate.

But several friends and colleagues said he had resumed his role as the ubiquitous adviser who has guided George W. Bush's political career since before Mr. Bush's days as Texas governor. Even as the administration somberly accepted the resignation of I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, a pall that had fallen over Mr. Rove's section of the West Wing seemed to lift. And Mr. Rove, who just two weeks earlier had seemed in grave danger of being charged with a crime, took comfort in having survived this important point in the case.

"The whole thing has been no fun, and debilitating, but not indicted is not indicted," said Ed Rogers, a Republican consultant and lobbyist. "It's binary: being indicted is real bad, and not being indicted is real good."

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 28, 2005 4:31 PM

Why chicken salad?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 28, 2005 5:01 PM

"with folk talking of Dick Cheney being replaced"

Was anyone doing that besides you?

Posted by: carter at October 28, 2005 5:03 PM

Robert: I assume because they turned chicken s*** into chicken salad.

Posted by: David Cohen at October 28, 2005 5:09 PM

Feathers David. Chicken feathers

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 28, 2005 5:17 PM

Wow. OK, OJ wins the "I found the pony!" award.

Posted by: John Resnick at October 28, 2005 5:26 PM



Posted by: oj at October 28, 2005 5:34 PM


If you can't accept that things turned out okay, then how would you describe an October 28, 2005 where: the constitution was defeated, Miers was marching to defeat in the Senate, the deficit went up 1% of GDP instead of down, and Rove and Cheney were indicted too.

The Apocalypse?

Posted by: oj at October 28, 2005 5:49 PM

OJ's a blues fan: "Been down so long, looks like up to me..."

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at October 28, 2005 6:22 PM

OJ: Didn't mean to insult you with feint praise. I totally agree things certainly could have been much worse. There is much for which to be thankful - including that it ain't worse than it is.

And, as always, the outlook from here is promising to be sure. That's what makes us conservatives, brother.

Posted by: John Resnick at October 28, 2005 6:28 PM

how many supreme court justices will kerry get to nominate ? oops, forgot he democrated. how about gore ? sorry, democrated again. at least the left controls the senate...oops sorry not that one either. the house ? no one there but us republicans. california gov ? nope. thank god the ny times is still flying high...what ? they are shedding staff and profits like the hindenburg landing ?! comrade, please, any little crumb to cheer up the cadres ? anything ?

i know, Kim Il Jung has a starring role in a hit movie! yes, that's it :)

Posted by: anon at October 28, 2005 6:45 PM


Down? We run everything. W gets to name a new Justic on Monday; the economy continues to grow; and the WoT is near won. What would up look like?

Posted by: oj at October 28, 2005 7:03 PM

Poor Rick P, Fitzmas came and went, and instead of the shiny new bike he asked Santa for, he only got a broken-down hand-me-down trike.

On the bright side, the storm-troopers of the Fascist Bush administration haven't thrown him into the gulag yet for bravely speaking truth to power.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at October 28, 2005 7:11 PM

When has the economy not "grown" since the Depression? What are the consequences for Bush not being able to name his proverbial "made man" to the SCotUS when his own version of the Nixon tapes case comes up? What possible victory in the GWoT with a near-nuclear Iran approaching de facto control of Iraq?

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at October 28, 2005 7:20 PM

During recessions which we haven't one of since Reagan.

Who gets to pick her replacement?

Iraq's constitution passed and we're turning over control of its defense. Everybody supports taking the regime out in Syria and Iran's president pretty much gave us license to nuke them, though Khamenei will slap him down before it comes to that.

Posted by: oj at October 28, 2005 7:26 PM

Reagan had far worse Octobers in 1986 and 1987. But he did have more goodwill among the conservative media base at those times than Bush does now.

That can change with the next Court nominee (as long as those same people realize their next fight is going to be keeping the Gang of 7 from going wobbly), and the remaining downed refineries get back in full operation by the time the first big winter cold front hits.

Posted by: John at October 28, 2005 7:29 PM

Funny, my president said every death in Iraq is an incident of terrorism. Maybe yours said something different.

And as someone who graduated during the early-90s Bush recession, I'd like to ask you to stop making things up.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at October 28, 2005 7:45 PM

You mean the 8-month recession that was the mildest in US history followed by the greatest peacetime expansion ever?

Posted by: Gideon at October 28, 2005 8:07 PM

Just read the indictment and watched the full press conference. You indeed have something to be proud of. He says you guys are really good crooks, and that's why he has to keep on investigating. Kudos.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at October 28, 2005 8:22 PM

OJ may be too optimistic but things should get better for Bush. After the Iraqi vote in December US troops begin to come home (hell even Kerry sees this happening and tried to get out in front). The economy is doing well despite the hurricanes and oil shocks. Assuming Bush names a justice the GOP base likes that will be a plus. And today Fitzgerald, after 2 years and MSM predictions of the downfall of Bush admin, comes up with no leak crime and some perjury charges that most on-line lawyers believe are a reach and will be difficult to get convictions on.

Are Bush and the GOP in the clear for '06? No, but less hurricanes, a good SC joice, oil prices down, and troops coming home indicate that they should be.

Posted by: AWW at October 28, 2005 8:43 PM

Yes. Things should go great. The trial, with Cheney and Rove under oath should prove especially ducky. I like this analysis:

"Considering that Libby consistently told the same false story to the grand jury and the FBI, I can’t help but think that he’s been set up to be the Administration’s sacrificial lamb. After all, according to the indictment “Official A”, Judy Miller, “the Under Secretary of State”, the “White House Press Secretary”, and “the Assistant to the Vice President for Public Affairs” all knew that Libby’s story about learning of Plame’s status from Tim Russert was without merit. Why would Libby be reckless enough to make his claims when any one of these people would have been able to discredit him? It defies logic to assume that Libby spoke to the FBI or the grand jury without discussing what he would say with his sources and/or fellow leakers. That being the case, did White House officials reassure Libby that they’d buttress his story only to later turn against him? If that turns out to be true, I’d expect Libby’s plea agreements to be…interesting, to say the least. There’s a damn good reason Fitzgerald says he’s “not quite done”. If Libby feels burned by the Administration, I think we can expect more fireworks."


Or maybe they're better crooks than that; huzzah, "Official A." Those see to me the two options. Again, kudos.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at October 28, 2005 8:51 PM

Rick: Is this going to have "Henry Cisneros" impact, or is it up in "Web Hubbel" territory?

Posted by: David Cohen at October 28, 2005 9:24 PM

brother perlstein, you seem unusually morose today ? the left is still tops in terms of people murdered by their own government, so you have that going for you. and you still control all the humanities departments, that's something to walk tall about. it's true that the left has been exposed as incompetent, amoral, cowards -- worldwide -- but...hmmm, well i guess that one does sting a bit. anyway, keep flinging the feces while the rest of us get on with running the world.

Posted by: ward churchill at October 28, 2005 9:27 PM


The committee that dates such things has said that eventually won't even qualify as one. It just takes decades to add up all the economic numbers.

None of the deaths in Iraq are about terrorism, just about democratizing the Middle East. Calling it a War on Terror is for political consumption.

Posted by: oj at October 28, 2005 9:28 PM


Trial? Why would it ever go to trial? Libby won't even have to do jail time if he pleads to one count of false statements before the grand jury and then W pardons him on the way out the door.

Posted by: oj at October 28, 2005 9:30 PM


If the plan was for Libby to be the fall guy, why not have him do it by telling the truth? That would have left nothing for him to be charged with, evidently.

You're supposing a conspiracy of idiots when a single idiot suffices.

Posted by: Mike Earl at October 28, 2005 9:33 PM


If you watched Fitzgerald you saw that he has nothing on the outing, because it wasn't a crime, and that he's made at Libby personally for lying repeatedly. One bad apple doesn't spoil the whole barrel though.

Posted by: oj at October 28, 2005 9:35 PM

Rick, congratulations on your Goldwater book. I was 14 in 1964, and knocked on doors and passed out literature here in Tennessee for Goldwater. We were doing well, we thought-- then he said he would privatize TVA. Oops. Seriously, though, you captured a lot about the atmosphere of those times.

As to OJ's larger point, he's right. This was a bad month, the culmination of what has looked like a drift. The key is that this is October 2005, not October 2006.

As for Libby, he clearly decided to take one for the team. The indictment has all the apperances, to me, of something I've seen before-- the kind of document where the prosecutor is revealing that he would have madethe guy one hell of an offer, but the dumb SOB wouldn't take it.

Except no one who knows Libby says he's dumb. Look again at the indictment, and look how many times it uses the word "classified" or "Classified information." Each and every one of those usages will be subject to review, negotiation, motions and hearings under the Classified Information Procedures Act, CIPA. By the time that is done, at least a year will have gone by, if not more. The indictment will, inevitably, look like Swiss Cheese-- if it survives at all. Some don't, and Fitzgerald has little to say about it-- the real battles under CIPA come from the CIA (which gets to participate through it's own counsel, not Fitzgerald), the defense lawyers and the Judge. I have not looked at the Act in several years, but my memory is that the Court's rulings can be appealed pre-trial, which is not usually the case in criminal procedure issues, so that would be another year or so tacked on.

So, any trial is a long way away, if it ever happens. Libby has little incentive to roll. By the time a trial is over, appeals taken, briefed, argued, etc. we will be at January 2009. GWB will not leave Libby on the battlefield, just as his father didn't leave Cap.

And Libby clearly did go down in the cause. I think he realized that he had made a mistake, but figured, probably correctly, that word of that getting out would tip the election to Kerry. I think his cover story was brilliant-- he got the investigation headeed in a direction that would absolutely require it to go after the reporter's testimony, which he knew they would oppose, and which he knew would move the story back until after the election. I tried to tell Josh Marshall right after the neews of the CIA referral came out, not knowing who the leaker was, but knowing that there was every opportunity to keep the truth from coming out until after the election.

I can see Libby's reasonong, can't you? "I may have stepped over the line, I may even deserve to go to jail, but John Kerry doesn't deserve to go to jail because of it." Any other course would have given momnetum to the "Bush lied us into war" meme and changed the results of the election.

A weak hand, brilliantly played. Libby should get more than a pardon, I'd say a Presidential Medal of Freedom. And one should also go to whoever made the criminal referral. It essentially kept the issue to a minimum of public interest, an inside baseball kind of thing that never gained any traction for Kerry.

Posted by: Dan at October 28, 2005 9:37 PM


Yes, the strange thing is just how many other people would have had to lie for Libby to get away with his lies--assuming for the moment that the presentation of the facts is accurate. His saying he had no idea whether Wilson was even married is particularly odd, unless he meant only that this was a formulation he used in talking to reporters.

Posted by: oj at October 28, 2005 9:38 PM


It was more than justified to expose the CIA shenanigans, but because of that there was no reason to lie about. From the presentation before us he lied needlessly.

Posted by: oj at October 28, 2005 9:42 PM

"You're supposing a conspiracy of idiots when a single idiot suffices."

But a conspiracy of idiots is how the Clinton people did it, and look at how well it turned out for all of them. (Unless you were the aforementioned Web Hubbel. Or Susan MacDougal. Or Vince Foster.)

But really, after five years of trying, this is the best scandal the Left can come up with? And they are proud of it?

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at October 28, 2005 9:47 PM



The discovery (if it is permitted) regarding the press and possibly even the Wilsons, will be a thing to behold. And while it appears that Russert got a pass today, Nick Kristof is hanging out, and what will Judy have to say about that?

This is worst possible outcome for the Senate Democrats, because now they will have a fight on their hands with a more energized GOP Senate. Even Arlen Specter knows that the press is not his 'friend' unless he dances for them, and I don't think he will now.

Posted by: ratbert at October 28, 2005 10:01 PM


You sound like a former federal prosecutor. Beautiful analysis. I handled some cases like this as an Ass't U.S. Attorney, and I particularly enjoyed your reading of the indictment as "the kind of document where the prosecutor is revealing that he would have made the guy one hell of an offer, but the dumb SOB wouldn't take it." I fully agree with you. I really doubt that Fitzgerald wants to try Libby, so I can forsee even a misdemeanor plea deal, a la Elliot Abrams. If Fitzgerald does have to try the case, I'm thinking the result might be exoneration like Raymond Donovan (Reagan's Secretary of Labor) achieved. And the classified documents evidentiary hassles . . . oh, boy, those are tough to deal with when even spies are on trial, much less having to go through the same hassle with these piddling charges.

Finally, doesn't the Justice Department (and therefore the President) ultimately decide whether classified information can be revealed in a prosecution, even at the risk that a court will dismiss the case if disclosure is not allowed by the Executive Branch, in cases of prosecutions brought by a Special Prosecutor. I know that was true when I brought a prosecution as a Justice Department employee, and assume that the special status of a Special Prosecutor doesn't rob the Executive Branch from deciding whether to disclose matters which may affect the national security.

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at October 28, 2005 11:10 PM


Substantively, I agree, but just as "the SOB deserved to die" isn't a legal defense to a murder charge but might work, a defense of "I leaked the name because Wilson was a liar fronting for a bunch of weasel squishes at the CIA" wouldn't be my first choice for testimony in front of a grand jury. However, the one thing I would have done differently would ahve been to go into Mr. Fitzgerald's office the morning after the election and ask him to convene the GJ, then I would have spilled my guts. That would at least have taken perjusry off the table.

I really believe that Libby simply made a political calculation-- keep the lid on until after the election.

Posted by: Dan at October 28, 2005 11:10 PM

This thing will go on for another year. I will enjoy it. You will not.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at October 28, 2005 11:39 PM

i am enjoying the bitterness on display by the left (over the big goose egg) already. and when the democrats lose even more seats in 2006, i will be enjoying it all the more. get used to losing, because your party is dead to any good american.

Posted by: anon at October 29, 2005 5:13 AM


Could even bump Scooter's name recognition from 2% to 2.5%.

It can't drag on long enough to suit us, it's been hilarious:


Posted by: oj at October 29, 2005 7:24 AM


What will you be saying the week that Tom DeLay's case is dropped like a pet rock, and then Scooter is either discharged or pleads to a misdemeanor? That Bush/Rove arranged it all? Or that the mighty Fitz proved to be just a fizzle?

But you can always go back and hang your hat on the 2% poll.

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 29, 2005 8:09 AM


gua·no n. pl. gua·nos

1. A substance composed chiefly of the dung of sea birds or bats, accumulated along certain coastal areas or in caves and used as fertilizer.
2. Any of various similar substances, such as a fertilizer prepared from ground fish parts.

[Spanish, from Quechua huanu, dung.]

Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 29, 2005 10:56 AM

OJ: He is your friend, you make the garlic bread.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 29, 2005 10:57 AM


I am not a former or current federal prosecutor, just a poor but honest country lawyer. I have dealt with AUSA's and GJ's though, and I once had a case related to a crime that happened in a contract fraud situation with the DOD where, to my great surprise, CIPA was a potential issue. I read up on the requirements, talked to some DC lawyers I knew, and told my client that if the case developed in that direction, he could probably stay out of jail for as long as he could continue to pay me. But, as the case went forward, interest in my guy lessened, and we ultimately skated.

I am pretty sure you are correct in your analysis, though. Fitzpatrick essentially stands in the shoes of any other prosecutor. As I remember hte rules, DOJ would listen to his opinions about disclosures, but their decisions as to whether evidence would be declassified would be controlled in large part by the views of the agency (here, the CIA, I guess) which is ultimately an executive branch decision.

Posted by: Dan at October 29, 2005 12:00 PM

here is something for comrade perlstein to chew on: when the democrats lose the 2008 presidential election (and they will) the scotus will become completely composed of republican picks. now that is going to be an epoch. sweet dreams fellow cadres, sweet dreams.

Posted by: ward churchill at October 29, 2005 2:12 PM