July 23, 2007

Heir Time

At first glance, the Democratic nominee for president in 1960, John Fitzgerald Kennedy—the millionaire Caucasian war hero for whom I worked for eleven golden years—seems notably different from the most interesting candidate for next year's nomination, Senator Barack Obama. But when does a difference make a difference? Different times, issues, and electors make any meaningful comparison unlikely.

Oh Brother
12:00 AM

Edgar Allen Gregory and his wife, Vonna Jo, were distressed. It was December 1999, and the couple, owners of the Tennessee-based carnival company United Shows of America, had applied for a presidential pardon nearly a year and a half earlier in the hopes that President Clinton would wipe out their 1982 bank fraud convictions. But the Gregorys couldn't get the president's attention. So they went to someone who could--First Lady Hillary Clinton's kid brother, Tony Rodham.

Final Resolution
12:00 AM

As a rising St. Louis politician in the mid-1970s, Richard Gephardt was among a dynamic group of aldermen dubbed "The Young Turks." So perhaps it's not surprising that, 30 years later, the former Democratic minority leader of the House of Representatives has aged into an Old Turk. This spring, Gephardt has been busy promoting his new favorite cause--not universal health care or Iraq, but the Republic of Turkey, which now pays his lobbying firm, DLA Piper, $100,000 per month for his services.

July 21, 2007

Reactionary Democrats

I agree with MoveOn, or at least I agree with MoveOn that Congressman John Dingell (Dem., Mich.) is a "dinosaur." Or a "dingellsaurus," as the organization puts it. But he is not fossil. He is very much alive, and it is as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce committee that he does his malicious mischief. As today's Times points out, "Mr. Dingell's committee has approved a measure that omits any change in fuel-economy requirements." He is a big fan of big cars that use lots of oil. After all, he represents Michigan where, well, SUVs are made. This is no Republican.

July 20, 2007

Utter Contempt

This story in the Post today is absolutely incredible--if unsurprising. The White House has refused to let Harriet Miers testify before Congress, citing executive privilege. Congress has threatened to charge her with contempt. But now the Bush administration has responded by saying that the Justice Department will never pursue contempt charges against Miers or any other official who invokes executive privilege.

Constitutional Gridlock And Presidential Dictatorship

By Sanford Levinson I'm about to go off to New Zealand, one of the last countries in the world not to have a written constitution and to be firmly committed to parliamentary sovereignty (though some judges are reasonably forceful in enforcing the relatively new Bill of Rights (that, however, explicitly denies the power of what we call "judicial review," i.e., the ability of courts to invalidate legislation).

July 19, 2007

From The Annals Of Inept Damage Control

The Los Angleles Times, July 7: [Fred] Thompson spokesman Mark Corallo adamantly denied that Thompson worked for [the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Assn.] "Fred Thompson did not lobby for this group, period," he said in an e-mail. In a telephone interview, he added: "There's no documents to prove it, there's no billing records, and Thompson says he has no recollection of it, says it didn't happen." The New York Times, July 19: Billing records show that former Senator Fred Thompson spent nearly 20 hours working as a lobbyist on behalf of a group seeking to ease restrictive fe

Czar And Away

Steve Benen tries to figure out whatever happened to the administration's "war czar." Answer: He's still around, sort of--if you squint real hard, sometimes you can even spot him lurking at press conferences. --Bradford Plumer

July 18, 2007

Bigmouth Strikes Again

George W. Bush, 2002 State of the Union address: My hope is that all nations will heed our call, and eliminate the terrorist parasites who threaten their countries and our own. Many nations are acting forcefully. Pakistan is now cracking down on terror, and I admire the strong leadership of President Musharraf. But some governments will be timid in the face of terror.

Why So Secretive?

The Washington Post finally manages to figure out who met with Cheney's secret energy task force in 2001: One of the first visitors, on Feb. 14, was James J. Rouse, then vice president of Exxon Mobil and a major donor to the Bush inauguration; a week later, longtime Bush supporter Kenneth L. Lay, then head of Enron Corp., came by for the first of two meetings.