Redefining Success

For some time now, people have been saying that, when Gen. David Petraeus testifies about the "surge" in September, Republicans are going to start hopping off the war train if things haven't turned around. (That was supposedly the upshot of the meeting between 11 House Republicans and President Bush earlier this month.) But that left open the possibility that the White House would just send Petraeus to Congress to claim success no matter what was happening. And, according to Julian Barnes of the Los Angeles Times, that's precisely what's going to happen: U.S.

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Hillary Clinton spent last weekend in Iowa; in fact, she had no choice. After The New York Times published a confidential memo from her deputy campaign manager, Mike Henry, arguing that her campaign should skip the Iowa caucuses, she had to reassure the most sensitive group of voters in the nation that she would pay them due respect.

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Barnes Watch

"Comprehensive" immigration fan Fred Barnes (he, um, tends to take the White House's line) has a new piece on conservatives balking at the compromise bill working its way through the senate. Here's his lede: Don't listen to Teddy Kennedy. If you belong to the small band of conservative brothers inclined to support immigration reform, the Massachusetts senator is on your side. But what he says is likely to make you anxious, vexed, or even crazed.

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White House political director Sara Taylor--a Karl Rove loyalist who apparently had a fishy role in the US Attorney scandal--is leaving the administration. --Michael Crowley

Remember the Lincoln Bedroom? Sure, it was part of the Republican talking points during the Clinton administration, when the White House was described as being something akin to a Motel 8, mentioned in the same breath as Vince Foster, Whitewater and Arkansas state troopers. But there was always something unseemly about the Clintons using the presidential residence as a barter system for Democratic party (and, more specifically, Friends of Bill) bigwigs.

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Keeping It Real

by Michael Kazin If recent media reports are credible, several of the leading candidates for president are conniving, unpleasant frauds. John Edwards feels uncomfortable around gay people and made millions working for a hedge fund while supposedly dedicating himself to fighting poverty; Hillary Clinton didn't bother reading the intelligence report on Iraq before voting to authorize the war and has stuck to her marriage only because it might help her get elected; and Mitt Romney reverses his positions on key social issues and explains it as a maturing process.

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This promises to set back Kazakhstan's "we are a classy modern nation" anti-Borat propaganda campaign: The Interior Ministry said it had begun a criminal investigation into allegations that President Nursultan A. Nazarbayev's son-in-law, Rakhat Aliev, left, who is also the ambassador to Austria, kidnapped and beat two officers of the Kazakh bank Nurbank as part of a real estate and stock extortion scheme. Mr. Aliev's wife, Dariga Nazarbayeva, is a high-profile member of Parliament often mentioned as a possible successor to her father.

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Apologies if someone has beaten me to this, but how long before we're using "Goodling" as a common noun meaning hyper-partisan hack? To wit: The Bush administration cleaned house at FEMA and repopulated it with a bunch of goodlings. Or: The Bush administration canned several U.S. attorneys in order to install a bunch of goodlings. Or: The White House dispatched a bunch of goodlings to run the CPA in Iraq... You get the idea. --Noam Scheiber

Alberto Gonzalez may seem, from his own descriptions, to have had little or nothing to do with running the Justice Department over the past year. But he does appear to have at least had some top-down influence on the form of his subordinates' non-denial denials when facing congressional inquiries. Last month, I noted the odd locution Gonzalez favored in a Washington Post op-ed professing his innocence ("I know that I did not -- and would not -- ask for the resignation of any U.S. attorney for an improper reason").

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Kerrey Knows

The Democrats have been rescued by their own weakness from a political catastrophe. They could not override the president's veto of any bill that at once appropriated money for the war in Iraq and set terms for when that war must end. So they passed on the whole business, all that preening and political hauteur notwithstanding. It would be morally contemptuous to provide resources for our fighting men and women while setting the terms of American withdrawal from the country.

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