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Book Tells Of Dissent In Bush's Inner Circle

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/02/AR2007090201422.html?wpisrc=newsletter Book Tells Of Dissent In Bush s Inner Circle White House
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 3, 2007
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      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/02/AR2007090201422.html?wpisrc=newsletter

      Book Tells Of Dissent In Bush's Inner Circle
      White House Granted Author Unusual Access

      By Michael Abramowitz
      Washington Post Staff Writer
      Monday, September 3, 2007; Page A01

      Karl Rove told George W. Bush before the 2000 election
      that it was a bad idea to name Richard B. Cheney as
      his running mate, and Rove later raised objections to
      the nomination of Harriet E. Miers to the Supreme
      Court, according to a new book on the Bush presidency.

      In "Dead Certain: The Presidency of George Bush,"
      journalist Robert Draper writes that Rove told Bush he
      should not tap Cheney for the Republican ticket:
      "Selecting Daddy's top foreign-policy guru ran counter
      to message. It was worse than a safe pick -- it was
      needy." But Bush did not care -- he was comfortable
      with Cheney and "saw no harm in giving his VP
      unprecedented run of the place."

      When Rove, President Bush's top political adviser,
      expressed concerns about the Miers selection, he was
      "shouted down" and subsequently muted his objections,
      Draper writes, while other advisers did not realize
      the outcry the nomination would cause within the
      president's conservative political base.

      It was John G. Roberts Jr., now the chief justice of
      the United States, who suggested Miers to Bush as a
      possible Supreme Court justice, according to the book.
      Miers, the White House counsel and a Bush loyalist
      from Texas, did not want the job, but Bush and first
      lady Laura Bush prevailed on her to accept the
      nomination, Draper writes.

      After Miers withdrew in the face of the conservative
      furor, Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. was selected and
      confirmed for the seat.

      Roberts rejected Draper's report when asked about it
      last night.

      "The account is not true," said Supreme Court
      spokeswoman Kathy Arberg, after consulting with
      Roberts. "The chief justice did not suggest Harriet
      Miers to the president."

      In recounting the Miers nomination and other
      controversies of the Bush presidency, Draper offers an
      intimate portrait of a White House racked by more
      internal dissent and infighting than is commonly
      portrayed and of a president who would, alternately,
      intensely review speeches line by line or act
      strangely disengaged from big issues.

      Draper, a national correspondent for GQ, first wrote
      about Bush in 1998, when he was the Texas governor. He
      received unusual cooperation from the White House in
      preparing "Dead Certain," which will hit bookstores
      tomorrow. In addition to conducting six interviews
      with the president, Draper said, he also interviewed
      Rove, Cheney, Laura Bush, and many senior White House
      and administration officials.

      Draper writes that Bush was "gassed" after an
      80-minute bike ride at his Crawford, Tex., ranch on
      the day before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast
      and was largely silent during a subsequent video
      briefing from then-FEMA Director Michael D. Brown and
      other top officials making preparations for the storm.

      He also reports that the president took an informal
      poll of his top advisers in April 2006 on whether to
      fire Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

      During a private dinner at the White House to discuss
      how to buoy Bush's presidency, seven advisers voted to
      dump Rumsfeld, including Secretary of State
      Condoleezza Rice, incoming chief of staff Joshua B.
      Bolten, the outgoing chief, Andrew H. Card Jr., and Ed
      Gillespie, then an outside adviser and now White House
      counselor. Bush raised his hand along with three
      others who wanted Rumsfeld to stay, including Rove and
      national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley. Rumsfeld
      was ousted after the November elections.

      The book offers more than 400 footnotes, but Draper
      does not make clear the sourcing for some of the more
      arresting assertions -- such as the one about
      Roberts's role in the Miers nomination, which has
      previously not come to light. Roberts's nomination was
      highly praised by conservatives, and they criticized
      Miers as lacking conservative credentials.

      White House spokesman Tony Fratto said yesterday that
      he had no comment on the book, including the claim
      about the Miers nomination.

      Draper offers some intriguing details about Bush's
      personal habits, such as his intense love of biking.
      He reports that White House advance teams and the
      Secret Service "devoted inordinate energy to
      satisfying Bush's need for biking trails," descending
      on a town a couple of days before the president's
      arrival to find secluded hotels and trails the boss
      would find challenging.

      He also makes new disclosures about the
      behind-the-scenes infighting at the White House that
      helped prompt the change from Card to Bolten in the
      spring of 2006. By that point, he reports, some close
      to the president had concluded that "the White House
      management structure had collapsed," with senior aides
      Rove and Dan Bartlett "constantly at war."

      He quotes Gillespie as telling one Republican while
      running interference for Alito's Supreme Court
      nomination: "I'm going crazy over here. I feel like a
      shuttle diplomat, going from office to office. No one
      will talk to each other."

      It has been reported that Card first suggested he be
      replaced to help rejuvenate the White House. But
      Draper writes that Bush settled on Bolten, then
      director of the Office of Management and Budget, as
      the new chief of staff before telling Card. When Card
      congratulated Bolten on his new assignment, he writes,
      Bolten "could tell that Card was somewhat surprised
      and hurt that Bush had moved so swiftly to select a
      replacement."

      Rove, meanwhile, was not happy, Draper writes, with
      Bolten's decision to strip him of his oversight of
      policy at the White House, directing his focus instead
      to politics and the coming midterm elections. Bolten
      noticed that other staffers were "intimidated" by
      Rove, and Rove was seen as doing too much,
      "freelancing, insinuating himself into the message
      world . . . parachuting into Capitol Hill whenever it
      suited him."

      Draper offers little additional insight on or details
      of Cheney's large influence in administration policy.
      But he writes that the vice president did find himself
      ruminating over mistakes made, chief among them
      installing L. Paul Bremer and the Coalition
      Provisional Authority to run Iraq for a year after the
      invasion. Instead, Draper suggests, Cheney believes
      that the White House should have set up a provisional
      government right away, as Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi
      National Congress recommended from the beginning.

      Several of Bush's top advisers believe that the
      president's view of postwar Iraq was significantly
      affected by his meeting with three Iraqi exiles in the
      Oval Office several months before the 2003 invasion,
      Draper reports.

      He writes that all three exiles agreed without
      qualification that "Iraq would greet American forces
      with enthusiasm. Ethnic and religious tensions would
      dissolve with the collapse of Saddam's regime. And
      democracy would spring forth with little effort --
      particularly in light of Bush's commitment to rebuild
      the country."

      In the CIA leak scandal, Rove assured Bush, Draper
      reports, that he had known nothing about Valerie
      Plame, a CIA operative whose covert status was
      revealed by administration officials to reporters
      after Plame's husband criticized the administration's
      case for war in Iraq. "When Bush learned otherwise,"
      he said, "he hit the roof."

      Bush considered whether to cooperate with the book for
      several months, Draper reports. The two men met for
      the first time on Dec. 12, 2006, and at the
      conclusion, the president agreed to another interview.
      In one of the interviews, he looked ahead to his
      post-presidency, talking of his plans to build an
      institute focused on freedom and to "replenish the ol'
      coffers" by giving paid speeches.

      He told Draper he could see himself shuttling between
      Dallas and Crawford. Noting that he ran into former
      president Bill Clinton at the United Nations last
      year, Bush added, "Six years from now, you're not
      going to see me hanging out in the lobby of the U.N."
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