White House Gloom

March 7, 2007 at 6:13 pm Leave a comment

By Kate Phillips NY Times

No matter which way you turn this week, the White House does seem as though it has fallen under a cloud, or rather, shadowed by a darkly overcast sky. And we’re not talking about the lionesque March weather this week, what with its wild winds one day and light snow falling from a gray canopy today.

On Capitol Hill on Tuesday, one after another of the recently fired United States attorneys told Congress that their dismissals felt politically motivated; either because of the lack of explanation for their firings; inquiries by elected officials in what was perceived as a partisan way into investigations; or because one or two were told that Justice Department officials wanted to reward connected Republicans with a new rung on the ladder toward successful careers.

In other hearing rooms, the continuing disclosures of shoddy conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and elsewhere for the nation’s war veterans dogged Pentagon officials. At the same time, President Bush –- trying to get on top of an issue that his press secretary just last week handed off to the Pentagon –- declared his own disgust at the conditions to an audience at the American Legion and announced a new bipartisan inquiry.

And just as his speech ended and he returned to the White House, a federal jury convicted I. Lewis Libby in the nagging leak case that consumed Washington and ensnared top journalists. Fallout from the convictions spilled onto the courthouse steps, where the former chief-of-staff for Vice President Cheney stood silently beside his lawyers as they promised an appeal. Talk of a presidential pardon and a vice presidency diminished waft through the news coverage, as the Bush administration was forced to come to terms with its first set of felony convictions. Full Times coverage here. Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald acknowledged the pallor over the White House, but insisted that Mr. Libby’s lies and obstruction of justice meant he “had failed to remove the cloud.”

With Congressional hearings continuing on various aspects of the war in Iraq, and Democrats trying to find a way to put their stamp on the way forward along that battlefield, the news out of the White House and about the White House remains bleak, at best.

As Ken Duberstein, former Reagan aide and Bush ally summed up Tuesday for Jim Rutenberg, one of The Times’s White House correspondents:

This is a day consumed by nine G.I.’s killed in Iraq, 100 Iraqis dying, the continuing Walter Reed investigation into the mistreatment of our returning heroes, and the Libby verdict — four out of five counts guilty. No matter how you spin it, this was a bad, bad, bad news day for this White House.

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Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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