WASHINGTON, Sep. 6
We are back but we are rusty, so let's start out in our role as masters of the obvious.
There are only two big political stories for the foreseeable future.
They aren't tax reform and Social Security personal savings accounts.
They aren't even gas prices and Iraq.
The Gang of 500 CW is pretty clear on what it thinks about one of the two big stories:
This is the most politically perilous time of the Bush presidency, blah, blah, blah.
President Bush's public performance from Day One has been weak, blah, blah, blah.
The only things more outrageous than Michael Brown heading FEMA are the federal government's failure to prepare (even though there were reports predicting all this); the President's statement on "Good Morning America" that no one could have predicted the levees would break; and the Administration's failure to defy two centuries of federalism and usurp state and local law enforcement, medical, and other functions from the get-go; blah, blah, blah.
(Note to Rush: these are the CW, not what we think. . .)
On the other big story, the musings of the Gang are all over the map, but we have it pretty much figured out:
As soon as the Roberts hearings are scheduled and the nomination is on enough of a glide path that Steve Schmidt relaxes down to DEFCON 4, the President will announce that his candidate for the O'Connor seat is a media-savvy, experienced, oblique, stealthy Hispanic woman whose resume is filled with things like she was never a member of the Federalist Society, but she attended some key Federal Society meetings.
Now: if it appears there is no one like that on the planet, the President will pick Al Gonzales, after making sure that the Brownbacks and Inhofes and McCains of the world will support him, and the White House will (secretly) welcome the opposition of a few conservative groups (making Gonzales seem more moderate), knowing that many members of the pro-Roberts coalition will be for whomever the President picks, including Gonzales.
Now: if it turns out that in fact the conservative opposition is SO strong that even a president not inclined to be bullied or told what to do by anyone can't ignore the reality of the vote count, then he won't pick Gonzales. (Out of respect for the President and because they are tactically nimble, fierce anti-Gonzales lobbying during the first round was done as quietly as possible, but there was tons of it, which you probably don't know unless you are a very well-placed conservative.)
Also, ABC News has learned that Al Gonzales is not a woman, and that the First Lady and Justice O'Connor are aware of this also.
In other words: we don't know who the President will pick.
There are two threshold questions: (1) is Gonzales in fact in play?; and (2) are white men in play?
Until and unless you can answer those questions, you can't really handicap the field. [So please stop trying.]
As to the media's new favorite Bush-in-trouble storyline, the New York Times writes this: