The Note: Life Choices

WASHINGTON, Oct. 12

NEWS SUMMARY

Is the smarter read of George W. Bush, taking in both history and temperament, that Harriet Miers must withdraw, or cannot withdraw?

The Gang of 500 has yet to reach even a tentative consensus, but is moving toward the view spelled out by Bill Kristol in his editorial in this week's Weekly Standard that she could reciprocate his act of loyalty "by withdrawing, thereby sparing her boss the chance of lasting damage to his legacy."

For now, the White House is plowing ahead, reflecting the guns-blazing defense by the President and First Lady with Matt Lauer yesterday. Although finding the White House's surrogates, strategy, and game plan for Miers is still pretty much impossible, whether one uses a magnifying glass or a telescope.

As for the other story that dominates every steak-laden table at the Palm and all fajitas-fueled conversations at Lauriol Plaza, per usual, the questions about special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald outnumber the answers.

Could Fitzgerald's apparently solo trip to the court house yesterday mean that he is seeking or receiving an extension of the grand jury? What questions will Karl Rove be asked? [OTHER QUESTIONS REDACTED BY ABC NEWS MANAGEMENT.]

The talking heads keep stating the denouement will be the end of this month, but when was the last time they were right about anything in this case?

Today's Miers stories push towards trouble; today's Fitzgerald stories push towards high drama, higher tension, and deep, dark foreboding.

Both are unpredictable mysteries wrapped in riddles surrounded by confusion. And both have American politics on hold and in the balance.

The pair of condundra may well determine whether Bush continues to live under the golden fluffy cloud that has followed him all his political career, or whether his luck has finally run out.

The Miers must-read stories that seem pretty watersheddy to us:

". . .lawyers for the Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee are expressing dissatisfaction with the choice [of Miers] and pushing back against her, aides to 6 of the 10 Republican committee members said yesterday," writes David Kirkpatrick in a New York Times story the likes of which we have rarely seen during the course of the Bush Administration. LINK

Blind quotes like this one appear throughout the piece: "'You could say there is pretty much uniform disappointment with the nomination at the staff level,' another Republican on the committee staff said. 'It is clear there is quite a bit of skepticism, and even some flashes of hostility.'"

And make sure you read all the way to the bottom to see the Republican committee lawyers claiming Miers played no role in the "most significant" judicial nominations made by the President despite some GOP talking points that claim otherwise. In fact, the stories most damaging moment might come when Kirkpatrick reports that Republican staffers are doing anti-Miers research.

The Washington Times' Charles Hurt covers similar terrain and includes an email from Michael O'Neill, chief counsel to Chairman Specter, to committee staffers. LINK

"Mr. O'Neill sent out an e-mail yesterday warning staffers to tread carefully when talking about their dissatisfaction."

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