The Note: What Doesn't Kill You Only Makes You Stronger

On Sunday, the Washington Post's Jim VandeHei and Michael Fletcher wrote up their tete-a-tete with President Bush, and he offered up some utterly fascinating tidbits he didn't let loose in his other interviews last week. Among them: his re-election was an approval of his policy in Iraq and "that there was no reason to hold any administration officials accountable for mistakes or misjudgments in prewar planning or managing the violent aftermath"; he won't press the Senate for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage (sort of); and he does not plan to cut benefits for Social Security disability and survivor payments. LINK

"With the Iraq elections two weeks away and no signs of the deadly insurgency abating, Bush set no timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops and twice declined to endorse Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's recent statement that the number of Americans serving in Iraq could be reduced by year's end. Bush said he will not ask Congress to expand the size of the National Guard or regular Army, as some lawmakers and military experts have proposed."

". . . The president said there is no reason to press for the amendment because so many senators are convinced that the Defense of Marriage Act -- which says states that outlaw same-sex unions do not have to recognize such marriages conducted outside their borders -- is sufficient. 'Senators have made it clear that so long as DOMA is deemed constitutional, nothing will happen. I'd take their admonition seriously. . . . Until that changes, nothing will happen in the Senate.'"

Newsweek's Howard Fineman offers up a who's who of power players on the Hill, who will have a lot to do with what exactly President Bush is able to accomplish in his second term: Sens. Frist, McCain, Reid, and Nelson, and Reps. Emanuel and Blunt. LINK

In this week's New Yorker, Seymour Hersh writes that the Bush Administration has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions in Iran, and that in his second term, sources say Bush intends to expand the war on terror and give Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon control of it. LINK

"The President has signed a series of findings and executive orders authorizing secret commando groups and other Special Forces units to conduct covert operations against suspected terrorist targets in as many as ten nations in the Middle East and South Asia. . . . The President's decision enables Rumsfeld to run the operations off the books -- free from legal restrictions imposed on the C.I.A."

Newsweek's Richard Wolffe sketches out the goals and challenges President Bush faces -- and looks to debunk some popular perceptions -- as he embarks on his second term. LINK

". . . those closest to Bush . . . make a compelling case that the president is a more complex and engaged character than his popular image suggests. And that he -- not Karl Rove, Dick Cheney or anyone else -- bears the full weight of responsibility for the ultimate successes and failures of his reign."

And Tom Wolfe's "I am Charlotte Simmons" is on his reading list!

Bush Cabinet:

On Sunday, the Washington Post editorial board took a hard line against the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as attorney general. LINK

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