Sunday, November 27, 2005

NY Daily News: Bush White House In Denial


Thomas DeFrank, Washington Bureau Chief for the New York Daily News and a reporter with close ties to the Bush 41 White House, co-writes an article today with Kenneth Bazinet that says the Bush White House is careering toward ruin and the preznit and his top staff are completely in denial about the problem:

WASHINGTON - Embattled White House aides have begun to believe President Bush must take the reins personally if his evaporating agenda and credibility are to be salvaged.

"We're just plodding along," admitted a senior Bush aide from deep within the West Wing bunker. "It's up to the President to turn things around now."

Even as his poll numbers tank, however, Bush is described by aides as still determined to stay the course. He resists advice from Republicans who fear disaster in next year's congressional elections, and rejects criticism from a media establishment he disdains.

"The President has always been willing to make changes," the senior aide said, "but not because someone in this town tells him to - NEVER!"

For the moment, Bush has dismissed discreetly offered advice from friends and loyalists to fire Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and bring back longtime confidant Karen Hughes from the State Department to shore up his personal White House staff.

"He thinks that would be an admission he's screwed up, and he can't bring himself to do that," a former senior staffer lamented.

So aides have circled the wagons as Bush's woes mount, partly hoping they can sell the President on a December blitz of media interviews to help turn the tide.

"The staff basically still has an unyielding belief in the wisdom of what they're doing," a close Bush confidant said. "They're talking to people who could help them, but they're not listening."

Two sources said Bush has not only lost some confidence in his top aides, as the Daily News has previously reported, but is furious with a stream of leaks about the mood within the West Wing.

"He's asking [friends] for opinions on who he can trust and who he can't," one knowledgeable source said.

Much to Bush's relief, political mastermind Karl Rove is said to be engaged in day-to-day strategy, even though he still could be indicted in the CIA leak case. Some in the White House think Rove is a continuing drain and has also hurt Bush's recovery by not clearing the reputation of spokesman Scott McClellan, who repeatedly told reporters Rove assured him he had nothing to do with leaking covert agent Valerie Plame's name, even though it's now clear he did.

The problem for Bush, advisers admit, is that the ongoing leak probe reinforces allegations that the White House allegedly hyped prewar intelligence to justify a war most Americans no longer support.

So far Team Bush doesn't know how to separate the two issues, and compounding its woes is the fact that aides aren't talking to each other as much as they once did.

Gone from the schedule are weekly cholesterol-laden breakfasts at Rove's home where top Bush hands discussed strategy. Also missing are Sunday "message meetings" with outside thinkers like GOP Chairman Ken Mehlman, campaign pollster Matthew Dowd and superlobbyist Ed Gillespie.

A card-carrying member of the Washington GOP establishment with close ties to the White House recently encountered several senior presidential aides at a dinner and came away shaking his head at their "no problems here" mentality.

"There is just no introspection there at all," he said in exasperation. "It is everybody else's fault - the press, gutless Republicans on the Hill. They're still in denial."

Not ready to throw in the towel and declare the boss a lame duck, the Bushies are hoping two issues can help firm up their base and perhaps make inroads with centrists who voted for Bush: the anticipated confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, and a plan to reinforce the border with Mexico to help stop illegal immigration.

This week Bush will begin to press the border security issue, while Alito's Senate confirmation hearings start early next year. Aides hope those issues will draw attention away from the war and leak probe.

Total fucking denial.

Seymour Hersh just told Wolf Blitzer on Late Edition on CNN (transcripts not up yet) that Preznit Bush is quite serene in private with friends over the Iraq war. According to Hersh, when Bush talks to friends about the war, he believes totally in the "mission" and knows that history will judge him well. Hersh also said that the White House staff doesn't bother the preznit with details of what is happening on the ground in Iraq, partly because Bush doesn't want to know particulars, partly because he cannot handle the truth when it does not correlate with what he wants to actually happen.

God help us. The man is fucking crazy. And America is even crazier for electing him.

But one thing I'm taking from all of these inside looks into the state of Bush's mind: the White House is never going to "turn the corner" on their problems because the head guy is a obsessive-compulsive dry drunk crazy man who thinks God wants him to democratize Iraq.

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