Howard Fineman

Stories by Howard Fineman

  • THE SUPREME SALES TEAM

    The Senate was in recess, its members scattered across the planet. Still, Republicans had urgent administrative business to conduct: organizing their Supreme Court talking points for the weekend chat shows. So they set up a globe-spanning "message management" conference call. The nominal host was Majority Leader Bill Frist in Tanzania. But the guy fielding many of the questions late last week wasn't a senator or White House staffer--or even, for that matter, a lawyer. He was a 42-year-old K Street lobbyist and ninja of concussive conservative spin named Ed Gillespie, whose first congressional experience was parking cars. As he spoke, Washington was buzzing with rumors that the chief justice was about to follow Sandra Day O'Connor out the door. "Is Rehnquist retiring?" asked Sen. George Allen of Virginia. There was "no official confirmation," Gillespie said. But his tone had a message: "Get ready."The Gillespie call was a trailer for the film to come: "Supreme Court Apocalypse,"...
  • Living Politics: Explosive Rove Reaction

    The White House press room is a dump of a place, with rickety lecture hall seats, photographers' ladders piled high in the corners, frayed carpeting and a floor that feels hollow, which it is, since the old presidential swimming pool is under it somewhere. In recent days the room also seems like a battleground--the way it used to be in the old Clinton days.The ferocity with which the presidential press corps went after the Karl Rove story is startling, but it shouldn't be surprising.Several media, political and Washington vectors intersected to create an explosive Rove Reaction.Third thoughts on pre-Iraq reportingTake my word, there has been a lot of soul searching in the so-called Main Stream Media (MSM) over its performance, or lack of performance, in the months leading up to the American-led ouster of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. Specifically, did we replace what should have been professional skepticism with a certain mindless credulousness in assessing the reality of the...
  • THE HOLY WAR BEGINS

    COVER STORY: JUSTICETHE HOLY WAR BEGINSBUSH MUST CHOOSE BETWEEN THE BIG TENT OR THE REVIVAL TENT. INSIDE HIS SUPREME MACHINE.As soon as President George W. Bush officially got the news--Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was retiring--he huddled with his innermost circle. He wanted to give them the word and review the game plan now that he would be choosing a nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. As staffers filed into the Oval Office for the regular 9 a.m. meeting last Friday, Bush ushered Vice President Dick Cheney and counselors Karl Rove and Dan Bartlett into the adjacent dining area. A smoothly run vetting process mattered, the president said, but not as much as the identity and history of the person he ultimately selects. "A lot of people are going to be focused on the process," he said, "but when I make the candidate selection, the focus will be on the candidate."Bush was half right: the focus, in fact, is squarely on him, too. Presidencies are defined by key moments. So far, his are...
  • Living Politics: 'The Good Heart'

    George W. Bush wanted me to know that it's what's inside that counts. Early in the 2000 campaign, Sen. John McCain had unexpectedly flattened him in New Hampshire. Bush seemed somehow both combative and resigned. "Whatever happens," he told me one day, "I want you to know that I have a good heart." I think what he meant was: I may lose, but I'm a decent guy. Also: I may play rough and nasty, but I'm a decent guy.Well, now we get to see what's really in George W. Bush's heart. By his nomination (or nominations) shall we know him. Soon enough he will choose someone to be his first pick for the U.S. Supreme Court. Others are likely to follow. If Chief Justice William Rehnquist retires, and Bush elevates Justice Antonin Scalia to that slot, Congress could see the spectacle of THREE confirmation hearings in one season.As I see it, there is a tug-of-war going on--and it's not the one you're already seeing on TV between the lobbying groups and senators maneuvering for position in front of...
  • Living Politics: Message to GOP

    To win the war on terror, President Bush keeps saying, Americans must sacrifice. After his speech on Iraq, congressional Republicans probably know which Americans he's talking about: them! If current polling trends continue, the GOP could come under withering fire in next year's congressional elections. But they shouldn't expect Bush to yank the troops from Mesopotamia for his party's sake. His implicit advice to the GOP: Strap on the body armor, remind voters that jihadists are evil and label the Democrats appeasers who would rather call a lawyer or a shrink than call in air strikes.Every time I think the president has exhausted the possibilities of stark rhetoric, I am wrong: Like a preacher with Bible in hand, he keeps coming up with knew formulations of the struggle between good and evil. Strategically, we're in a giant global game of Texas Hold 'Em, and Bush, despite a hand that doesn't look that strong, keeps shoving more chips into the pot. Now the war in Iraq has been...
  • A DEMOCRATIC HOUSE DIVIDED

    Hillary Rodham Clinton is expert in the art of appearing publicly oblivious to family tensions. The skill came in handy last week at a Teamsters union fund-raiser in Washington for Jennifer Granholm, the Democratic governor of Michigan. Earlier that day the Teamsters and four other unions had threatened to bolt the AFL-CIO and spark a civil war in the beleaguered labor movement--the grass-roots bulwark of the Democratic Party. But the funder had been planned long before, and Granholm is well liked. So officials from the opposing camps trouped to a top-floor terrace of the Teamsters headquarters, overlooking the Capitol, to listen to speeches, smile icy smiles and shoot dagger glances at each other. No one alluded to possible unpleasantness, especially the junior senator from New York. Framed by a phalanx of beefy union guys, Hillary all but cooed. "I feel so protected," she said.But even Senator Clinton can't ignore this: the House of Labor is divided against itself, and it's not...
  • Living Politics: McCain's Moment

    Here in your nation's capital, three parties roam the landscape these days: Dobson-Rove Republicans, Reid-Pelosi Democrats and McCain-Media Independents. At least for now, the McCain-Medias control the game. Going forward, the question isn't so much whether the leader of the MMs can win the presidency, but whether he will try to do so as an independent or a Republican. If Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton hopes to win in '08, by the way, she'd better hope McCain chooses the MM route. It's her best chance.To an almost comical degree, John McCain is everywhere in Washington, a Batman without mask or cape, plummeting from rooftops into every situation. Sen. Dick Durbin is resisting apologizing for his errant Gitmo "Nazi" remarks? McCain chastises him on "Meet the Press" and, presto, Durbin issues a blubbering apologia on the Senate floor. Conversely, if you want to convene a commission to investigate allegations of prisoner abuse at Gitmo--the very same abuses that prompted Durbin's remarks-...
  • SCREAM 2: THE SEQUEL

    By the glamour-challenged standards of Washington, it was a big-box-office move. On short notice last Saturday, C-Span decided to cover--live--a normally snooze-inducing meeting of the Democratic National Committee. The big draw was the Beltway answer to Russell Crowe: DNC Chairman Howard Dean, whose phone-throwing attacks on Republicans have made him a star again. Earlier in the week at an "ethnic press round table" in San Francisco, Dean had branded the Republican Party "pretty much a white, Christian party"--as if that were some kind of a crime. Wise guys of both camps viewed the statement as a blunder, because, well, most Americans are white Christians. But at the rostrum of a downtown capital hotel, Dean defiantly declared that his characteristic feistiness had been good marketing for the party, drawing $100,000 in unsolicited donations from the Web in one day. "We are not going to lie down in front of the Republican machine anymore!" Dr. Dean shouted.So here is the Dean...
  • Living Politics: The T Word

    I was talking to Lebanese and Palestinian families here in Washington. We had never discussed politics before, let alone the war in Iraq. When the conversation turned that way, I expected a blast at George Bush and American hubris. I was wrong.As they spoke, the men fingering amber worry beads, they said that they, too, yearned for the advent of democracy in Iraq and the Middle East. Democracy was possible, as the heady days of Lebanon's "Cedar Revolution" had shown. Ridding the region of Saddam Hussein was a good thing.But here was the problem: not America's intentions, but America's competence."The Americans have managed things so badly, with such a lack of knowledge and preparation," said one man, "that people in the region are starting to wonder what your intentions really were to begin with."So it goes. As summer heat intensifies here, so do doubts about the war. New questions are being raised about the president's original justification--the "gathering danger" of Saddam's WMD...
  • Living Politics: Was It Worth It?

    I'm sitting here with a gloomy letter from Iraq, written by a high-ranking officer I cannot name in a branch of service I cannot name in a part of the country I cannot name. But trust me, because I trust him. Iraqis, he says, have no feel for or belief in the democracy we want to create, and our occupation is making them less, not more, capable of self-government."Our eventual departure," he worries, "will leave nothing but cosmetic structure here." "Every mission," he writes, "requires a conscious escape from the resignation that there is nothing here to win and every occasion to fail."Small miracles do happen--a child is saved, a generator is installed. There remain "possibilities." But sullen eyes along the roadsides give this officer "the feeling that we have stayed too long but can not leave."You can dismiss this as understandable but misleading musings of an officer who has seen too many men killed, and who doesn't see the "big picture." But what exactly IS the big picture?...
  • THE CELLULAR DIVIDE

    If you want to be a Republican president--and Bill Frist of Tennessee does--there's no better place to be on a Memorial Day weekend than where he was planning to be last Sunday: in Charlotte, N. C., at Lowe's Motor Speedway, waving a green flag as honorary starter of the Coca-Cola 600. For Frist, a product of prep school, Princeton and Harvard, it was the ultimate twofer, a chance for a senator and surgeon to bond with NASCAR and the Bible Belt. But it will take more than flag-waving for Frist, the Senate majority leader, to steer his way through this Congress--let alone from the Capitol to the White House. He's navigating a high-speed obstacle course, and roadblocks ahead include more controversial judicial nominations, perhaps a U.S. Supreme Court vacancy, and the newest, arguably most politically dangerous of all: the emotionally freighted, divisive issue of federal funding for stem-cell research.It's no easy thing being majority leader in any circumstances, but especially now,...
  • Living Politics: Mark Warner, the Democratic Contender

    The buzz here is about Deep Throat and how President Bush allegedly lost his 'Mo, but, being the campaign geek I am, I'm thinking about the future: the race for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.Here's where we are as we enter the starting gate. There are paired entries, as they say in horse racing. Hillary (and Bill) Clinton in No. 1, of course. Then, the 2004 John-John ticket-mates, Senators Kerry and Edwards. The third pair are smooth-moving moderates: Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana and Gov. Mark Warner of Virginia. Rounding out the field, three other governors: Richardson of New Mexico, Vilsack of Iowa, Rendell of Pennsylvania.Hillary's Hillary. 'Nuff said. The entry I'd rather talk about this time around is arguably the most obscure--Warner.Let's put the caveats up front. He is relatively young (50), has zero experience in defense or foreign policy, has no military background or national organization, and strikes some people who know him as unusually hungry and...
  • Living Politics: Food Fight in the Big Tent

    I'm wondering if we haven't just witnessed a turning point in politics. Years from now, when we look back on the "Gang of 14" deal, will we see it as the moment when the tide of conservative Republicanism crested?American public life moves in cycles. A generation ago, Lyndon Johnson trounced Barry Goldwater. But Goldwater's 1964 crusade unleashed energy and ideas that inspired the New Right-Republican movement, which eventually reached its zenith in George W. Bush. He unified the libertarian, religious and corporate cadres of conservatism under his GOP banner.Is the wheel turning again with another bold Texan in power? Hard to know, of course, and the Democrats won't rise in some mere hydraulic fashion. They need to find vision, ideas and charismatic leaders, and none of them seem to be in great supply. But the line of products--call them "Bush Right"--suddenly is looking like what marketers call a "mature brand." There are signs of age, strain and overreach, internally and...
  • READY TO BLOW

    Sen. Arlen Specter first played squash at Yale Law School 50 years ago and sees no reason to stop just because he is battling a disease (Stage IV Hodgkin's) that has left him bald and with a "port" in his chest, through which his doctors pump chemotherapy treatments every other Friday. Still wiry and spry at 75, the Pennsylvania Republican proudly proclaims that the brand of squash he plays is "hardball"--the old-fashioned version with a dense, hard sphere that ricochets at lightning speed around a narrow court. The ball moves fast but a canny player can conserve his energy and win by letting the game come to him and working the angles deftly. The key, Specter explains, is to occupy "the T" in the heart of the court--the perilous but pivotal middle. "If you are on the T, you are in the center spot," Specter says.As with racquet sports, so with politics. Specter is one of a dwindling band of Republican moderates who are paradoxically, if temporarily, in a power position on the T in...
  • Living Politics: Seeing Red ... and Blue in the Senate

    Every theater has a backstage, Senate hearing rooms included. Behind the august chambers you see on TV are warrens of small rooms in which senators and their staff can relax, work out a deal behind closed doors, or closet themselves in old-fashioned phone booths to make private calls. Reporters aren't supposed to hang around in such places, but I did so for a while one morning last week.It was still early, so my eyes were drawn to a small table with a pot of coffee, milk and sugar, and a picked-over assortment of pastries. I was about to help myself - reporters are like that - when I noticed an official-looking sign behind the coffee pot: "FOR SENATORS ONLY."The Senate is famously regarded as a club--FOR SENATORS ONLY. That idea gives them a sense of connectedness, almost of family, that those outside the club cannot share. Their relationships often--not always, but often--have been more important than the party they belong to, the issue at hand, or the identity of the president at...
  • Living Politics: What's Yalta Got to Do With It?

    Boy, it's been a long time since Yalta made news--a half century or so. And yet if George W. Bush's trip to Europe is to be remembered for anything, it will be for the incendiary speech about Yalta he gave in Riga, Latvia, accusing FDR and Churchill of having agreed at the Crimean summit in 1945 to abandon Eastern Europe to Soviet communism.Anybody who was surprised at Bush's audacity doesn't understand his presidency--how it sees the world, who it cares about (or doesn't care about), how it operates diplomatically and politically.I recently spent some time at the White House visiting with Mike Gerson, the president's speechwriter. In his self-deprecating, elliptical fashion, Gerson told me he was working on a draft for the Europe trip. He was spending a lot of time on it. The president obviously thought it was important. Gerson didn't say that his boss was going to throw a Molotov cocktail at the entire tradition of Big Power, post-war diplomacy. I should have expected it.There...
  • Living Politics: Daddy Dobson

    When I flew to Colorado Springs recently to interview Dr. James Dobson, he had an urgent matter to interview ME about: why, he wondered, did Don Imus think that he (Dobson) was a nut? He was anything but, Dobson said.When Dobson came to Washington the other day for the White House Correspondents Dinner, he met another radio guy, comedian Al Franken. I wasn't at the event (a musical at my daughter's school took precedence), but Franken told me about it later. In typical fashion, Franken had tried to deadpan Dobson into exploding. "It must be great to always know the absolute truth," he told Dobson, "because, for me, you know, it's such a burden not to...." Dobson didn't bite. "He knew it was a joke," Franken recalled. They proceeded to debate the morals of abortion in what apparently was a civil manner.I mention these anecdotes to explain why Dobson is, arguably, the most powerful social conservative in the country, central to the battle over federal judges--and a danger to the...
  • THE RIGHT'S FIGHT

    La Colline ("the hill") is the perfect place to hold a fund-raising dinner for a Republican congressman: it's two blocks from the Capitol, in the same building as the studios of Fox News. Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas, the embattled House majority leader, is to be feted there this week by lobbyist Glenn LeMunyon, one of an army of former DeLay aides who make a living peddling access to the GOP machinery they helped to build. LeMunyon's clients include Lockheed Martin and Verizon. Last year, at the Republican convention, he threw a series of bashes for Texas's members of Congress, featuring big-time rock acts and offering the opportunity (if you paid enough money) to have your picture taken with the politicians. "Republicans have much more fun than Democrats," LeMunyon said. This week's event is more low key: a quiet dinner, $2,000 for individuals, $5,000 for political action committees, with the proceeds going to DeLay's 2006 House race in Houston. "It's just a fund-raiser," said LeMunyon...
  • Living Politics: Bush's Political Capital

    You've got to hand it to the PR geniuses at the White House. There's nothing like back-to-back Texas photo ops with Crown Prince Abdullah and Rep. Tom DeLay to give Americans a visceral sense that the Boss is on top of the gas-price situation and desperate to save working folks cash at the pump.Just kidding, of course.Actually, it's hard to imagine two political events LESS likely to win the president points. George Bush held hands and pecked cheeks with Abdullah in traditional desert fashion--but the prince gave him the back of his hand on the issue of the moment: oil supply and prices, which the Saudis essentially control. Then the president welcomed the embattled DeLay into his photo space in Galveston. That was no energy-issue coup, either. Until lobbyist Jack Abramoff came into the picture, DeLay's best-known corporate ties were to corporate titans such as Kenneth Lay of Enron in his home town of Houston.Across a range of issues, and in a number of subtle and not-so-subtle ways...
  • TORN BETWEEN FAITH & SCIENCE

    Sen. Bill Frist is a heart surgeon who admires what he calls "the surgical personality": precise, sensitive to details, focused. He and his aides thought they had found a politically surgical way for him to participate in a nationally televised prayer service with fervent religious conservatives at a megachurch in Louisville, Ky., next Sunday. The topic: the need to ease the Senate filibuster debate rule so that the Republican majority can confirm President George W. Bush's most controversial judicial nominations. Frist's role: a brief, four-minute videotape stressing a secular argument--that presidents deserve "up or down" votes on all picks. "The senator won't be talking about his own faith and won't be speaking from a pulpit," said an aide.But even Solomon couldn't split this baby. The hemorrhaging began when the sponsor, Family Research Council, hit the Web with fliers and press releases dubbing the event "Justice Sunday--Stopping the Filibuster Against People of Faith" and...
  • PLAYING ROPE-A-DOPE

    There's nothing fancy about Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate. Sartorially, he is a symphony in brown. He hails from a Nevada eye-blink called Searchlight, but isn't at ease in the spotlight. "I would just as soon never have a press conference," he says. An amateur boxer in his youth, the 65-year-old Reid's idea of a good time is to watch reruns of famous bouts on ESPN Classic. A favorite was on the other night: the 1955 epic between Archie Moore and Rocky Marciano. "Moore flattened Rocky early," Reid said. "Had him down, almost out. But by patience and sheer determination Marciano came back, round by round, and won. Both guys were cut and bloody when it was over."As the Senate waits for the opening bell in one of the biggest legislative bouts of recent years--over the rules for confirming federal judges--there's mounting evidence that Reid could be the Rocky in this show. President George W. Bush started 2005 in triumph, with lofty poll numbers, sweeping goals, a...
  • Living Politics: A Dark-Horse Republican to the Rescue?

    People here remember Haley Barbour as a slightly raffish Mississippi good ol' boy with a low center of gravity and a syrupy drawl who became chairman of the Republican Party, made a bundle as a tobacco lobbyist and then went home to--of all things--become governor: A shrewd inside player, but not someone who automatically springs to mind as presidential material.It speaks volumes about the condition of the GOP that at least a few people around town are talking up Barbour as a Republican presidential contender in 2008--and that at least a few of his fellow Republicans (and not just his former business partner, Ed Rogers) seem to be taking the idea somewhat seriously.Here's the long and short of the reasons why:1. There is no obvious successor to George Walker Bush as El Jefe of the GOP except perhaps Gov. John Ellis "Jeb" Bush of Florida who, by virtue of being Little Brother to the President, is too oppressively obvious and therefore problematic.2. The party's centrifugal forces of...
  • Living Politics: Faith, Law and American Life

    The parallels are eerie: The next presidential campaign is beginning in the august chambers of Renaissance buildings with painted ceilings and corridors filled with sculpture. In the shadows of massive domes, meeting in unique, isolated city-states, the Conclave of Cardinals in the Vatican City and the members of Congress in the District of Columbia will set the tone and terms for a great debate over the roles of law and faith in defining life in America.What do the Schiavo case, the selection of a new pope, the filibuster rule in the Senate and the fate of Rep. Tom DeLay have to do with one another? At least in the political realm ... everything.Looking back, it's pretty clear what the 2004 election, at heart, was about: George Bush's lock-and-load attitude towards the use of military force against regimes allied with Islamist terrorists. Looking ahead, it's pretty clear what the 2008 election, at heart, will be about: the role of religious belief in what theologians quaintly call ...
  • Living Politics: The Disassembly of Tom DeLay

    A new drama of survival has begun here--political, not physical; legal, not spiritual. The central character isn't a woman in a hospital bed but a controversial Republican leader in the House of Representatives. Rep. Tom DeLay may not want to admit it to himself, but he's fighting for his political life.I wouldn't have said so two weeks ago. But I've seen enough of these dramas unfold to know when I'm watching a new one, and now I am. You know the story line, which dates back to the Greeks: a powerful, hubristic leader is brought low by his own flaws. Think Jim Wright, Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton.A key but cautious leader of the Republican leadership put it to me this way in private recently: "Members want us spend our time protecting them. They don't like having to spend their time protecting us." Meaning: their idea of fun and productive use of time in the capital is not "DeFending DeLay."By melodramatically linking his own destiny with that of Terri Schiavo, DeLay didn't help...
  • Living Politics: The Great Republican Role-Reversal Gambit

    Here's a quick quiz on political labels for you junkies out there. Of the two major political parties, which one is spending money like water, creating new welfare entitlements, rapidly expanding the power of the federal government and launching idealistic wars of liberation around the globe?For 60 years--from the dawn of the New Deal in 1933 to the advent of Hillary Healthcare in 1993--the answer was the Democratic Party. But 1993 also was the year George W. Bush launched his national career (by running for governor of Texas). Now, 12 years later, we see the result: the Republicans are the party of deficit spending, entitlement expansion, Washington aggrandizement and Wilsonian crusades. They are presiding over the most vigorous enlargement of federal power and military involvement abroad since Lyndon Johnson unfurled the Great Society and plunged headlong into Vietnam.Maybe there's a big-government growth hormone in the artesian wells of Texas. Or maybe, as the writer Flannery O...
  • Living Politics: Friends of Bill

    Here's a vividly ironic, and deeply symbolic, political moment: on the very day Bill Clinton was being embraced, almost literally, by father and son Bushes at the White House, Republicans were pushing through the Senate an anti-bankruptcy measure that corporate America has dearly wanted--and that Clinton vetoed as he was leaving office five years ago.No wonder the Bushes, who play for the deepest of keeps, love having Clinton around. The former president has become the family's favorite hunting trophy, a symbol of their (and the GOP's) successful, decades-long rise to power.I imagine it's tough, even for Clinton's enemies, to hate the guy anymore. His "you-can't-catch-me" cockiness is gone, but the effortless charm remains. Among Baby Boomers of all persuasions (including, I think, George W. Bush) the sense exists, perhaps grows more vivid, that Bill Clinton somehow embodies us all. It IS a long strange trip, and Clinton's well-worn visage is proof. White House aides say that,...
  • SENIORS DRAW FIRE

    The letters on the building entrance are carved in gray stone, suggesting ancient inevitability and understated power. Inside, leaders of AARP, the famed "seniors lobby," exude an equivalent air of solid confidence. "AARP has an almost unshakable brand," said one. But the scene at AARP headquarters last week belied the blase words. Oblivious to a snowstorm that had emptied capital offices, the group's commanders were working late into the night, hunkered down around conference tables to plot their next moves in the war over Social Security--and the war-within-a-war over the central role of AARP.President Bush's proposal for sweeping changes in the 70-year-old retirement program has touched off the mother of all lobbying battles, and AARP is suddenly in the line of fire. A pioneer of grass-roots lobbying, the group finds itself under attack from a new legion of well-funded, Web-based foes who have decided that the Bush plan will fail if a leading critic--AARP--isn't bloodied. "The...
  • Living Politics: What to Make of the 'New' Middle East

    Karl Rove always says that George W. Bush likes to make "game-changing moves." Well, it looks like he's failing to make one on Social Security, but succeeding in doing so--at least for now--in the Middle East. It just goes to show: if the AARP governed Istanbul, the Ottoman Empire would still be intact. It turned out to be easier for the president to inspire voters in Baghdad than Republicans facing re-election in 2006.Republican congressional leaders have more or less declared Social Security "reform" dead for the year. What happened? My quick list: post-reelection hubris in the White House, which led the president and Rove to assume (wrongly) that the public was waiting, like the Israelites in the desert, to be inspired; a killer preemptive strike by AARP (with ads that started before inauguration); the administration's admission that private savings accounts had little to do with keeping the system solvent; and the simple arithmetic which showed that relatively minor tweaking...
  • KING KARL

    Saudis thrive in the heat, but not the Washington kind. In July 2003, they were looking for protective cover. A congressional panel had issued a report on the roots of the 9/11 attacks, in which 15 of the 19 perpetrators were Saudis. The report contained 28 superclassified pages that described evidence of possible Saudi funding for two of the hijackers. In reaction, the Saudis descended on the capital, eager to dispute the charges and reassure George W. Bush and his administration. Prince Saud al-Faisal sat down with the president, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Colin Powell. Later that same day, the prince met with national-security adviser Condi Rice.But there was a third White House base to touch--up a narrow flight of stairs on the second floor of the West Wing. On July 29, according to lobbying records reviewed by NEWSWEEK, the Saudis' leading Washington fixer, Adel Al-Jubeir, met with Karl Rove to, among other things, "give a status briefing on the Kingdom's...
  • Living Politics: Biblical Politics

    Thomas Van Orden was such a person, and as he whiled away the time in the law library he noticed something that bothered him. On the lawn outside the building was a 40-year-old monument to the Ten Commandments. Here, he concluded, was a violation of the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment prohibition against the establishment of religion. With the help of some University of Texas law professors, Van Orden went to court in 2002 and has been going ever since. He's lost at every turn; now he'll get his day at the U.S. Supreme Court on March 2.It's a red-letter day for the lucky politician who gets to "defend" the Ten Commandments. He's Greg Abbott, the 46-year-old attorney general of Texas and protege of George W. Bush. The Department of Justice knows a PR bonanza when it sees one; it has requested time to help protect the Texas-Moses axis. Perhaps newly confirmed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who served on the Texas Supreme Court with Abbott, will want to join his Texas colleague...
  • Bush's Big Bet: Risking His Capital

    HE GOT THE BALL ROLLING AT THE STATE OF THE UNION. BUT IT'S NO ORDINARY FIGHT. ON TRIAL: AMERICA'S CORE BELIEF IN THE SOCIAL CONTRACT, AND ITS FAITH IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR
  • AND IT'S ON TO 2008!

    John Edwards and Evan Bayh are trying different paths to 2008. Edwards is moving his family back to North Carolina. (His wife, Elizabeth, is said by aides to be responding well to chemotherapy for breast cancer and is scheduled for a lumpectomy in March.) The Edwardses' two young children, in private schools in D.C., will enroll in public ones back home. This week Edwards hits the campaign trail for the first time since last fall, speaking to the "One Hundred Club" of New Hampshire Democrats in Manchester.Bayh has no trips to Iowa or New Hampshire planned, aides say, but Dem operatives noted his caustic Senate speech--and "no" vote--against Condoleezza Rice's nomination for secretary of State. Conservative by party standards--and thus a tough sell in places like Iowa--Bayh joined only 12 other Dems, all liberals, in opposing Rice. A supporter of the Iraq war, Bayh said Rice nevertheless needed to be held accountable for the Bush administration's mistakes in prosecuting it.