White House Week
Bush to Murtha: I'm Not Taking It Personally
The strident call from Democratic Rep. John Murtha, a Pennsylvania hawk, for President Bush to bring U.S. troops home stunned the president while he was on his Asia trip last week. But Bush isn't taking it personally, aides said, even though Murtha has been a close friend of his father, former President George H. W. Bush. A senior U.S. official who discussed the matter with Bush said the president believes Murtha's change of heart was motivated by genuine conviction, unlike the harsh criticism of Bush's lead up to war from other Democrats. "Congressman Murtha based his position on principled opposition to the war," said a Bush adviser. "Other Democrats are resorting to chicanery." The problem for Bush is that Murtha is very influential with both sides in Congress, and his turning against the war could bring other legislators along with him.
'Scooter' Gets a Break From the Post
Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney who was indicted in the CIA agent leak case, got a boost from an unexpected quarter. Washington Post investigative reporter and editor Bob Woodward revealed that he testified last week to the special prosecutor that he had talked to an administration source more than two years ago about Valerie Plame, the CIA operative. That story would throw a kink into the timeline established by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who had said that Libby was the first person in the administration to talk to reporters about Plame. (More than a dozen top administration officials, including Cheney, sent word directly or indirectly that they were not Woodward's source.) Woodward apologized to Post Editor Leonard Downie Jr. for not telling him earlier of his involvement in the matter, and the New York Times, which had taken much heat for its management of its own reporter Judith Miller and her involvement in the case, gladly made the Woodward story its lead item on Thursday.
And...in Other Scooter News
It's a neat American invention, President Bush believes, so in Kyoto last week, he gave Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi a Segway scooter. But first Bush wanted to demonstrate how to ride the thing. He had tried one before at his father's place in Kennebunkport, Maine, but the Segway toppled. This time, though, he stayed upright, an aide said.
Department of 'Whatever It Takes'
While most opinion makers (including those in academia, foreign affairs, and the media) have come to believe that Washington will fail in establishing a stable democracy in Iraq, a new survey released by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press and the Council on Foreign Relations finds a majority of the public (56 percent) believes it will succeed. And when asked whether the torture of terrorist suspects is justified, only 32 percent of the public said "never." Fifteen percent said "often," 31 percent said "sometimes," and 17 percent said "rarely." Americans also want stronger protection from overseas threats, the poll found. By 48 percent to 34 percent, the public is more worried about having "not enough protection" against terrorism than about "restricting liberties."
White House Moment: 2:15 p.m., November 18, Pusan, South Korea
At the opening of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum leaders retreat, President George Bush sought out Russian President Vladimir Putin for a brief chat. The two leaders had met separately earlier in the day--Bush told Putin publicly that he valued his advice and their strategic relationship.
With Kenneth T. Walsh and Thomas Omestad
This story appears in the November 28, 2005 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.