MSNBC, Chris Matthews, and other MSM outlets have been having way too much fun at the expense of Karl Rove and others enmeshed in the mess brought on by the lies of former ambassador Joe Wilson.
On Friday, Hardball featured a breathless report about the possible huge shakeups at the White House where Rove and others were forced to step aside to clear their good names. But in reality, Rove and others have been looking for a major shakeup before much of what is spinning out right now began to really take shape.
"There has been a sense now for more than six weeks that things have hit a wall," says an outside consultant who works with the White House. "The Roberts nomination put a lot of those thoughts on the backburner, but Rove has studied enough history to understand the pitfalls of a second-term President, and many of them are unavoidable. I think he believed some staff rollover would help with some of that."
What a number of MSM reporters miss is that there was very little turnover in White House and senior administration staff after the 2004 election cycle. In fact, if there was job shifting, it was taking place between Cabinet-level departments, not inside the White House and the Old Executive Office Building.
"People we thought might leave didn't leave," says a White House source. "And those who did leave usually left for similar or better jobs with people like Condi [Rice] or Alberto [Gonzales]. It really is time for some changes. We still have three years to go. We have things to do."
MORE TO COME
The Washington Post report on SCOTUS nominee Harriet Miers's apparently shifting position on diversity issues is but the first of what we are hearing are several stories to break on various issues in the coming days.
Another one popped earlier on Saturday regarding any lack of clarity on what Miers' original denomination of faith might have been. In and of itself, that is not a big thing, but the discrepancies and new questions are now piling up at a quick clip.
"What is now clear is that that she simply was not vetted properly," says a Judiciary Committee staffer on the Democratic side. "We've been quiet, but Senator Leahy took out muzzle off on Thursday. We're getting into this now."
Problem is, and this may be a bigger problem for the White House to explain, multiple White House sources insist that Miers was vetted. "What you're seeing are writings and short articles that slipped through the process. That happens all the time," a White House staffer told us on Saturday. "Miers told us she was raised a Catholic. What do you want us to do? It's not the kind of thing you put a person through the ringer over."
MORE TO COME, PART DUH
We're hearing the next big story to drop will do to Harriet Miers's reputation for competency what Saturday's Post did does in raising questions about her stand on important issues such as affirmative action and set-asides.
There was much talk across the blogosphere Saturday about the Washington Times report that the White House has begun laying out contingency plans should the Miers nomination be pulled back. We're getting major pushback on that report from our sources inside the White House.
"Miers was in meetings late Friday and made it clear that she's ready to move ahead," says a White House source. "She knew the Washington Post story was coming and is prepared to discuss it with Senators should the one-on-one meetings begin again."
Another White House source says that if there is chatter about withdrawing the nomination, it's chatter among mid-level staffers who are just feeling the pressure from outside forces like the media and their conservative friends.
What does appear to be more palpable is a sense that conservative Republican Senators are beginning to wonder what it will take to persuade the President to accept a Miers request that her nomination be withdrawn.
"It would have to be a senior enough delegation from the Senate to make it clear this nomination isn't going to work out," says a Senate source. "Not necessarily [Majority Leader Bill] Frist, but serious enough that the President understands what is happening up here on the Hill."
HERE SHE COMES...
There has been a lot of talk about how poorly SCOTUS nominee Harriet Miers performed in her private meetings. One U.S. Senator who met with her early in the process says he asked her what he considered to be the easiest question she will get throughout the whole confirmation process: "Why do you want to serve on the Unites States Supreme Court?"
Miers's response was what the Senator called "something you'd expect from a Miss America contestant." The poor performance prompted the Senator to meet with Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, who passed along the Senator's concerns to the White House.
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