Bob Novak, casual traitor but connected GOP war horse, does provide a glimpse of the wild alarm the GOP establishment views Bush now. How long before many GOP members in the Senate and House abandon Dubya all together to preserve their jobs? Not long if Bob's comments are any guide. 33% approval Bush, about the same number that think we can win the Iraq war, is a drag on the party and Novak was always a party animal, not a Bushite.
Bob Novak, traitor:
Bush, never entranced with life in Washington, detests dealing with a Democratic Congress. Reflecting annoyance and fatigue, he is unwilling to withstand incessant attacks from the likes of Reid and is ready to fight it out for the over 20 months left in his term. Retaining Gonzales means Bush has slipped behind the barricades.
All the Republicans in Congress whom I contacted view this as pure folly. For the long term, they predict that constant war by their president against the majority Democrats would cast a pall on the Republicans' chances of retaining the presidency in 2008. For the shorter term, they foresee nothing but trouble from Gonzales continuing in power. "I cannot imagine," said a House GOP leader who would not be quoted by name, "how [Bush] thinks Gonzales can function effectively with no Republican support."
Gonzales's difficulties did not begin with the botched dismissal of U.S. attorneys or his serial memory failures. Much as Bill Clinton sought to replicate in Washington the culture of Little Rock by bringing along Vince Foster and Webster Hubbell, Bush imported such close associates from Austin as Gonzales and Harriet Miers.
While the current cliche is that Bush never should have named Gonzales attorney general in the first place, the consensus in the administration was that Gonzales also was at sea in his first post, as White House counsel. Colin Powell, Bush's first-term secretary of state, was so appalled by Gonzales that he shunted contact with him off to Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage, who in turn handed him down to lower levels along the State Department chain of command.