In what may be a first, the New York Times reports President Bush cited bloggers – Iraqi bloggers – in a speech Wednesday to back up claims that his troop buildup in Iraq is working.
"They have bloggers in Baghdad, just like we've got here," Mr. Bush said. He then went on quote them directly: "We feel safer about moving in the city now. Our people want to see this effort succeed. We hope the governments in Baghdad and America do not lose their resolve."
Mr. Bush, who has criticized the use of anonymous sources, did not identify the bloggers, and neither did a White House spokeswoman who was pressed about their identities. They were only revealed later as two brothers, both dentists, who write an English language blog, Iraq.themodel.com.
Bush Wages Two-Front War With Democrats
Two political battles in Washington pitting the White House against congressional Democrats continued to dominate the front pages of the nation's major newspapers Thursday morning.
The increasingly bitter fight between President Bush and Democratic leaders over setting a timetable for a withdrawal from Iraq is featured on page one of the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times, and is the top item in the Wall Street Journal's news box.
The Post highlights Wednesday's war of words, with the president charging that Democrats would be blamed if a spending bill for the war is held up, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi firing back that Mr. Bush needs to "Calm down with the threats. There's a new Congress in town."
The Journal says the skirmish is "fast becoming a contest over who will blink first," while the L.A. Times says the White House and Congress are "careening toward their biggest policy confrontation in more than a decade."
The New York Times says the clash with Congress over Iraq, paired with the second big conflict, over the firings of those eight federal prosecutors, "puts Mr. Bush in the difficult position of fighting the new Democratic majority on two fronts."
On the firings flap, the Times reports that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales faced "blunt criticism" at a private meeting this week with U.S. Attorneys who remain on the job, who complained that the dismissals had undermined morale. The Times says several prosecutors told Gonzales the firings had made them wonder about their own job security and were a distraction to staffers.
That controversy is expected to heat up even more with today's scheduled Senate testimony by Gonzales' former top aide, Kyle Sampson, which the L.A. Times says "is expected to go a long way toward deciding" Gonzales' fate.
The Bill Clinton Factor
There's been much discussion in political circles about how Bill Clinton will impact his wife's campaign for president. Will the former president, and his closet full of skeletons, be a drag on Sen. Hillary Clinton's bid for the White House?
The answer is no, according to a new USA Today/Gallup Poll. The survey finds that 70 percent of Americans think Bill Clinton will do more good than harm to Hillary's campaign.
The poll finds, however, that questions about the Monica Lewinsky scandal and the Clintons' marriage remain close to the surface, and voters expect both Democratic and Republican opponents to make those things issues in the campaign.
But Democratic strategist Susan Estrich says that while Democratic "elites" may be concerned about Bill Clinton, typical voters aren't. "There's all this talk out there," Estrich said, but it won't matter unless "a smoking gun in a blue dress" steps forward.
Bill Clinton remains a popular figure, according to the poll, with an approval rating of 60 percent, versus 38 percent disapproval. That's better than his wife, whose approval rating is split: 48 percent favorable, 48 percent unfavorable.
A NOTE TO READERS: The Skinny is now available via e-mail. Click here and follow the directions to register to receive it in your inbox each weekday morning.