Tales from the Trail

Will Election 2012 be another Florida 2000?

 

The 2008 U.S. presidential election was the first in 12 years in which large numbers of Americans did not believe the result was unfairly influenced by the machinations of politically biased state election officials. But it was also the first in a dozen years that was not close, as Democrat Barack Obama cruised to a blowout victory over Republican John McCain.

With 2012 shaping up to be another tight contest, experts say controversy is likely this year, especially given that 33 of the 50 state election authorities are led by partisan politicians, who are free to work for candidates’ campaigns. 

“People don’t pay attention to problems of partisanship until it’s too late,” said Richard Hasen, an elections law specialist at the University of California-Irvine.

There has already been election controversy this year. Republicans and Democrats have been fighting for months over voter identification laws that Republicans say are necessary to prevent fraud, and Democrats contend are efforts to make it harder for poorer voters and members of minorities – who tend to vote Democratic – to cast ballots.

In Florida, election officials appointed by the state’s Republican governor are in a fight with the Department of Justice over their effort to purge the voter rolls of non-citizens, an effort federal authorities contend unfairly targets members of minority groups.  

Gonzales wishes Bush admin had gotten to bin Laden first

Andrew Longstreth in New York interviewed the former Attorney General.

Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said he was grateful for the killing of Osama bin Laden even if he would have preferred it to have happened under the Bush administration.

“It was an important day,” Gonzales told Reuters on Wednesday. “We worked very hard to make this come about. I wished it happened under the Bush administration. But I’m grateful it happened when it did.”

Before Gonzales became attorney general, he served as White House counsel. In that position, he ordered a legal memo that was used to justify harsh interrogation techniques of terrorism suspects.

CPAC victory in hand, Ron Paul takes on Tea Party

USA-POLITICS/REPUBLICANSLibertarian Ron Paul, a godfather of the Tea Party movement, isn’t altogether happy with his political progeny these days.

Fresh from victory in last week’s CPAC presidential straw poll, the Republican congressman from Texas laments to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that some Tea Partiers aren’t measuring up when it comes to the tough defense and entitlement program cuts he believes are needed to save the United States from economic cataclysm.

“They don’t want you to touch Social Security. They don’t want you to touch anything but Obamacare,” Paul says. “Some of them are real Republicans and they wouldn’t dare touch Bush’s increase in medical care costs, you know, prescription health programs.”

Bush daughter backs gay marriage

Former President George W. Bush’s daughter Barbara is speaking out in support of same-sex marriage.

“I’m Barbara Bush and I’m a New Yorker for marriage equality. New York is about fairness and equality and , everyone should have the right to marry the person that they love. Join us,” she says in a brief video released by the advocacy group Human Rights Campaign.

In a break with her father, Ms. Bush, who lives in Manhattan, joins other prominent New Yorkers in calling on New York to legalize gay marriage, The New York Times reported Monday.

Rising above politics … in Washington

RTXVGWL_Comp1-150x150President Barack Obama seems to want to rise above politics in the tax debate. Good luck with that.

When Obama announced the White House’s tentative tax deal with congressional Republicans, he said he had agreed to compromise rather than “play politics” at a time when Americans want problems solved.

The president gave every impression of bowing to the verdict that voters delivered on Nov. 2, when they evicted so many Democrats from their lodgings in the House of Representatives and handed the time-share keys to the Republicans.

Barbara Bush says Sarah Palin should stay in Alaska

barbaraFormer President George W. Bush has carefully steered around the subject of Sarah Palin during interviews about his memoir. But his mother, Barbara Bush, aka the “Silver Fox,” is showing no restraint.

“I sat next to her once,” Mrs. Bush told CNN’s “Larry King Live” in an interview that also included her husband, former President George H.W. Bush. “Thought she was beautiful. And I think she’s very happy in Alaska — and I hope she’ll stay there.”

Palin is weighing a run for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination,telling ABC’s Barbara Walters last week that she thinks she could defeat President Barack Obama. She has a book, “America by Heart,” coming out Tuesday and is starring in a reality TV show, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.”

Dick Cheney: The Thin Man

I almost didn’t recognize him.

Watching Dick Cheney, one of the most recognizable political figures of the decade, on television speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony for the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, I did a double-take.

USA-BUSH/LIBRARYHe is about 30 pounds lighter, after being in the hospital for five weeks this summer for a procedure to improve his heart function, according to someone close to him.

The former vice president  and president appear to have moved beyond the end-of-term friction over Bush’s decision not to pardon Cheney’s chief of staff Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

Cheney was upset that Bush didn’t pardon Libby — president’s memoir

USA-SECURITY/CHENEYGeorge W. Bush’s memoir, “Decision Points,” is full of newsy tidbits, and there’s a lot of material about his relationship with his vice president, Dick Cheney, whom Bush considered dumping from the 2004 ticket.

In the book, which hits bookstore shelves on Tuesday, Bush describes how upset Cheney was at him for his refusal to give a full pardon to Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the senior Cheney aide who got caught up in the Valerie Plame scandal and who in 2007 was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Bush commuted the sentence, but refused entreaties to give Libby a full pardon.

Bush writes that in the closing days of his time in the White House in early 2009, Cheney pressed his case that Libby should be pardoned, and was angry when Bush refused.

No politics or punditry for George W. Bush

When George W. Bush says he’s done with politics — believe it.

bush1Not even the queen of daytime TV could draw the former Republican president into commenting on the current political scene when Bush sat down with her to discuss his new book.

He makes it clear he has moved on from politics and that punditry is not his thing.

“I’m through with politics. It’s hard for people to believe. I already said that. I am through. I enjoyed it,” Bush says in excerpts of an upcoming interview with Oprah Winfrey released Thursday.

Bush memoir includes some unexpected moments

Who would have thought former President George W. Bush would publicly admit that he had actually thought of dumping Dick Cheney as his veep?

But that’s just what he does in his memoir “Decision Points,” according to my colleague Steve Holland who obtained a copy of the book which is coming out next Tuesday. PEOPLE WEST

And the worst moment of his presidency? When charges of racism were flung at him over Hurricane Katrina.