Tales from the Trail

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.

“I can’t believe you’re going to leave a soldier on the battlefield,” Cheney told Bush.

USA-CRIME/LIBBY“The comment stung,” Bush writes. “I had never seen Dick like this, or even close to this. I worried that the friendship we had built was about to be severely strained, at best.”

Christine O’Donnell is not going away

Christine O’Donnell may have lost her Senate race. But she’s not exiting the spotlight. In fact, she’s sounding a bit like Sarah Palin.RTXU581_Comp-150x150

The Tea Party darling of Delaware cheerfully tells NBC’s Today show that she’s pursuing a book deal. She likes being involved in documentaries. And she’s going to fight tooth and nail against whatever Democrats try to pull during the upcoming lameduck session in Congress (how isn’t quite clear).

“We created a platform and we’ve been able to get a lot of issues out there. And I’d like to continue to do that at least for the short term.”

Obama 2.0 still a work in progress

USA-ELECTIONS/OBAMAA reboot of President Barack Obama’s White House, dubbed “Obama 2.0″ in a New York Times magazine article, is still showing the hourglass.

Many decisions about staff changes and other key issues are still far from resolved, but behind-the-scenes conversations continue.

Obama, who leaves for a 10-day Asia tour on Friday, will squeeze in time between summits and other events to huddle with aides over these issues.

What wilderness? Republicans emerge from elections ready to charge

Republicans have emerged from the political wilderness and they’re wasting no time laying down markers.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell particularly sounds like he’s looking for bear, not mincing words in his speech at the Heritage Foundation today.  SAFRICA/

Never mind that his party is still  in the minority in the Senate and would need support from Democrats and the president to get anything enacted, McConnell appears ready to lay down the law.

Washington Extra – Chastened, humbled… and shellacked

It was a subdued and chastened president who took the podium for his post-election news conference today. His tone flat, his eyes often downcast, his smile largely absent, Obama admitted the election results were “humbling.” At first, he tried to pin the blame on the tepid economic recovery, but as the questions ground on, he took more and more responsibility for the defeat on himself. For setting a bad tone with business, for not making enough progress on the economy, for failing to change the way Washington works.

Yet there was no contrition about the policies he pursued.  Perhaps this was not the right venue for that, perhaps history will prove him right, but one had the feeling the president believed just as firmly as ever in the policies he had so painstakingly worked out in his long Oval Office deliberations. The Democrats who lost on Tuesday, he said, had already contacted him to say they had no regrets, because they felt “we were doing the right thing.”

OBAMA/Finally, Obama paused for reflection when Reuters correspondent Matt Spetalnick asked how he responded to the charge he was “out of touch” with voters’ economic pain, if he was now going to change his leadership style. His answer seemed to give a window into the human side of a president often described as aloof.

Contrite Obama shows personal side

It wasn’t quite a Bill Clinton-style “I feel your pain” moment, but for President Barack Obama it was about as emotional as he ever gets in public.

Often criticized as aloof and cerebral, Obama showed his personal side at Wednesday’s news conference. OBAMA/

His tone throughout was one of a chastened leader, aware that voters had dealt him and his party a rebuke over the failure to fix the economy.

Palin for President? Someone’s gotta do it

It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. And if no one else wants to do it, Sarah Palin says she would step in.

The former Republican vice presidential candidate, who has been stirring the pot this year with her backing for Tea Party candidates for the midterm elections, has been hard to pin down on whether she plans to run for president in 2012. Well, until now.

In an exclusive interview with Entertainment Tonight, to air tonight, Palin let the moose out of the bag.

Reuters-Ipsos poll: Pennsylvania Senate race tied with one week left

The Pennsylvania Senate race has tightened up considerably a week before the Nov. 2 election and is likely to be hard fought to the end.

USA-ELECTIONS/Republican Pat Toomey, who had a 10 percentage point advangate among likely voters in August, is now locked in a tight race with Democrat Joe Sestak — tied at 46 percent, according to a Reuters-Ipsos poll.

They are battling for the seat of Senator Arlen Specter who lost to Sestak in the Democratic primary. Pennsylvania is one of the key states that will determine whether Republicans can pick up the 10 Democratic seats they need to seize majority in the Senate.

George W. Bush starting to emerge from cone of silence

George W. Bush is slowly starting to emerge from a self-imposed cone of silence that he has generally adhered to since leaving Washington for Texas when he turned over the presidency to Barack Obama.

BASEBALL/President No. 43 gave a lecture at the University of Texas in Tyler, Texas, on Tuesday and spoke before a sold-out crowd of 2,000 people. All this is according to the Tyler newspaper.

Bush talked up a book he has written about major decisions he made as president, “Decision Points,” which is to be published on Nov. 9. The author will be doing a number of major interviews surrounding the publication of his memoir, including with a Facebook fan.

Washington Extra – Busting those Obama myths (or not)

Our top story today (at least according to readers of Reuters.com):  President Barack Obama is to appear on “Mythbusters”, a television series that uses science to separate fact from fiction. It is part of a White House effort to highlight the importance of science, math and engineering, as experts warn that low interest in these subjects could damage America’s global competitiveness.

Among the myths the program has tackled before:

What’s worse, having an empty beer bottle smashed over your head or a full one?

Can a sniffer dog be thrown off the scent using household items?

USA/A myth Obama will help debunk:

The 2,000-year-old story that Greek mathematician and engineer Archimedes set fire to an invading Roman fleet using a system of mirrors to focus the sun’s rays.