Advice to any Republican loyalists planning to watch a replay of this evening's Hardball: hide the sharp objects, put the firearms under lock and key, flush any potentially poisonous potions. With lovely-but-lethal Norah O'Donnell sitting in for Chris Matthews, this might have been the most unrelenting gloom-a-thon since Watergate. Riffing off the latest polls showing W at 33%, it was one guest after another - from Bob Shrum to Kate O'Beirne to a panel of "hotshots" - painting a decidedly unrosy scenario. And just when things couldn't get any more dread, a former Clinton administration official popped in to predict millions might die from bird flu thanks to government inattention "in recent years."
Before leaping from the nearest ledge, I was able to record one salient segment: the startling allegation from Joe Scarborough that President Bush was behind the recent nasty leak on Harriet Miers.
As will be recalled, after Miers' disastrous foray as a Supreme Court nominee, she returned to her position as White House counsel. However, as per this NY Times article, Miers might be next on new WH Chief of Staff Josh Bolten's hit list. The article cited GOP sources to the effect that Bolten believes Miers "is indecisive, a weak manager and slow in moving vital paperwork through the system." Perhaps she is, and it wouldn't be shocking to learn that's what Bolten believes.
But what is stunning was Joe Scarborough's assertion that Pres. Bush must have been behind the leak. Here's how Joe put it:
"I'll tell you what it screams and I've just got to say, if anybody really believes that Josh Bolten leaked this story to the New York Times without the approval of George Bush, a wink or a nod, then they are too naive to report the national news in Washington, DC."
Norah: "What if he [Bolten] is trying to put presh -- if he's trying to put pressure on the president?"
Scarborough: "In the Bush White House, it doesn't work that way. Josh Bolten is a Bush loyalist, he would never leak without the president knowing he was leaking, and -- or maybe they were talking in a conversation when he came on board and Bush said yeah, maybe it's time for her to go, but gee, she's a close personal friend. What is sad for -- why I feel sorry for Harriet Miers, she's been there for six years, she knows leaks don't happen in the Bush White House, she knows Josh Bolten would never leak without George Bush giving the go-ahead."