Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Some Better News For Domenici; Dem Senator Plays Soft, Plus: Our D.C. Delegation & The Media, And: Even More Cool Stuff 

Sen. Feinstein
A recent exchange between MSNBC's Chris Matthews and Democratic U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California had to be welcomed by NM GOP Senator Pete Domenici. Feinstein is on the Judiciary committee which is trying to find out who in the Administration was responsible for drafting the list of US attorneys who should be fired, including NM's David Iglesias. Matthews pressed Feinstein on his Hardball program on whether Pete should be summoned before Judiciary because he might know who composed the hit list, but Dianne demurred.

MATTHEWS: Do you, on the committee, consider calling Senator Pete Domenici as a witness, since he was the one who made the call to Iglesias in Albuquerque, urging that he give him the latest update on whether he‘s -he‘s prosecuting those people for voter fraud?

FEINSTEIN: Well, no, I don‘t conceive that we would call Senator Domenici. I mean, Senator...

MATTHEWS: Because he would tell you who told him to put the pressure on Iglesias.

FEINSTEIN: Well, I don‘t know that anybody did.

And I think that where we want to go is, who put the names on the list? That is what is important, is who...

MATTHEWS: But it may have been Domenici who might have supplied that one name.

FEINSTEIN: No, I don‘t...

MATTHEWS: “This guy is not cooperating, because (ABQ GOP Rep.) Heather Wilson is trying to get him to do something. I am trying to get him to do something, and he won‘t do it. So, let‘s get rid of this guy.”

How do we know that didn‘t happen?

FEINSTEIN: Well, Senator Domenici may have made a suggestion. I don‘t know. But, right now, that is not the issue. Right now, the issue is to find out, candidly, whether the White House made a decision that these people were not loyal enough or were too independent or wouldn‘t carry out a bidding on a given case. I think, for me, those are the issues."

A "preliminary inquiry" is underway by the Senate Ethics Committee into Pete's October phone call to Iglesias during which Iglesias says he felt pressured to bring indictments in the courthouse corruption case; indictments that may have helped Wilson in her close congressional contest against Dem Patricia Madrid. Domenici has hired a criminal defense attorney, but Feinstein's comments raise the question of how much zeal there ultimately will be by Pete's Dem colleagues to probe Pete. The bad news: Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who has been leading the charge on the attorney scandal on Judiciary isn't showing the same deference toward Domenici as Feinstein.


Iglesias thinks testimony this week before the House from former top Justice Department official Monica Goodling could finally put on the record what the thinks the real reasons were for his firing. They've been saying performance. Will that change to politics?

Wilson & Domenici
You have to give Pete credit. Through thick and thin he conducts a regular weekly news conference with NM radio reporters. He's not answering questions about the US Attorney debacle, but everything else is fair game. The most recent edition shows Domenici in good form, displaying broad knowledge on immigration and relaying it with more than usual passion. His voice is craggy and his speech slower than the old days, but it's a strong performance that doesn't give any encouragement to prospective opponents.

Senator Bingaman also does a radio roundtable and NM Congressmen Pearce and Udall are also readily available. The lone standout is ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson, who recently refused to be interviewed on her Iraq votes and who has had past bouts of cagey behavior in dealing with the media. She's is well-informed on the issues of the day, but has apparently felt burnt a couple of times by her media treatment.

To anyone who doesn't trust politicians--that should include everyone except the politicians ---Heather's behavior is disturbing. Before my GOP friends fly off the handle, let's point out this is not a partisan issue. Democratic Attorney General Patricia Madrid often refused to be interviewed by the ABQ Journal during her challenge to Heather last year, another woeful example of a politician asserting control over the public dialogue. A regular news conference by Wilson, as Domenici does, might just help her politically. More important, it would be the right thing to do.


Speaking of communicating, the Associated Press said this week that Wilson "has backed President Bush for much of the war but has opposed plans for a troop surge currently under way." Not quite. Wilson is against the surge of troops into Baghdad but, as she explains on her Web site, (look under speeches for 1/8/07) she is FOR the surge of troops into Anbar province.

"The President is sending an additional 20,000 troops to Iraq...Some of those troops are going to Anbar, and I think we do need to reinforce our troops in the Sunni heartland to fight alQaeda in Iraq and strengthen relationships that will make it less likely that they will be welcome there over the long term. But I am skeptical about the Baghdad mission."

This is hair-splitting at its finest that we've previously covered and can hardly fault the AP and other media for not picking up on. It does show Wilson's dilemma as she tries to pacify a pro-war Republican base while attempting to soothe anti-war Dems and Independents. But there is not much middle ground for anyone on this war. In the voters' minds you are either for it or against it. Wilson had a pro-war problem last year when she narrowly won by less than 900 votes. It remains her problem today. Don't say we didn't tell you.


What I learned from a lengthy (and I mean lengthy) profile of former NM US Attorney Iglesias in the Washington Post: He is of Kuna Indian heritage...

Not everyone is happy with Big Bill's prez run, even though you might think so after looking at that Survey USA poll showing New Mexicans giving him a whopping 74% approval, his highest ever and also recorded after his Guv win in November. But now comes self-described "moderate Republican" Gary Simpson of Rio Rancho to rain on Bill's parade and make sure his head isn't swelling. "It didn't play well with me that he did not make his presidential announcement in the state where he is governor. It's amazing how quickly he has forgotten where he got his political break years ago. I found it interesting that (KRQE-TV) 13's poll shows a majority (53%) of New Mexicans don't think he has a chance of getting elected and the people they interviewed on the street complained about his absence from the state. I'm ready for him to go away and I don't care how." Said reader Simpson.

OK, Gary. But if you succeed in making him go away, you will be responsible for helping to fill the blog every day.

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