Political Week Ahead: Gonzales, Wolfowitz Troubles
MADELEINE BRAND, host:
NPR's senior Washington editor Ron Elving - never smarmy, never hypocritical -joins us now. And Ron, you don't want to fill us in on your extracurricular activities, do you?
RON ELVING: I'll just keep laughing.
BRAND: OK. Let's get a little more serious now, talk about the White House. A lot of personnel issues lately in the news for the White House. And is this unusual for a second term president?
ELVING: It's not unusual. In fact, it seems almost automatic. In the second term, the president's many issues and policies all seem to take on human faces.
And part of that is so that it's comprehensible for us all. But it also is the sort of natural deterioration of the power structure. People start to fall out with each other. Some people leave the administration and write tell-all books.
And for one reason or another we all come to focus on the careers of people who come to symbolize the power issues and the policy issues.
BRAND: And we're talking of course in this case of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. He's embattled. Paul Wolfowitz, head of the World Bank, also embattled.
What are we expecting to see in those two cases?
ELVING: The Gonzales case has hit a point where the White House has dug in its heels and said we are not going to ask him to resign. And they have, in fact, I think encouraged him not to resign. And they want to fight out the fight of whether or not Congress has the right to push him any harder.
They don't particularly want to think about the consequences that this is having for the rest of their agenda as they express what would have to be called a lack of great respect for the sensibilities of the senators who are calling for the resignation and who are strongly signaling they want the White House to get out of the way.
But for now it appears that Gonzales is going to stay and we're going to see a parade of people subpoenaed to continue to talk about the firing of the U.S. attorneys and anything else that may come up out of the Justice Department.
With respect to the Paul Wolfowitz case he is being grilled today at this hour by a special ad hoc committee that was created by the World Bank governing body that will determine whether or not he will be asked to resign over the salary arrangements and other featherbedding that he did for his girlfriend.
BRAND: OK. You mentioned subpoena. Speaking of subpoenas, Condoleezza Rice is about to be subpoenaed I understand to testify before the House. What's that about?
ELVING: Last week the House Oversight Committee authorized subpoenas so - by a heavy vote. And the committee can subpoena her to come before the committee to talk, not about any of the things that we've been focused on recently, but to go all the way back to that story about Iraq trying to uranium in Niger.
This goes back several years. It was the source of the whole Plame leak investigation. It's an old sore point. And Condoleezza Rice has said she respects the oversight committee - the oversight committee's authority to ask questions.
But she frankly feels that this is one that's just been "looked into and looked into" - to quote her directly. And she just doesn't think there's any value in it so she doesn't plan to go back and talk to them about it in person.
BRAND: So she won't testify?
ELVING: She is saying that she doesn't see any point in it. She would probably respond to some sort of written interrogatories, but she doesn't want to have, as the president calls it, a klieg light session in front of the committee, to have a big dramatic review of what she may have done at that particular time.
So she's going to resist it. And the committee can try to have her held in contempt.
BRAND: NPR's senior Washington editor Ron Elving. Thank you very much.
ELVING: Thank you, Madeleine.
CHADWICK: And one more political note, later in this program we'll go to San Diego where all the top Democratic presidential contenders were this weekend trying to woe delegates at California's annual Democratic convention. And did they change any minds?
STEVE PROFFITT: I'm a little confused because you have on a Hillary and an Obama button.
Ms. LILY BRAY (Delegate, San Diego Democratic Convention): I'm undecided. I just want a Democrat to get into office, you know? I'm kind of leaning towards - I'll put Mrs. Clinton button. I'm undecided, in a way.
CHADWICK: DAY TO DAY senior producer Steve Proffitt on that story of one delegate's back-and-forth weekend in San Diego. That's coming up.