Just As I Thought

With friends like these

Isn’t it interesting that the most partisian president in recent memory — the uniter, remember? — is being criticized by his own party, and more astonishing, some Republicans are even defending John Kerry.

Sen. John F. Kerry’s presidential campaign is getting an unexpected boost from an unlikely bunch: former Bush administration officials and congressional Republicans.

In the past week, GOP Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Chuck Hagel (Neb.) have broken ranks and defended Kerry against President Bush’s assertion that the Massachusetts senator is weak on national defense.

Over the weekend, Richard A. Clarke, Bush’s former counterterrorism coordinator, said Bush focused too little attention on al Qaeda before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and too much on Iraq afterward.

… Republicans are unintentionally assisting Kerry on the domestic front, too. Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and other congressional conservatives are accusing Bush of driving up deficits, a top Kerry campaign message, and misleading the country about the cost of the new Medicare law, another Kerry target.

… In a broader context, Clarke sounded concerns expressed by O’Neill and John J. DiIulio Jr., the former head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives: that Bush is running an insulated White House driven by conservative ideology and politics. DiIulio, the first former Bush official to publicly criticize the president, said in a 2002 magazine interview that “it’s the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis.”

Will there be more rats deserting this ship?

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