...when little things start falling through the cracks. Like when your staff accidentally posts the wrong flag on the White House website in advance of your trip to Vietnam. Until yesterday evening, as a First Read source pointed out, the White House had the flag of the former Republic of Vietnam (i.e., South Vietnam) on its site. When asked about it, White House staffers told NBC's Les Kretman that they had just become aware of the "wrong flag" and would fix it.
Or, like when you announce that you're renominating the controversial Kenneth Tomlinson to chair the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and that renomination comes after the inspector general at the State Department recently ruled that Tomlinson had used his office to improperly run a horse-racing operation and had put a friend on the payroll. Tomlinson denied he did anything improper. Last year, he was ousted from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting after evidence suggested that he had violated rules meant to keep partisan politics out of public radio and TV.
Yesterday, the House "delayed by a day action on extending a routine stopgap spending bill that Mr. Bush wanted to sign before departing for Moscow." The Wall Street Journal reports, "As a result, a White House aide will have to fly to Asia with the bill, so the president can sign it to keep government agencies operating after this weekend... Smarting from losses in last week's midterms, Republicans are less eager to march to the beat of the president's drum. There is rank-and-file resentment that Mr. Bush didn't announce the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld until after Election Day, and party leaders are more preoccupied with saving their jobs than moving the president's agenda."
One day after the House failed to pass a Vietnam trade bill by a two-thirds vote but still seemed likely to later pass it by a simple majority, the New York Times says GOP leaders have withdrawn the legislation. "The failure of the Vietnam bill was a deep disappointment and embarrassment for the White House… [Its] failure touched off a fusillade of partisan recriminations, with Republicans blaming Democrats for trying to sabotage the bill and Democrats saying that some Republicans, bitter after losing the election last week, were trying to embarrass Mr. Bush."