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Thread: "Bush Era" Over

  1. #856
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Maybe it would have all been different if only Ma Bush had shown the boy a Brain in a Jar ...

    The Strange Bush Fetus Secret

  2. #857

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    That clip is hilarious. Look at it while imagining a laugh track. "She says to her teenage kid, 'Here's a fetus!'"

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    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    "Upon their son's death, Rick and Karen Santorum opted not to bring his body to a funeral home. Instead, they bundled him in a blanket and drove him to Karen's parents' home in Pittsburgh. There, they spent several hours kissing and cuddling Gabriel with his three siblings, ages 6, 4 and 1 1/2. They took photos, sang lullabies in his ear and held a private Mass," The Washington Post reported in 2005.

  4. #859
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fabrizio View Post

    That clip is hilarious. Look at it while imagining a laugh track. "She says to her teenage kid, 'Here's a fetus!'"
    If ONLY Oliver Stone had his hands on that tidbit when he was making "W"

  5. #860
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    DEAD CERTAIN

    The Presidential memoirs of George W. Bush.


    For Bush, decisions happened without the weighing of evidence and options.

    He merely had to ask himself, “Who am I?”


    THE NEW YORKER
    by George Packer
    NOVEMBER 29, 2010

    BOOKS

    President George W. Bush prepared for writing his memoirs by reading “Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant.” “The book captures his distinctive voice,” the ex-President writes, in his less distinctive voice. “He uses anecdotes to re-create his experience during the Civil War. I could see why his work had endured.” Grant’s work has endured because, as Matthew Arnold observed, it has “the high merit of saying clearly in the fewest possible words what had to be said, and saying it, frequently, with shrewd and unexpected turns of expression.” Grant marches across the terrain of his life (stopping short of his corrupt failure of a Presidency) with the same relentless and unflinching realism with which he pursued Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. On several occasions, he even accuses himself of “moral cowardice.” Grant never intended to write his memoirs, but in 1884, swindled by his financial partner, broke, and with a death sentence of throat cancer hanging over him, he set out to earn enough money to provide for his future widow. He completed the work a year later, just days before his death, and Julia Dent Grant lived out her life in comfort.

    Modern ex-Presidents tend to write memoirs for reasons less heroic than Grant’s. Richard Nixon couldn’t stop producing his, in one form or another, in a quest to revise history’s devastating verdict. Bill Clinton needed the world’s undying attention. Why did George W. Bush write “Decision Points” (Crown; $35)? He tells us on the first page. He wanted to make a contribution to the study of American history, but he also wanted to join the section of advice books featuring leadership tips from successful executives: “I write to give readers a perspective on decision making in a complex environment. Many of the decisions that reach the president’s desk are tough calls, with strong arguments on both sides. Throughout the book, I describe the options I weighed and the principles I followed. I hope this will give you a better sense of why I made the decisions I did. Perhaps it will even prove useful as you make choices in your own life.”

    Here is a prediction: “Decision Points” will not endure. Its prose aims for tough-minded simplicity but keeps landing on simpleminded sententiousness. Though Bush credits no collaborator, his memoirs read as if they were written by an admiring sidekick who is familiar with every story Bush ever told but never got to know the President well enough to convey his inner life. Very few of its four hundred and ninety-three pages are not self-serving. Bush, honing his executive skills as part owner of the Texas Rangers, decides to fire his underperforming manager, Bobby Valentine: “I tried to deliver the news in a thoughtful way, and Bobby handled it like a professional. I was grateful when, years later, I heard him say, ‘I voted for George W. Bush, even though he fired me.’ ” At the dramatic height of the book, on the morning of September 11th, “I called Condi from the secure phone in the limo. She told me there had been a third plane crash, this one into the Pentagon. I sat back in my seat and absorbed her words. My thoughts clarified: The first plane could have been an accident. The second was definitely an attack. The third was a declaration of war. My blood was boiling. We were going to find out who did this, and kick their ass.”

    The rare moments of candor come at other people’s expense. After his mother has a miscarriage, her teen-age son drives her to the hospital: “This was a subject I never expected to be discussing with Mother. I also never expected to see the remains of the fetus, which she had saved in a jar.” (In other appearances, Barbara Bush is heard telling her son, “You can’t win,” as he weighs a race against Governor Ann Richards, of Texas, and scolding him to “get over it. Make up your mind, and move on,” as he tries to decide whether to run for President.) During the worst period of violence in Iraq, the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, implores the President to withdraw some troops in order to give the Republicans a boost before the 2006 midterms. “I made it clear I would set troop levels to achieve victory in Iraq, not victory at the polls,” Bush writes. That’s the characteristic anecdote of “Decision Points”: the President always gets the last, serenely self-assured word, leaving others quietly impressed or looking like fools. Scenes end with him saying, “Get to work,” “Let’s go,” or “We’re going to stay confident and patient, cool and steady.” Bush kept two war trophies in his private study off the Oval Office—a brick from the pulverized house of the Taliban leader Mullah Omar, and a pistol found on Saddam Hussein when he was captured. There’s plenty of moral cowardice assigned, but none of it to Bush himself.

    As for the confessions of wrongdoing that autobiography requires to be minimally credible: during his drinking years, Bush once asked a family friend at dinner in Kennebunkport, “So, what is sex like after fifty?”—getting stern looks across the table from his parents and his wife. He called the woman the next day to apologize, was forgiven, thought about his life, and soon went off booze for good. Nothing about the Iraq war or Hurricane Katrina approaches this level of self-searching. When we arrive at the worst moment of his Presidency, in the aftermath of Katrina, it comes in the form of an unspeakable wrong done to the President himself: the rapper Kanye West accuses a man as clearly color-blind as Bush of racism.

    Every memoir is a tissue of omission and evasion; memoirs by public figures are especially unreliable. What’s remarkable about “Decision Points” is how frequently and casually it leaves out facts, large and small, whose absence draws more attention than their inclusion would have. In his account of the 2000 election, Bush neglects to mention that he lost the popular vote. He refers to the firing, in 2002, of his top economic adviser, Lawrence Lindsey, but not to the fact that it came immediately after Lindsey violated the Administration’s optimistic line by saying that the Iraq war could cost as much as two hundred billion dollars. In a brief recounting of one of the central scandals of his Presidency, the Administration’s outing of the intelligence officer Valerie Plame, Bush doesn’t acknowledge that two senior White House aides, Karl Rove and Lewis (Scooter) Libby, alerted half a dozen reporters to her identity.

    Even the story of Bush’s admission to Harvard Business School, in early 1973, is an occasion for historical revision. Bush describes a dinner at a Houston restaurant with his father and his brother Jeb: “Dad and I were having a discussion about my future. Jeb blurted out, ‘George got into Harvard.’ After some thought, Dad said, ‘Son, you ought to seriously consider going. It would be a good way to broaden your horizons.’ ” According to many accounts, including Bill Minutaglio’s well-regarded biography “First Son,” the conversation took place in the Washington, D.C., study of George, Sr., after a thoroughly plastered George, Jr., had driven his car and a neighbor’s garbage can onto his parents’ driveway, staggered into the house, and challenged his disgusted father, “You wanna go mano a mano right here?”

    The steady drip of these elisions and falsifications suggests a deeper necessity than the ordinary touch-ups of personal history. Bush has no tolerance for ambiguity; he can’t revere his father and, on occasion, want to defy him, or lose charge of his White House for a minute, or allow himself to wonder if Iraq might ultimately fail. The structure of “Decision Points,” with each chapter centered on a key issue—stem-cell research, interrogation and wiretapping, the invasion of Iraq, the fight against AIDS in Africa, the surge, the “freedom agenda,” the financial crisis—reveals the essential qualities of the Decider. There are hardly any decision points at all. The path to each decision is so short and irresistible, more like an electric pulse than like a weighing of options, that the reader is hard-pressed to explain what happened. Suddenly, it’s over, and there’s no looking back. The decision to go to war “was an accretion,” Richard Haass, the director of policy-planning at the State Department until the invasion of Iraq, told me. “A decision was not made—a decision happened, and you can’t say when or how.”

    In Bush’s telling, the non-decision decision is a constant feature of his Presidential policymaking. On September 11th, when Bush finally reached a secure communications center and held a National Security Council meeting by videoconference, he opened by saying, “We are at war against terror.” It was a fateful description of the new reality, creating the likelihood of an overreaction. No other analyses are even considered in “Decision Points.” Soon afterward, Senator Tom Daschle, the Democratic Majority Leader, cautioned the President about the implications of the word “war.” Bush writes, “I listened to his concerns, but I disagreed. If four coordinated attacks by a terrorist network that had pledged to kill as many Americans as possible was not an act of war, then what was it? A breach of diplomatic protocol?”

    Here is another feature of the non-decision: once his own belief became known to him, Bush immediately caricatured opposing views and impugned the motives of those who held them. If there was an honest and legitimate argument on the other side, then the President would have to defend his non-decision, taking it out of the redoubt of personal belief and into the messy empirical realm of contingency and uncertainty. So critics of his stem-cell ban are dismissed as scientists eager for more government cash, or advocacy groups looking to “raise large amounts of money,” or Democrats who saw “a political winner.”

    On the policy of torturing captured Al Qaeda suspects, Bush writes that he refused to approve two techniques requested by the Central Intelligence Agency but gave the O.K. to waterboarding. George Tenet, the C.I.A. director, asked permission to use waterboarding on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the operational mastermind behind September 11th. “I thought about my meeting with Danny Pearl’s widow, who was pregnant with his son when he was murdered,” Bush writes. (Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter, was reportedly beheaded by K.S.M.) “I thought about the 2,973 people stolen from their families by al Qaeda on 9/11. And I thought about my duty to protect the country from another act of terror. ‘Damn right,’ I said.” By Bush’s own account, revenge was among his chief motives in sanctioning torture. “I had asked the most senior legal officers in the U.S. government to review the interrogation methods, and they had assured me they did not constitute torture.” The President had been told what he wanted to hear by loyal subordinates, but, his memoirs make clear, he did not consider the moral and practical consequences of authorizing what most people who were not senior legal officers in the Bush Administration would describe as torture. One crucial consequence—the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib—receives a single page (most of which is about Bush’s reasons for not firing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld).

    Bush once told an elementary-school class in Crawford, Texas, “Is it hard to make decisions as president? Not really. If you know what you believe, decisions come pretty easy. If you’re one of these types of people that are always trying to figure out which way the wind is blowing, decision making can be difficult. But I find that I know who I am. I know what I believe in.” For Bush, making decisions is an identity question: Who am I? The answer turns Presidential decisions into foregone conclusions: I am someone who believes in the dignity of life, I am the protector of the American people, I am a loyal boss, I am a good man who cares about other people, I am the calcium in the backbone. This sense of conviction made Bush a better candidate than the two Democrats he was fortunate to have as opponents in his Presidential campaigns. But real decisions, which demand the weighing of compelling contrary arguments and often present a choice between bad options, were psychologically intolerable to the Decider. They confused the identity question.

    Was Bush this rigid and incurious all his life? “Decision Points” records a notable lack of personal development, other than the famous turn away from alcohol and toward evangelical Christianity, around the time Bush was forty. But “A Charge to Keep,” his 1999 campaign book, describes just the sort of decision, one based on a careful balance of evidence and principles, that hardly appears in “Decision Points”: Governor Bush refused to commute the death sentence of Karla Faye Tucker, a double murderer who claimed to have been born again in prison and had become a cause célèbre; and he commuted to life imprisonment the death sentence of Henry Lee Lucas, an unrepentant serial killer who nonetheless had probably not committed the murder for which he had been sentenced to death. Both decisions were unpopular with many of Bush’s constituents. The account in “A Charge to Keep” includes a long discussion of the evidence and the law, and little about Bush’s heart or backbone.

    “George W. Bush and the Redemptive Dream,” a new study by Dan P. McAdams, a psychology professor at Northwestern (Oxford; $29.95), argues that September 11th offered a geopolitical version of what the personal conversion experience had given Bush: a story of redemption and mission—in this case, one that could be extended to the country and the world. Nine days after the “day of fire,” Bush addressed a joint session of Congress: “In our grief and anger we have found our mission and our moment. . . . We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage. We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.” McAdams traces Bush’s resolve over the Iraq war to this “redemptive dream”: “Psychological research shows that powerful narratives in people’s lives make it nearly impossible, in many cases, to consider ideas, opinions, possibilities, and facts that run counter to the story.” By this interpretation, 9/11 shut and sealed the door to Presidential decision-making. Bush’s account of the most consequential episode of his Presidency, the war in Iraq, does not undermine the hypothesis.

    "I had tried to address the threat from Saddam Hussein without war,” Bush writes. The accounts of numerous Administration officials and journalists say otherwise: by the summer of 2002, war in Iraq was inevitable. The timing and the manner of this non-decision decision make for the cloudiest story in the book. It describes no sequence of National Security Council meetings to discuss the options and coördinate the views of different agencies. Instead, Bush comes up with an approach called “coercive diplomacy”: develop a military plan while trying to disarm the Iraqi dictator through international pressure. “Ultimately, it would be Saddam Hussein’s decision to make.” So Bush’s decision became Saddam’s. In “coercive diplomacy,” Bush explains, the diplomatic track would run parallel to the military track. Somehow, shortly before the invasion, the parallel tracks would converge and become one track. Then, it seemed, the decision became the train’s to make: things were moving too fast to be stopped. During this period, Bush relates, “I sought opinions on Iraq from a variety of sources.” By coincidence, every one of them urged him to do it. Vice-President Dick Cheney, at one of their weekly lunches, asked, “Are you going to take care of this guy, or not?” Cheney knew his man.

    One of the voices in the President’s ear was Elie Wiesel’s, speaking of “a moral obligation to act against evil.” The words were bound to move a man like Bush. “Many of those who demonstrated against military action in Iraq were devoted advocates of human rights,” he says. “I understood why people might disagree on the threat Saddam Hussein posed to the United States. But I didn’t see how anyone could deny that liberating Iraq advanced the cause of human rights.” Some of Bush’s critics found this argument specious and hypocritical; they failed to grasp the President’s profound need to be on the side of the redeeming angels. (The chapter on AIDS in Africa shows Bush at his best. His desire to display American caring led directly to a generous policy.)

    The war came—and then looting, chaos, state collapse, insurgency, sectarian war, and no weapons of mass destruction. This last development left Bush “shocked” and “angry,” a recurring state of mind in “Decision Points”: the objections of Justice Department officials to warrantless wiretapping also “stunned” him, Abu Ghraib “blindsided” him, and the looting of Baghdad prompted him to demand, “What the hell is happening?” But Bush was undaunted. He writes, at one point, “In later years, some critics would charge that we failed to prepare for the postwar period. That sure isn’t how I remember it”; and, at another, “The absence of WMD stockpiles did not change the fact that Saddam was a threat.” All these years and lives later, the blitheness of such statements is breathtaking. It would be impossible for Bush still to claim, as he did at a press conference in 2004, that he couldn’t think of any mistakes regarding Iraq. Among the ones he lists are two P.R. disasters (the “Mission Accomplished” banner, and his challenge to insurgents to “bring ’em on”), and two substantive failures: the lack of sufficient troops to impose security at the start, and the “intelligence failure on Iraq’s WMD.” The first he ascribes to a desire not to look like occupiers, the second to the C.I.A.

    What he cannot explain is why he allowed Iraq to descend into a nightmare of violence, year after year, until, by 2006, millions of Iraqis were fleeing the country. Perhaps he didn’t know what was going on, having been shielded by sycophantic advisers and yes-sir generals. Yet “Decision Points”—indeed, the whole trajectory of Bush’s Presidency—suggests that he had the information but not the character to face it. “I waited over three years for a successful strategy,” he says in a chapter called “Surge.” But what sort of wartime leader—a term he likes to use—would “wait” for three years, rather than demand a better strategy and the heads of his failed advisers? “Only after the sectarian violence erupted in 2006 did it become clear that more security was needed before political progress could continue,” he writes. It’s a statement to make anyone who spent time in Iraq from 2003 onward laugh or cry. During the war years, Bush fell in love with his own resolve, his refusal to waver, and this flaw cost Iraqis and Americans dearly. For him, the war remains “eternally right,” a success with unfortunate footnotes. His decisions, he still believes, made America safer, gave Iraqis hope, and changed the future of the Middle East for the better. Of these three claims, only one is true—the second—and it’s a truth steeped in tragedy.

    Bush ends “Decision Points” with the sanguine thought that history’s verdict on his Presidency will come only after his death. During his years in office, two wars turned into needless disasters, and the freedom agenda created such deep cynicism around the world that the word itself was spoiled. In America, the gap between the rich few and the vast majority widened dramatically, contributing to a historic financial crisis and an ongoing recession; the poisoning of the atmosphere continued unabated; and the Constitution had less and less say over the exercise of executive power. Whatever the judgments of historians, these will remain foregone conclusions. ♦

    © 2010 Condé Nast Digital. All rights reserved.

  6. #861
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    My thoughts clarified: The first plane could have been an accident. The second was definitely an attack. The third was a declaration of war. My blood was boiling. We were going to find out who did this, and kick their ass.”
    "We" elected a Saturday Afternoon Matinee Special fan for President.

    "Kick their ass"??!?

    Nice memoir.

  7. #862
    Forum Veteran MidtownGuy's Avatar
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    Yeah, but Obama's lack of testicular fortitude makes me wish we had a little bit of moxy in the White House now.

  8. #863
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    That's just what we need in a politician.

    Balls.

    The same "balls" that got us INTO this mess, or have you forgotten MTG?


    BTW, you realize that the president has very little testicular fortitude without a concerted effort and a consent from the House and Senate, right?

    I would blame the inability to come to a decision in the House and Senate as the main reason we can't do anything. The President in times of low "clear and present danger" is little more than a stopgap, a circuit breaker that can only get what he wants IF he gets something through the House and Senate and then adds a bunch of completely unrelated line items...... *cough*Bush*cough*.

  9. #864
    Forum Veteran MidtownGuy's Avatar
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    Oh please. Obama is not a leader. Period. He talked a good game and that's it. Rather than going back and rehashing the past two years with you, let's just say I stand by what I wrote. And YES balls are what is needed in a politician. Brains too (which Bush lacked), but definitely balls to make him potent.

  10. #865
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Yeah, he isn't a leader.

    And don't bother re-hashing. You are dissatisfied with anyone with DIPLOMACY. You want someone up there to yell and swear and make enemies of everyone while in the back of your head you KNOW that that does not work in our system.

    The only thing YOUR perfect president would accomplish would be a standstill....


    Although Berlusconi might like him!

  11. #866
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Cyber Oops ...

    Bush Audiobook Chapters Now Include "Bush It" For Windows Users

    TALKING POINTS MEMO
    Ryan J. Reilly
    December 28, 2010

    If you plug your brand-new "Decision Points" audiobook into your Windows computer, you'll get some pretty unexpected track titles. Why? Because in 2007, various artists made a protest album [pdf] called "George W. Bush," and the online database that Windows Media uses to fill in the track titles thinks your audiobook is their album.

    There have been complaints of late -- we're guessing from someone who got a copy for Christmas -- that chapter titles like "Innocent Children Die" and "Bush It" were popping up when they loaded the album on Windows Media Player.

    Some creative hacker? Probably not. The problem stems from the database that many common computer jukebox programs connect to in order to download CD track titles, artwork and other information. But while iTunes and other music programs use Sony's Gracenote database, which is usually populated by content providers (like Random House), Windows Media Player uses a less-common open source database to provide its users with track and album information.

    Here's the explanation Random House publicist Tina Constable gave us:

    "In that specific platform, anyone can contribute their own description of music or audio CD tracks," Tina Constable of Random House. "If someone has bought the audio version of 'Decision Points' and play it on the Windows Media Player, that spoofing may or may not occur. But if you play it on iTunes, or you play it on Real or you play it on your own computer that's not linked to Windows Media Player than that issue doesn't occur. The product itself is not faulty and the product itself is fine."

    "The spoofing has entered into the internet-based Windows Media Player database, in which anyone can contribute their own description of any music/audio cd's track," she said in a follow up e-mail. "The bottom line is that the hacker has taken advantage of the open source environment that is a part of all internet based media libraries. We cannot control the internet nor Microsoft policy."

    Here's what shows up when you load the CD onto Windows Media Player:



    Late Update: Reader MG alerts us that Windows Media Player uses AMG as it's data provider, "which is most certainly not open source."

    © 2010 TPM Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.

  12. #867

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    If that's the only choice, I'll take balls any day. Everyone now knows they can walk all over him (and by extension, us) with impunity. It would be nice if we could find someone who could work it both ways, but they don't seem to be volunteering (or able to make the cut)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ninjahedge View Post
    Yeah, he isn't a leader.

    And don't bother re-hashing. You are dissatisfied with anyone with DIPLOMACY. You want someone up there to yell and swear and make enemies of everyone while in the back of your head you KNOW that that does not work in our system.

    The only thing YOUR perfect president would accomplish would be a standstill....


    Although Berlusconi might like him!

  13. #868
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    And that's the problem.

    Balls only work in bed and beer pong.

  14. #869
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    Default Uhhhh, about that Legacy thing ...

    A nice hefty volume for George's new library ...

    Bush White House Broke Elections Law, Report Says
    "The evidence presented in this report shows a systematic misuse of federal resources."

    NY TIMES
    By ERIC LIPTON
    January 24, 2011

    WASHINGTON — The Bush White House, particularly before the 2006 midterm elections, routinely violated a federal law that prohibits use of federal tax dollars to pay for political activities by creating a “political boiler room” that coordinated Republican campaign activities nationwide, a report issued Monday by an independent federal agency concludes.

    The report [pdf] by the Office of Special Counsel finds that the Bush administration’s Office of Political Affairs — overseen by Karl Rove — served almost as an extension of the Republican National Committee, developing a “target list” of Congressional races, organizing dozens of briefings for political appointees to press them to work for party candidates, and sending cabinet officials out to help these campaigns.

    The report, based on about 100,000 pages of documents and interviews with 80 Bush administration officials in an investigation of more than three years, documented how these political activities accelerated before the 2006 midterm elections.

    This included helping coordinate fund-raising efforts by Republican candidates and pressing Bush administration political appointees to help with Republican voter-turnout pitches, particularly in the 72 hours leading up to the election when Democrats took control of the House and Senate for the first time in a dozen years.

    The Office of Special Counsel, a relatively obscure federal agency, is charged with enforcing the Hatch Act, a 1939 law that prohibits federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity. Certain members of the White House political staff — including the top aides at the Office of Political Affairs — are exempt, as are the president, vice president and members of the cabinet. But the law still prohibits the use of federal money, even by these officials, to support political causes.

    The report by the Special Counsel found that during the Bush administration, senior staff members at the Office of Political Affairs violated the Hatch Act by organizing 75 political briefings from 2001 to 2007 for Republican appointees at top federal agencies in an effort to enlist them to help Republicans get elected to Congress.

    Mr. Rove, the Republican political strategist who oversaw the Office of Political Affairs, and Ken Mehlman, who was for a period the director of the office, did not respond Monday to requests for comment.

    Former employees of the office during the Bush administration told the investigators that they saw these “political briefings as no more than informational discussions about the political landscape.” The investigators found that most of these briefings took place in federal workplaces or while the federal employees were on duty.

    “These briefings created an environment aimed at assisting Republican candidates, constituting political activity within the meaning of the Hatch Act,” the 118-page report said.

    According to PowerPoint slides the investigators collected, the briefings highlighted the importance of the “G.O.P. ground game” and talked about the “Republican Offensive,” in certain states, while detailing the “Republican Defense” in others.

    The investigators also found evidence that the Bush White House improperly classified travel by senior administration officials as official government business, “when it was, in fact, political,” and the costs associated with this travel were never reimbursed.

    A Justice Department official on Monday declined to comment when asked if the department might file charges based on the report.

    The Obama administration, just last week, announced that it was terminating its own version of the Office of Political Affairs, as Mr. Obama decided to move his re-election campaign operation to Chicago, with the duties of the political office being taken up by the Democratic National Committee.

    © 2011 The New York Times Company

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