George Bush was not about to let Sam Fox lose out on becoming ambassador to Brussels just because he gave $50,000 to the Swift Boat campaign against John Kerry. Call him loyal or stubborn, but clearly the president was very grateful for Fox’s assistance. So after the White House withdrew the Fox nomination when it became clear than Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations committee were lining up against it, the president did not tell Missouri’s largest Republican donor to go home and unpack. Instead, Bush simply waited for the senators to leave town, and has now resubmitted Fox’s name to serve out this Congress as a recess appointment.

Democrats are infuriated, but there’s not much they can do but scream. And the more they scream, the clearer donors hear precisely the opposite message of the one Democrats had hoped to send by rejecting Fox. Instead of discouraging contributions to the independent groups that do the dirty work for campaigns, the president’s intercession on behalf of just such a donor, and his willingness to endure a firestorm of criticism for standing by his nominee/undermining the confirmation process, makes clear just how appreciated such donors are.

Let the mud-throwing continue.

Republicans clearly think they have a winner with their criticism of Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Syria. After all, doesn’t the visit of the Speaker of the House to a country we don’t talk to to send the message that at least one branch of the government is ready to talk? And how do you square that with the argument that when it comes to foreign policy, the nation is supposed to speak with one voice, no matter how wrongheaded or distrusted that voice is?

There are two problems with the pitch, though. The first is that Pelosi wasn’t the only visitor to Syria this week; there were also the Republican congressmen who came, led by Virginia Republican Frank Wolf, who made clear he couldn’t care less about the administration’s request that he not go to see President Assad. "I don't care what the administration says on this," Rep. Wolf told reporters. "I want us to be successful in Iraq. I want us to clamp down on Hezbollah."

If Wolf doesn’t care what the administration says, and he’s a Republican congressman, why should Nancy Pelosi? And more important, why should we? It’s true that it is American policy to isolate Syria, but we do have diplomatic relations; it’s not as if Pelosi and Wolf were cavorting with declared enemies. At best, it’s a question of degree.

The second problem, and even more basic one, is that most Americans have lost all confidence in this administration’s handling of foreign policy. How can Nancy Pelosi’s travels possibly make it worse? Who is Dick Cheney to criticize? In a contest between Cheney and almost anyone, Cheney loses. The real claim here is that the Administration has a right to demand absolute loyalty to its failed policies, and as public support for the war in Iraq continues to plummet, it’s clear that dog don’t hunt.


Bill O’Reilly was right.

Yes, I did type those words. Not about everything, but definitely about the Duke rape case.

Early on, O’Reilly wrote that all charges against the three defendants should simply be dismissed.

I went a little nuts. I’ve been a student of rape law for decades now, and I pulled out every trick to try to prove Bill wrong.

The problem was, I was relying on what the prosecutor said. I assumed that whatever axe he had to grind, he wasn’t lying about the evidence in the case, and that his office would never have indicted without some evidence that backed up her account. In short, I assumed he was doing his job.


Nifong is a local prosecutor, not a U.S. attorney, but the point holds: If you’re wondering why Democrats are so steamed about firing U.S. attorneys for political reasons, this is why. Prosecutors are politicians, in the sense that they have to be elected or connected to get their jobs, but they’re not supposed to act politically in doing them. It’s a fine line, to be sure, but ignore it and you end up with a prosecution like the one in Durham, that is rotten to the core.

O’Reilly was right about that. It should be dismissed. Sorry Bill.

Susan Estrich is currently the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California and a member of the Board of Contributors of USA Today. She writes the "Portia" column for American Lawyer Media and is a contributing editor of The Los Angeles Times. She was appointed by the president to serve on the National Holocaust Council and by the mayor of the City of Los Angeles to serve on that city's Ethics Commission. A woman of firsts, she was the first woman president of the Harvard Law Review and the first woman to head a national presidential campaign (Dukakis). Estrich is committed to paving the way for women to assume positions of leadership. Books by Estrich include "Real Rape," "Getting Away with Murder: How Politics is Destroying the Criminal Justice System" and "Dealing with Dangerous Offenders." Her book "Making the Case for Yourself: A Diet Book for Smart Women," is a departure from her other works, encouraging women to take care of themselves by engaging the mind to fight for a healthy body. Her latest book, The Los Angeles Times bestseller, "Sex & Power," takes an impassioned look at the division of power between men and women in the American workforce, proving that the idea of gender equality is still just an idea.