The latest from the Political Grapevine:
Some Pols Skip Allawi's Speech
There were several standing ovations from Democratic and Republican members alike during Prime Minister Allawi's speech to that joint meeting of Congress today, but only 19 of the Senate's 49 Democrats were actually there.
And Sen. Mark Dayton of Minnesota was one Democrat who skipped it, calling it a, "staged production" by the Bush administration. Dayton also declined to watch it on TV. He said Allawi shouldn't be in Washington to begin with, but, "ought to be over there [in Iraq] running his country."
Specifically Said "CBS"
Later, in what might have seemed a conciliatory gesture to a network that had wronged him, President Bush went out of his way to call on CBS at his news conference with Allawi.
That gesture, however, was lost on CBS's audience at the time because, unlike NBC, ABC, CNN and Fox News Channel, CBS was not carrying the news conference. Instead, CBS showed Elliot confessing his love to Jill, and Phyllis promising to deal with Alex on "The Young and the Restless."
Rather He Didn't?
And speaking of CBS, Dan Rather is reportedly upset that Dick Thornburgh has been picked to investigate CBS' now-discredited report on President Bush's Guard service. That, the New York Times says, is in part because Thornburgh was President Bush's father's attorney general.
But Thornburgh may not be popular in the White House, either. In the early 1990s he hired Karl Rove, President Bush's top political adviser, to help with a run for the U.S. Senate. But, after losing the race, Thornburgh wouldn't pay Rove nearly $170,000 in bills. So Rove sued Thornburgh personally, and won.
Jayson Blair's Two Cents on Rather
Veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas is now defending Dan Rather, saying he's a, "magnificent reporter." What's more, Thomas, speaking at a forum in New Jersey this week, accused the Bush campaign of turning the whole controversy around, insisting, "the real issue is: why doesn't the president tell us the truth? ... Because he can't, because there are too many gaps."
Meanwhile, disgraced former New York Times reporter Jayson Blair is now weighing in, saying, "it's really sad to see what's happening to Dan Rather. ... [He's] a guy [who] may have been abused by his source and fallen victim to bad staff work."
– FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report