“Thanks for the warm welcome.”
“Thanks for the chance to get out of Washington.”
So said George W. Bush, speaking to a friendly crowd in Norfolk, Virginia.
As the scandal surrounding the indictment of a top White House aide intensified, it is little wonder the US president was happy to have temporarily escaped the capital.
However, although he is sticking doggedly to his schedule, the Lewis Libby affair is following him wherever he goes, putting the spotlight on how his administration sold the nation on the war in Iraq. Jennnifer Palmieri was the deputy press secretary to George W. Bush’s predecessor, Bill Clinton.
“One of the differences, I think, between what is happening with the Bush White House and the Clinton White House is that, with Lewinsky, it was a personal failure of the president and it did not have anything to do with the job that he was doing as the president,” she said.
“The Bush scandal is about manipulating intelligence to get into the war with Iraq and lying to cover it up.
“Fundamentally, that is what it is about and I think that is why it is a much bigger problem for them.”
The case comes as the White House is already reeling over growing opposition to the Iraq war, the slow response to Hurricane Katrina, and the withdrawal of Harriet Miers, the president’s nominee for the US Supreme Court.