An ill-tempered Senate stalemate may have bought President George W. Bush two more months for his Iraq troop "surge" but a pivotal and even more testy showdown looms over the war's fate in September.
Democrats failed on Wednesday to overcome blocking maneuvers by Bush's allies, as a thinning line of Republican support held firm against their latest drive to get most US troops home by the end of next April.
With his lies-based Iraq war a failure and his Presidency in tatters, an unbowed George W. Bush is launching a futile effort to broker a Mid-East peace.
Like all his efforts, the attempt is doomed from the start.
Bush's push for a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian peace is seen by both friends and foes as little more than posturing by a President who is grasping at straws to leave some legacy from a failed two terms.
It won't work. It can't work. Everybody except Bush seems to know so.
U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary James Nicholson said on Tuesday he would step down, leaving an agency criticized for the care provided to veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Nicholson, whose resignation is effective no later than October 1, said he wanted to return to the private sector.
"This coming February, I turn 70 years old, and I feel it is time for me to get back into business, while I still can," he said in a prepared statement.
If history is a guide -- and on this constantly recurring controversy it usually is -- the so-called constitutional showdown under way between the White House and Capitol Hill over "executive privilege" will likely end with a convoluted compromise that decides little.
Every administration has at least one set-to with Congress over "executive privilege," which the White House says prevents the Hill from compelling an administration official to testify.
President Bush took his critics to task Saturday for using the poor marks the Iraqi government received on a progress report this week as reason to argue that the war is lost.'
Bush acknowledged the Iraqis received "unsatisfactory" marks on eight benchmarks, including failure to prepare for local elections or to pass a law to share oil revenues among Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. But the president said "satisfactory" grades the Iraqis received in eight other areas — like providing three Iraqi brigades for the military offensive under way and providing $10 billion of their money for reconstruction — were cause for optimism.
"Our strategy is built on the premise that progress on security will pave the way for political progress," Bush said in his weekly radio address. "This report shows that conditions can change, progress can be made, and the fight in Iraq can be won."
President Bush always said he would wait to talk about the CIA leak case until after the investigation into his administration's role. On Thursday, he skipped over that step and pronounced the matter old news hardly worth discussing.
"It's run its course," he said. "Now we're going to move on."
Despite a long history of denouncing leaks, Bush declined to express any disappointment in the people who worked for him and who were involved in disclosing the name of a CIA operative. Asked about that during a wide-ranging news conference, the president gave a dodgy answer.
President Bush ordered former Counsel Harriet Miers to defy a congressional subpoena and refuse to testify about the firings of federal prosecutors, even as a second former aide revealed new details Wednesday about White House involvement in the dismissals.
The possibility of contempt of Congress citations against both women hung over the developments.
President Bush's former political director says she intends to follow his directive and not answer questions about her role in the administration's firing of federal prosecutors — unless a court directs her to defy her former boss.
With his failed Iraq policy crumbling around him, an embattled President George W. Bush Tuesday pleaded for more time from a growing list of Republican dissenters, a skeptical Democratic Congress and a disillusioned American public.
As Bush stubbornly claims his lost war can still be won, more Americans and Iraqis died in an attack inside the heavily-fortified Green Zone and a roadside bomb today destroyed a military Hummer, killing or wounding an undisclosed number of soldiers.
Democrats raised new questions Tuesday about whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales knew about FBI abuses of civil liberties when he told a Senate committee that no such problems occurred.
Lying to Congress is a crime, but it wasn't clear if Gonzales knew about the violations when he made his statements to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
One Democrat called for a special counsel to investigate. President Bush continued to support his longtime friend.
"He still has faith in the attorney general," White House spokesman Scott Stanzel told reporters.