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Sunday Talk Shows: GOPers Critique a Tough Week

For years, the Sunday talk shows have served as a message testing ground for the two parties. Today was no different. With the indictment and subsequent resignation of vice presidential chief of staff Scooter Libby and the prospect of a new Supreme Court nominee to be named as soon as tomorrow, several Republicans staked out some rhetorical territory.

First, Libby's indictment and resignation.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) -- one of the White House's closest allies in Congress -- sought to limit the damage, arguing that "any alleged wrongdoing is defined to a single individual" in an appearance on ABC's "This Week."  Cornyn added: "I hate to see good people tarnished by a broad sweep of the brush."

A Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted in the wake of the Libby indictment showed that the American people are disinclined to see things through the lens Cornyn hopes. Fully 55 percent of those surveyed said the criminal charges brought against Libby are indicative of wider problems "with ethical wrongdoing" at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Forty-one percent said the charges brought against Libby represent an "isolated incident."

Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott (R) was more critical of the White House during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday" with Chris Wallace. Lott said a White House staff shakeup might be in order, suggesting that the error of nominating Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court was born of "not having enough strong people advising the president."  Lott refused to criticize any specific member of the White House staff, however, saying: "You should always be looking for new blood, new energy."

That sentiment was echoed on NBC's "Meet the Press" by Ken Duberstein, former chief of staff to President Ronald Reagan. "It is time to reset and recalibrate," said Duberstein.

As for the Supreme Court opening, Republicans across the board expressed confidence that President Bush would quickly nominate a conservative with a proven track record.

Lott said he expected a "conservative" to be picked "within a very short period of time."

Cornyn said that he expected a conservative with a proven judicial record to be the president's choice given the criticism surrounding Miers.  "People won't take your word for it even if you are the president of the United States," Cornyn said. "You have got to have your own base of support behind any pick."

If a new nominee is named today or Monday, it would mark a remarkable five-day news stretch that began with Miers's withdrawal on Thursday and was followed by the Libby indictment 24 hours later.

By Chris Cillizza  |  October 30, 2005; 1:15 PM ET
Categories:  Republican Party  
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