Hastert Agrees to 9/11 Report Extension

Did I or did I not say this was a day for Good News? And the hits just keep on comin’.

WASHINGTON (CNN) — After intense pressure from lawmakers and family members of victims, House Speaker Dennis Hastert reversed his position Friday and said he would not oppose granting a 60-day extension to the commission investigating the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.In a letter to commission Chairman Tom Kean and Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton, Hastert said the commission could wait until July 26 to hand in its report — 60 days after the original May 27 deadline.

Are you wondering why the switch? I can say it in two words: Karl Rove.

But the White House said it supported the extension. Spokesman Scott McClellan dismissed as “silly” the suggestions by some Democrats that the administration was secretly backing Hastert’s earlier position.A senior administration official said the White House welcomed Hastert’s decision, and added that in the past week Bush spoke with Hastert about supporting the extension. White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card also called Hastert this week to reiterate the administration’s position.

Conversations continued into Friday between top aides to Bush and aides to the speaker. One official familiar with the conversations said that by midday Friday “it was pretty clear” the debate over the extension “was not a winner” for the speaker or the White House.

Karl is adjusting to the reality shown in the polls of the last few weeks. After throwing up every obstacle he could think of to hinder the Commission’s investigation, Junior was about to get egged like an omelet for using Hastert to kill the request. So Karl, a devoted student of both Sun-Tzu and Stonewall Jackson, decided to beat a strategic retreat, figuring the publication of the Report would do less damage overall than the perception that Bush had deliberately stalled it because he was afraid of what it would say.

It must have been a tough call. A lot of what the report could contain (scroll down to “What Really Happened on 9/11?”) is very…unflattering to Bush. If Commission RINO’s (Republicans In Name Only–Rush’s designation for moderates) like Kean and Hamilton decide to write as honest a report as, say, David Kay’s, Bush could be in real trouble right about the time he’s accepting the party’s nomination (either from a stage plunked down at Ground Zero or from the bowels of Dick Cheney’s bunker surrounded by the 8th Army and the 3rd Regiment Field Artillery Band, depending on how things go). Rove must have figured that the RINO’s would be unlikely to risk the Wrath of Kharl by doing something that would embarass the Prez–a pretty safe bet, actually, if not a sure thing.

Still, Karl Rove isn’t famous for backing down, and the fact that he’s had to retreat is a good indication of just how bad he thinks the polls are. And that can only be Good News for us.

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