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Hagel called it: Bush chooses legacy over loyalty.

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A few weeks ago Donklephant and DWSUWF scooped the Gonzales resignation story (sort of) when I posted a rare effort at original reporting on a Panetta Institute Lecture – “Hagel: Gonzales to resign / Bush shifting Iraq strategy before year end.”

“The news of the day was Karl Rove’s resignation. Panetta wondered whether the resignation could have an effect rehabilitating the last year of the Bush presidency. Graham was dismissive, saying it is just too late for this President to salvage his legacy. Hagel was more sanguine, saying that Rove and Gonzales are lightning rods for criticism and their resignations would open a door. He spun a scenario where Gonzales also resigns, Bush shifts strategy on Iraq in the fall, and gets a major piece of bi-partisan legislation through congress next year. That, he asserts would elevate the Bush legacy.”

While I nurse my dislocated shoulder after strenuously patting myself on the back, we may want to consider the political ramifications of the rest of the Hagel speculation. In the same venue, practically the same sentence, Hagel said that an administration year end strategy shift beginning a drawdown in Iraq was telegraphed by SECDEF Gates on Meet The Press.

It does seem that Chuck Hagel has his finger on the political pulse of this presidency. The Rove resignation, Gonzales resignation, and the soon to be announced Iraq drawdown are all part of the George W Bush Presidential Legacy Rehabilitation Surge.

Others are reporting along these lines today.

Roger Simon at Politico – “Bush chooses legacy over Gonzales”:

“It’s sad that we live in a time when a talented and honorable person like Alberto Gonzales is impeded from doing important work because his good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons,” Bush said Monday. Which is very loyal. But, in the end, Bush decided that his legacy to history was far more important than his loyalty to Alberto Gonzales.

Conservative gadfly Richard Viguerre also has some legacy advice for GWB:

“With the resignation of Alberto Gonzales, President Bush has an historic opportunity to recover from some of his self-inflicted injuries. He can do this by nominating a principled conservative to be the next Attorney General. Confront the Democrats, don’t ‘reach out’ to them as liberal commentators are urging… Confronting the Democrats and rallying the conservative base is also a way for Bush to raise his approval ratings from the 30s, perhaps even into the 50s. And that would help him and Congressional Republicans on their entire agenda… less than 15 minutes after Gonzales’s resignation speech, MSNBC put Democratic strategist Richard Goodwin on the air to suggest that Bush pick ‘a moderate Republican or even a Democrat… Mr. Bush: That’s not a bad idea if you’re pushing a liberal Democratic agenda. It’s a terrible idea if you want to improve Republican chances for 2008 and retrieve your legacy”

GWB has surprised those who “misunderestimated” him before. Methinks that rumors of the imminent death of this presidency and the Republican party have been greatly exaggerated. If the rest of the Hagel scenario plays out, the low point of the Bush administration popularity is now in the rear view mirror and the “Bush Legacy” will be showing surprising buoyancy by the time of the Democratic convention next summer.