A HIGHER POWER….Did you know that Bush family fixer James A. Baker III is busily beavering away on a task force to figure out what to do in Iraq? It’s not exactly a secret (the New York Times wrote about it here), but I sure hadn’t heard about it until I read “A Higher Power,” featured in our current issue:

Since March, Baker, backed by a team of experienced national-security hands, has been busily at work trying to devise a fresh set of policies to help the president chart a new course in ? or, perhaps, to get the hell out of ? Iraq. But as with all things involving James Baker, there’s a deeper political agenda at work as well. “Baker is primarily motivated by his desire to avoid a war at home ? that things will fall apart not on the battlefield but at home. So he wants a ceasefire in American politics,” a member of one of the commission’s working groups told me.

Specifically, he said, if the Democrats win back one or both houses of Congress in November, they would unleash a series of investigative hearings on Iraq, the war on terrorism, and civil liberties that could fatally weaken the administration and remove the last props of political support for the war, setting the stage for a potential Republican electoral disaster in 2008. “I guess there are people in the [Republican] party, on the Hill and in the White House, who see a political train wreck coming, and they’ve called in Baker to try to reroute the train.”

I guess if anyone can talk sense into W, maybe it’s Baker. Still, this might be a tougher nut to crack than strongarming a few election monitors in Florida.