MOVING THE ISSUE FORWARD….The usual dodge for anyone in the Bush administration who doesn’t want to talk to the press is to decline comment on a matter that’s “under investigation.” We don’t want to throw sand in the wheels of justice, after all. And since practically everything in the Bush administration is under investigation these days, it’s a pretty handy excuse.

But when NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell asked Bush about the recently reported Ashcroft/Comey/Gonzales debacle (i.e., whether he was the guy who dispatched Gonzales and Andy Card to Ashcroft’s hospital bed to twist his arm into re-approving the NSA’s domestic spying program), he tried a different tack:

I’m not going to talk about it….I’m not going to move the issue forward by talking about something [that’s a] highly classified subject.

Not bad! Talking about it would “move the issue forward,” so there’ll be no talking about it. That’s almost as good as Monica Goodling’s refusal to testify before Congress because she felt it would be a “hostile and questionable environment.” How long before they stop bothering to construct verbal excuses at all anymore?

PREEMPTIVE TROLL REPELLANT: Note that O’Donnell’s question had nothing to do with the nature of the NSA program. It was solely about whether Bush personally ordered Gonzales and Card to visit Ashcroft in the hospital. There’s nothing even colorably classified about that. He just didn’t want to “move the issue forward.”