President Bush is visiting Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico this week, carrying with him a complicated economic and trade agenda. But after keeping Latin American issues on the backburner for six years, can he effectively compete with rising radical leaders like Hugo Chavez? Plus, House Democrats unveil their plan for a withdrawal from Iraq. On Reporter's Notebook, will President Bush grant Lewis Libby a pardon? Marc Cooper guest hosts.
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House Democrats today unveiled two plans that would put direct, binding pressure on the White House to withdraw US troops from Iraq by the end of this year or, at the latest, by August, 2008. Speaker Nancy Pelosi presented her proposal at a Capitol Hill press conference, one that comes after weeks of internal Democratic wrangling. Meantime, a caucus of progressive Democrats put forth their own amendment which would move the troops out even faster. John Donnelly covers defense and foreign policy for Congressional Quarterly.
John Donnelly, Reporter for Congressional Quarterly
When George Bush came into office six years ago he vowed the Southern Hemisphere would be his top foreign policy priority--but that was before September 11 and Iraq. Now, midway through his second term, the President has begun a week-long visit to the region, to try to woo back Latin America and boost American influence. One of the few concrete agreements that might come out of the trip is a deal with Brazil about ethanol production. However, Bush is up against some stiff political competition from radical leaders like Venezuela's Hugo Chávez, who argues the US has nothing good to offer its southern neighbors. Can the President overcome his widespread hemispheric unpopularity? Can he offset the growing influence of regional leftists like Chávez? Guest host Marc Cooper speaks with journalists and experts in energy, foreign policy and national security.
Patrick McDonnell, Los Angeles Times (@mcdneville)
Michael Shifter, Inter-American Dialogue
Adam Isacson, Washington Office on Latin America (@adam_wola)
Jeremy Martin, Director of the Energy Program at the Institute of the Americas
While President Bush says he will respect the conviction of Lewis "Scooter" Libby on four felony counts of perjury and obstructing justice earlier this week, conservative allies already have begin a campaign to secure him a presidential pardon. Vice President Cheney's former chief-of-staff has been one of the most trusted members of the White House inner circle. But it might not be so easy for Bush to grant such a pardon, says Newsweek investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff.