Robert D. Novak

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Many people have asked me how I first realized I was suffering from a brain tumor and what I have done about it.

The first sign that I was in trouble came July 23, when my 2004 black Corvette struck a pedestrian on 18th Street while I was on my way to my office downtown.

I did not realize I had hit anyone until a young man on a bicycle, who I thought was a bicycle messenger, jumped in front of my car to block the way. In fact, he was David A. Bono, a partner in the high-end law firm Harkins Cunningham.…  Seguir leyendo »

Yousaf Raza Gillani, prime minister of Pakistan, will lunch with George W. Bush in the White House on July 28. That will not be merely another of the president's routine meetings with foreign leaders. As Pakistan's democratically elected government and U.S. diplomats understand, the lunch symbolizes a turn away from Washington's attachment to military rule under the discredited Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

Bush could be the last to appreciate the symbolism. On May 30, he stunned Pakistani political circles with a personal telephone call to Musharraf advocating "a continuing role" for him as president of Pakistan. Musharraf, whose 9 percent approval rating ranks even below Bush's, had been elected president by a lame-duck Parliament just before its members were defeated in elections Feb.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the aftermath of the U.S. visit by Pope Benedict XVI, traditional Catholics are asking a troublesome question: Did pro-choice politicians receiving Communion at the papal Masses indicate the pope had softened on the abortion question? The answer is no. On the contrary, it reflected disobedience to Benedict by the archbishops of New York and Washington.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sens. John Kerry, Christopher Dodd and Edward M. Kennedy received Communion at Nationals Park in Washington, as did former mayor Rudolph Giuliani at Yankee Stadium in New York. Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington and Cardinal Edward Egan, archbishop of New York, invited them.…  Seguir leyendo »

Overwhelming repudiation of President Pervez Musharraf by Pakistan's voters did not immediately dilute the Bush administration's support for him. On the contrary, the first election returns were barely in Monday night when the U.S. government began pressing victorious opposition leaders not to impeach the former military strongman.

Publicly, State Department spokesman Tom Casey said that Musharraf "is still the president of Pakistan" and expressed hope that "whoever winds up in charge of the new government would be able to work with him."

Privately, U.S. diplomats pushed hard against any effort to dislodge the retired army general who had just suffered a public rejection, unprecedented in Pakistan's 60 years, from the office he retained last year through nefarious means.…  Seguir leyendo »

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto followed two months of urgent pleas to the State Department by her representatives for better protection. The U.S. reaction was that she was worried over nothing, expressing assurance that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf would not let anything happen to her.

That attitude led a Bhutto agent to inform a high-ranking State Department official that her camp no longer viewed the backstage U.S. effort to broker a power-sharing agreement between Musharraf and the former prime minister as a good-faith effort toward democracy. It was, according to the written complaint, an attempt to preserve the politically endangered Musharraf as George W.…  Seguir leyendo »

Diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad could hardly believe what President Bush said to anchor Charles Gibson on ABC's "World News" on Nov. 20. He described Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, as "somebody who believes in democracy" and declared: "I understand how important he is in fighting extremists and radicals." Was the president of the United States issuing Musharraf a free pass to rig next month's elections in Pakistan?

That was not Bush's intention. But his lavishing such praise on the general who had ruled Pakistan through military force led to assumptions that the United States would blink at election-rigging. Plotters in Islamabad seeking to undermine Benazir Bhutto's effort to become prime minister a third time can claim that U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

Benazir Bhutto, back in Pakistan following eight years in exile, had plans to tour the country seeking voter support. But she is holed up in Karachi after the near-miss attempt on her life. The government has declined to provide the former prime minister minimal security against renewed assassination attempts. That points up the difficulty of a shadowy new partnership between Bhutto and Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who was reelected president by Pakistan's electoral college on Oct. 6.

Arbab Rahim, chief minister of Sindh province, which includes Karachi, has refused Bhutto special police protection, cars with tinted windows and bomb-jamming equipment. For weeks before her return, Bhutto was denied jammers against improvised explosive devices and additional armor on her vehicles.…  Seguir leyendo »

A month after voters last year gave Democrats the control that would elevate Nancy Pelosi to speaker of the House, Pelosi received a letter from a trial lawyer in Santa Ana, Calif., named Daniel J. Callahan. "We look forward," he wrote, "to the New Direction of America, and to your dedication to putting an end to the fleecing of the American taxpayers and death to its citizens in the name of war profiteers such as Blackwater." That plea was answered last week with House hearings.

Callahan did not disguise his political orientation, requesting a full-scale investigation of an "extremely Republican" company: Blackwater Security Consulting, which provides security guards in Iraq.…  Seguir leyendo »

The forced resignation two weeks ago, under pressure from President Álvaro Uribe, of three prominent officers accused of drug trafficking is not likely to end the shakeup in Colombia's army and navy. More heads will roll in a long-overdue purge of corruption in the military. The credit has to go to the left-wing members of Congress who have taken over the Colombian account on Capitol Hill since the Democratic victory in the 2006 elections.

A conservative American with close, longtime ties to Colombia put it to me bluntly: "The firing of these officers is seen as President Uribe's way of clearing the decks to make the Democrats in Congress happy, in order to secure the free-trade agreement.…  Seguir leyendo »

Benazir Bhutto arrived in New York three weeks ago, shortly after meeting secretly in Abu Dhabi with Gen. Pervez Musharraf. She leaves this week without having heard again from Pakistan's military ruler. More than merely deciding who rules Pakistan, global conflict against radical Islam may be at risk.

The Bush administration is the silent matchmaker for an unlikely political marriage of bitter opponents: Pakistan's president, Musharraf, and former prime minister Bhutto. The unstated U.S. goal is a democratic Pakistan, with the unpopular Musharraf retaining his presidency and the popular Bhutto returned to the prime minister's office, from which she was twice ousted by the military.…  Seguir leyendo »

Before the recent global financial crisis began, the Federal Reserve Board under Chairman Ben S. Bernanke was ready to take a subtle step toward easier money in order to stave off U.S. recession fears. Ready for approval was a new Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) statement ending the central bank's neutrality and putting it on a bias for an interest rate cut. But international credit scares changed all that.

The Fed and other central banks moved quickly and in unison last Friday to pump more cash into financial systems, successfully stabilizing markets made jittery by collapsing hedge funds around the world.…  Seguir leyendo »

The morass in Iraq and deepening difficulties in Afghanistan have not deterred the Bush administration from taking on a dangerous and questionable new secret operation. High-level U.S. officials are working with their Turkish counterparts on a joint military operation to suppress Kurdish guerrillas and capture their leaders. Through covert activity, their goal is to forestall Turkey from invading Iraq.

While detailed operational plans are necessarily concealed, the broad outlines have been presented to select members of Congress as required by law. U.S. Special Forces are to work with the Turkish army to suppress the Kurds' guerrilla campaign. The Bush administration is trying to prevent another front from opening in Iraq, which would have disastrous consequences.…  Seguir leyendo »

On May 31, President Bush met for 35 minutes in the private living quarters of the White House with Cardinal Joseph Zen, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Hong Kong, in an event that was not announced and did not appear on his official schedule. Their meeting did not please the State Department, elements of the Catholic hierarchy and certainly not the Chinese government. But it signifies what George W. Bush is really about.

In Hong Kong, Zen enjoys more freedom to speak out than do his fellow bishops in China proper, and he has become known as the spiritual voice of China's beleaguered democracy movement.…  Seguir leyendo »

Colombia's president, Álvaro Uribe, returned to Bogota this week in a state of shock. His three-day visit to Capitol Hill to win over Democrats in Congress was described by one American supporter as "catastrophic." Colombian sources said Uribe was stunned by the ferocity of his Democratic opponents, and Vice President Francisco Santos publicly talked about cutting U.S.-Colombian ties.

Uribe got nothing from his meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders. Military aid remains stalled, overall assistance is reduced, and the vital U.S.-Colombian trade bill looks dead. Uribe is the first Colombian president to crack down on his country's corrupt army officer hierarchy and to assault both right-wing paramilitaries and left-wing guerrillas, but last week he confronted Democrats wedded to outdated claims of civil rights abuses and rigidly protectionist dogma.…  Seguir leyendo »