Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Attorney Purge Fallout

Watching Bush's angry little tirade against "the Democrats" yesterday was interesting.
  • He kept insisting that all "the Democrats" needed to know was in the 3,000 emails released by the justice department if only they'd bother to read them. It was a brilliant WH idea, in my opinion, to dump the docs and run. Surely by the time anyone got through them the story would be all but dead, right? Except Josh Marshall at TPM rounded up an army of unpaid readers to slog through every last one of them and found -- coincidentally! -- an 18 day gap in the data. A pretty crucial gap, too, given the event timeline. Perhaps not so coincidentally after all...
  • It's difficult to try to weigh the benefit of accountability against the benefit of advisor confidentiality. Bush argues that he can't have his trusted advisers subpoenaed for every trivial little question anyone might have. On the other hand, governmental accountability is only ensured by proper oversight. This administration has gotten a free pass on oversight for six years so I'm thinking I'd be willing to focus a little more on accountability right now. The Chicago Trib offers this amusing little nugget from Tony Snow oh so many years ago as he wrestled with the same dilemma and came to the same conclusion (h/t Kos):

"Evidently, Mr. Clinton wants to shield virtually any communications that take place within the White House compound on the theory that all such talk contributes in some way, shape or form to the continuing success and harmony of an administration. Taken to its logical extreme, that position would make it impossible for citizens to hold a chief executive accountable for anything. He would have a constitutional right to cover up.

"Chances are that the courts will hurl such a claim out, but it will take time.

"One gets the impression that Team Clinton values its survival more than most people want justice and thus will delay without qualm. But as the clock ticks, the public's faith in Mr. Clinton will ebb away for a simple reason: Most of us want no part of a president who is cynical enough to use the majesty of his office to evade the one thing he is sworn to uphold the rule of law.''

Snow insists, as of this morning, that the current situation is different (I assume that's because it's not about super duper important stuff like blow jobs).

  • I've written before that the aspect of this mess that least upsets me is the replacement of the attorneys, in general, since they're political appointees. What I overlooked is that they're political appointees in the same sense that the SCOTUS justices are... which is to say they're political appointees who are supposed to be behave apolitically once they're in office. A great deal has been said now on the possible attempt by Rove to use the U.S. Attorneys as a political tool to give Republicans an edge in 2008. Sadly, I didn't even suspect that particular abuse of power. My bad. One of the fired U.S. Attorneys speaks out in the NYT today, adding to my current feelings of stupidity.

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