Bush stonewalls, then blames Democrats
President Bush last month complained that the congressional probes into the firings of nine U.S. attorneys were being "drug out . . . for political reasons." White House spokesman Tony Snow yesterday dismissed the issuance of congressional subpoenas to two former White House aides as an attempt to "create some media drama."
But if anyone is to blame for the dragging out of the probes and the drama, it's Bush himself. He and his aides have consistently refused to tell the American people why those federal prosecutors were fired....
If Bush wants this media drama to go away -- and if there is, in fact, an innocent explanation for the firings -- then it's in his best interest to come clean, in public, and sooner rather than later. Why wait for a congressional hearing?
The stonewalling looks like it will have another effect, too -- provoking a constitutional confrontation between the White House and Congress over Congress' ability to subpoena senior aides. This isn't a purely partisan faceoff -- Republican Arlen Specter, for instance, supports yesterday's subpoenas of Harriet Miers and Sara Taylor. If neither side backs down, the validity of those subpoenas could be decided in court.
Meanwhile, Slate is retiring its Gonzometer, conceding Alberto Gonzales' remarkable staying power despite revelations such as these:
Not much good is happening inside the Justice Department, either. Monday's Washington Post revealed that, thanks to Gonzales and Co., a shocking number of the nation's newest immigration judges are a bunch of GOP hacks. Yesterday, Bradley Schlozman, the former U.S. attorney for Kansas City who brought voter-fraud indictments against a liberal group just four days before the November 2006 election, in violation of department policy, wrote to Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., to "clarify" that when he testified 10 times last week that he had been "directed" to bring such indictments by the Election Crimes Branch of the DoJ's Public Integrity Section, he really meant that in fact he had never been directed to do so at all.
The immigration judge story is yet another example of the extent to which the Bush administration has politicized the functioning of the executive branch, in defiance of both tradition and (in some cases) the law.
The Schlozman embarrassment is also just another in a long line of instances where Justice officials (led by Gonzales) said one thing under oath, only to say the opposite later on.
And that doesn't even count the internal Justice Department probe into whether Gonzales tried to influence Monica Goodling's testimony about the prosecutor firings.
The prize for Gonzales' and Bush's steadfastness: continued embarassing revelations, destruction of Bush's political relevance and a dysfunctional Justice Department. Yay team!!
Gonzales, politics, midtopia