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An Extraordinarily Generous and Reasonable Joke

March 24th, 2007

Do I even need to comment on the White House’s “extraordinarily generous offer“? The so-called “reasonable proposal” that Bush is now pushing? In the light of the growing scandal over the Attorney firings, the House is going to issue subpoenas demanding that Karl Rove and Harriet Miers testify before Congress under oath, as so many other White House officials have done in the past.

Bush’s “extraordinarily generous” and “reasonable” counterproposal? That Rove and Miers talk to members of Congress, not under oath, behind closed doors, with no transcript.

Apparently, Bush seems to believe that by continuously repeating the words “reasonable” and “generous,” he can actually make people believe that his offer is something other than the most absurd joke in Washington D.C. in recent memory.

Maybe he still believes that he can get away with the same crap he got away with when Republicans were in charge of Congress, and national security issues were at stake–like he did when he and Cheney were called to testify before the 9/11 commission. Because it was the president and vice-president, because Republicans were ultimately in charge, and because national security issues were in play, they were allowed to water down the questioning so that they could testify together, without cameras or transcript, and avoid going under oath.

This is not the same situation, however.

Now, Democrats are in charge, and won’t roll over and play dead. It’s not the president who’s being asked to testify, it’s a White House counsel and presidential advisor. And the matter at hand has nothing whatsoever to do with national security.

The White House has repeatedly made the claim that anyone who works in the White House can not be forced to testify under oath because then the president won’t be able to receive “candid and confidential advice” from his staff. This sounds good on the surface, but when you think about it, it means that the president wants to receive advice which is potentially illegal. The whole idea of oversight is so that when the president gets advice and acts, he will only do things that will stand up under the light of scrutiny.

To be clear: the only possible reason to demand that Rove and Miers not be put under oath is so they can lie without consequence.

And let’s not forget, Nixon tried this before. The Supreme Court ruled on it. Bush might actually put his foot down and refuse, which is prompting all the talk about a “constitutional crisis.” But there is so much precedence working against Bush that his belovedly stacked Supreme Court might not back him up on this one. However, it probably won’t go that far. So long as Democrats maintain their backbone, they are bound to win on this one. Look at it: Bush will have to force a constitutional crisis and a Supreme Court test over a scandal he’d rather would disappear? So he can make the purely indefensible argument that White House staffers are immune from testifying? He’ll look like he’s hiding something–which, of course, he is. This can only be bad for Bush. He must be doing this in hopes of forcing some sort of compromise that will protect Rove and Miers from being put under oath. If Democrats are smart, they’ll stand their ground.

There’s also more going on: despite the document dumps and large number of emails released, despite the damaging revelations coming from those documents, it’s becoming clear that the White House is holding back, and a number of documents have gone missing. There is an 18-day gap in the email records (the White House calls it a “lull”), and documents which should be there are not.

The gap is especially incriminating because it appears just after an email from Kyle Sampson to Harriet Miers, asking “Who will determine whether this requires the President’s attention?” and continues until just before the firings took place. 18 days in which Bush was undoubtedly advised on the firings and gave his approval. Gee whiz, what a convenient time to have an email “lull.”

The omissions are so obvious that it’s hard to believe how the White House will be able to say that everything was turned over. As I noted before, the dump was preceded by the White House claiming that they needed an extra week to “prepare” the documents–code for “we need more time to review these and delete any that could be really incriminating.

One thing is for certain: White House stonewalling ain’t gonna be enough to stop this scandal from being a problem for Bush.

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  1. Paul
    March 26th, 2007 at 09:51 | #1

    It’s ironic to see the Bush Administration trotting out a bunch of arguments against having to have their officials testify. If you extend their arguments, why should ANY executive branch employee- including pretty much anyone that works for the federal government- be subject to subpoena by the Congress?

    After all, we all report to the President. He’s got to be able to count on us to pass good advice back up the line, right?

    What a crock.

    The only thing that frustrates me the most about this is the lack of a strong Democratic voice in the lead on this. If the Dems were smart enough, they’d designate one or two people (probably a House leader and a Senate leader) and have those two be the face of this scandal on the Dem’s side.

    They could even play good cop-bad cop. One could grab some camera time and throw down a challenge: “Why won’t they let someone testify under oath? The only reason is that they’re afraid of having to tell the truth!” Call them out for being liars right now. Why not? That’s what they are.

    Seattle, WA

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