March 19, 2007
The Expectation of Denial

Here’s what I’m hoping for.

One source tells CBS News he’s never seen the administration in such deep denial…

When it reaches the point in your administration where the standard method of explaining your actions is to say you’re in denial, it almost doesn’t matter what you do. Or more exactly, what you need to do in order to be taken seriously is to have your actions meet with the approval of two very demanding audiences: a skeptical public, and future events. That’s a trick few have pulled off.

In the immediate future loom votes in both Houses of Congress. House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, a phrase that is doubtless sending shudders through the West Wing on a regular basis these days, has said his panel will vote this week on subpoenas for Karl Rove, Harriet Miers, and others. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, whom you may remember had a friendly exchange with the Vice President on the Senate floor some time back, has scheduled a similar vote this week. On Sunday he said he was not

…particularly open to any compromises, such as a private briefing by the administration officials.

“I want testimony under oath. I am sick and tired of getting half-truths on this,” Leahy said. “I do not believe in this, we’ll have a private briefing for you where we’ll tell you everything, and they don’t.”

Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, the top Republican on the committee, said he had a long talk with Fielding on Friday and was reserving judgment. Specter said he would like to see Rove and Miers’ open testimony because there were numerous precedents for it.

“I want to see exactly what the White House response is,” Specter said. “Maybe the White House will come back and say, ‘We’ll permit them to be interviewed and we’ll give them all the records.’”

That’s apparently why they call him Senator Magic Bullet. Or maybe not. But I do appreciate his pre-emptive strike against the no-precedent talking point.

Anyway, with enemies like Conyers and Leahy, whom the White House has carefully cultivated over the years and said good things about at every opportunity, the Attorney General’s job is probably safe. At least, as safe as that of the President himself. Did you note Tony Snow’s particularly vehement denial?

Asked if President Bush himself might have suggested the firings, Snow said, “Anything’s possible … but I don’t think so.” He said Mr. Bush “certainly has no recollection of any such thing. I can’t speak for the attorney general.”

“I want you to be clear here: Don’t be dropping it at the president’s door,” Snow said.

So the President has no recollection of any such thing. And he never said he was never “stay the course”. Here’s what I mean: these guys are not only in denial, Nixon-level. They’ve got the simple-minded hubris it takes to be involved in an off-the-shelf, stand-alone, self-sustaining enterprise that has appreciably accelerated the demise of the American empire. For that I give them credit, except that they did it for the most despicable of reasons. And you know who collects on the debt of hubris, don’t you? It’s a goddess named Nemesis.

Right now I expect Karl would name Nemesis Patrick, or perhaps John.

I think Alberto is gone. But, as Froomkin has harped on, Gonzales is not the point. He was never more than a flunky. Who drove the policy?

Bud Cummins of Arkansas, one of the fired U.S. attorneys, said Gonzales should step down if it is proved that he was involved in the firings.

“They need to go around the room and say, ‘Who knew about the bases for these decisions as they went along? Who knew that the White House had this much input, was able to inject this much improper political consideration into these decisions?’

“Because each of those people really don’t need to be at the Department of Justice anymore. If he’s one of them, then maybe he does need to resign,” Cummins said.

Not nearly enough, but it’s a good first step.

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Posted by Chuck Dupree at March 19, 2007 02:38 AM
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