Browsing the blog archives for March, 2007.


Bush Inner Circle Defection

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Bush Administration

This’ll stir things up — Matthew Dowd, a close associate of George Bush, has publicly broken ranks with the President. Jim Rutenberg writes for the New York Times (April 1):

In 1999, Matthew Dowd became a symbol of George W. Bush’s early success at positioning himself as a Republican with Democratic appeal. …

… Looking back, Mr. Dowd now says his faith in Mr. Bush was misplaced.

In a wide-ranging interview here, Mr. Dowd called for a withdrawal from Iraq and expressed his disappointment in Mr. Bush’s leadership.

Rutenberg calls Dowd “the first member of Mr. Bush’s inner circle to break so publicly with him.”

This is interesting:

Mr. Dowd, a crucial part of a team that cast Senator John Kerry as a flip-flopper who could not be trusted with national security during wartime, said he had even written but never submitted an op-ed article titled “Kerry Was Right,” arguing that Mr. Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat and 2004 presidential candidate, was correct in calling last year for a withdrawal from Iraq….

… In television interviews in 2004, Mr. Dowd said that Mr. Kerry’s campaign was proposing “a weak defense,” and that the voters “trust this president more than they trust Senator Kerry on Iraq.”

But he was starting to have his own doubts by then, he said.

Dowd’s son deployed to Iraq in 2004, which seems to have had an impact.

Mr. Dowd said he had become so disillusioned with the war that he had considered joining street demonstrations against it, but that his continued personal affection for the president had kept him from joining protests whose anti-Bush fervor is so central.

The article hints at issues Dowd might have with Karl Rove, as well.

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Religion News

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Religion

Today Little Lulu is in a self-righeousness snit — actually a combined self-righteousness and victimization snit — because of a six-foot naked chocolate Jesus on display in a midtown Manhattan gallery. The anatomically correct sculpture portrays Jesus in a crucifixion pose and is made of 200 pounds of milk chocolate.

Little Lulu complains
because the evil “MSM” is covering — well, not covering, actually — the naked chocolate Jesus: “No pixelation. No withholding the photos in the name of respect for Christianity. No taboos.”

And she brings up the infamous Danish Mohammad cartoons — the MSM wouldn’t publish racist cartoons out of respect for Islam, but they will publish photographs of a naked chocolate Jesus. No fair.

I don’t know what the sculpture’s intentions were, but seems to me a six-foot naked chocolate Jesus amounts to a powerful statement on the commercialization of Easter. If there had been some chocolate Easter bunnies at Jesus’ feet, so much the better. That a suffering, exposed and vulnerable Jesus should be taboo while Disneyfied pagan fertility symbols are OK is just one more example of What’s Wrong With America, seems to me. But alas, because of whining from people like our good buddy Bill “I hate everybody” Donohue, the sculpture is no longer on display.

The Carpetbagger reports:

And guess who was behind all of this? The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue, who called the chocolate display was “one of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever.” (Really, Bill? Ever? In two millennia, this is among the very worst?)

David Kuo
, formerly of Bush’s faith-based office, had a different, and less unhinged, perspective, concluding that the six-foot, milk-chocolate sculpture might be “the perfect piece of art for holy week.”

    Jesus’ story isn’t nice, it isn’t neat, it isn’t comfortable. It is the opposite of all of those things. In so many ways those of us who say we follow Jesus actually want a sort of “chocolate Jesus” of our own – one that is sweet, one that demands little from us, one that we can mold into our forms – perhaps politically conservative, perhaps liberal, maybe happy with just a few of our dollars given to the poor every now and again, perhaps content with those who simply say they love him and then lead lives little different from anyone else.

    It is easy for some religious leaders to decry a piece of art and say – as some have (apparently with a straight face) – it is “one of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever.” (I suppose that genocide in Darfur is merely an “affront” to Christian sensibilities?) But instead of getting all amped up over this “art,” Christians should be spending time facing the real and very challenging Jesus found in the Gospels and encouraging others to do the same. I know that is what I need to do.

Bill Donohue, I think he’s talking to you.

The gallery should put a six-foot tall cutesy-poo chocolate Easter bunny where the Jesus was, with a sign saying “How wingnuts view the passion of Christ.”

It seems the nudity bothered the wingnuts more than the chocolate, even though the Bible seems to say Jesus was naked at his crucifixion — “And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots” (Matthew 27:35, King James version).

This can’t be the first time in two millennia that Jesus has been betrayed nude. There’s a nearly naked Jesus on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, for example. The bit of gauze might have been one of the modesty drapes painted over Michelangelo’s masterpiece by Daniele de Volterra at the request of Pope Paul III. (People had complained about all the weenies flapping around on the ceiling.)

In other religion news —

Barack Obama is a member of the United Church of Christ, a mainstream Protestant denomination. The particular church he attends has an African American congregation. Some elements on the Right have spun this into a claim that Obama is part of a black separatist cult. (And these are the same people who claim to be the champions and protectors of religion.) Pastor Dan at Street Prophets writes to Sean Hannity about this little misunderstanding.

Update: Via Clif at American Street — the chocolate Jesus was removed from the gallery because of fears of violent retaliation from Christians:

The hotel and the gallery were overrun Thursday with angry phone calls and e-mails about the exhibit. Semler said the calls included death threats over the work of artist Cosimo Cavallaro, who was described as disappointed by the decision to cancel the display.

“In this situation, the hotel couldn’t continue to be supportive because of a fear for their own safety,” Semler said.

Shades of Idomeneo. Michelle was upset because the Berlin Opera canceled a production of the opera because of a scene showing Mohammad’s severed head. The Berlin Opera was afraid of retaliation from Muslims, and Michelle said,

I have far more of a beef with the Muslim censors leading the Religion of Perpetual Outrage than I do with a goofy German art director messing around with Mozart.

Et tu, Michelle?

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Next Steps

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Budget, Bush Administration, Congress, Iraq War

Now that the House and the Senate have passed emergency appropriations bills to fund the war in Iraq, the next step is for members of the House and Senate to come up with a compromise bill. It is hoped a compromise bill can be agreed upon and passed during the week of April 16. Then it goes to President Bush, who has sworn loudly and stridently that he will veto it.

Let’s assume the compromise bill goes to Bush in April, and he vetoes it. There aren’t enough Dems to override the veto. I’ve heard suggestions that Congress should then pass whatever bill Bush wants, which sends a signal that this is Bush’s War. He and the Republicans own it, and whatever happens is entirely their doing. However, this also might send the signal that the Dems are caving in once again, mightn’t it?

Others want to keep sending Bush bills with conditions, perhaps passing monthlong spending bills (Rep. Murtha’s suggestion) in the meantime so Bush can’t say Congress isn’t funding the troops. Well, he’ll say it anyway, but who’s listening to the little creep at this point?

The talking point du jour from the Right seems to be that “pork” in the supplement bill somehow harms the troops. Exactly why the domestic spending items in the bill takes anything away from the troops is not clear, since both House and Senate bills provide every penny Bush asked for to fund his war. The House bill provides more money than Bush asked for, actually. The Republicans appear to claiming that the domestic items are monies taken away from the Pentagon’s request, but that’s not so.

Yes, pork is pork. An op ed in today’s New York Times by Thomas Schatz, “Pork Goes to War,” provides a chart listing the porcine items in the House and Senate supplement bills. He notes that emergency supplement bills are called “Christmas trees” because, as they are exempt from budget rules, they tend to get decorated with “ornaments.”

(Schatz, btw, is the President of Citizens Against Government Waste, a nonprofit that appears to be a corporate front group. CAGW has campaigned on behalf of the tobacco industry and in favor of Microsoft and against open source software, for example.)

On the other hand, some senators yesterday tried to make the point that a congressional emergency supplement bill can rightfully contain funds for anything that Congress thinks is an emergency. One cannot tell from Mr. Schatz’s chart if the items are true emergencies or not. Yes, $20 million in the Senate bill for “Mormon cricket eradication” does sound suspicious, but Nevada may be suffering a deadly plague of Mormon crickets, for all I know.

Schatz’s chart does clear up the Great Spinach Mystery. Yesterday a Republican senator insisted on taking the time for a roll call vote on stripping all mention of spinach out of the Senate Bill. Sen. Patty Murray explained, somewhat tensely, that there was no spinach in the bill, so such a vote wouldn’t change anything. Sen. Harry Reid asked if they could skip the roll call if the Dems all promised to vote for the amendment. The Republican wouldn’t budge, and a roll call was taken to make the world safe from spinach. I see now that the House bill contains $25 million for spinach growers in California. (I suspect that has something to do with the e coli bacteria found in some packaged spinach last September. )

Back to what to do about the veto — I’d consider sending Bush the bill he wants with a great big warning that Congress will accept no more emergency appropriations requests for Iraq. If you want money for Iraq, Mr. President, from now on you have to go through regular appropriations procedures. After four years the dadblamed war ain’t an “emergency.”

Linda Bilmes explained in Nieman Watchdog
last September:

The money already spent, in cash terms, is more than $400 billion. This has been approved through a series of “emergency supplemental” requests by the Administration. This is a technical but really important point: Normally, the Defense Department requests money through the traditional channels, which means that it gets vetted and analyzed by the Office of Management and Budget and the congressional committees. But for Iraq, there has been what I call an “accounting conspiracy” — all the money has been requested through 13 emergency supplemental requests which receive minimal scrutiny. This has resulted in a lot of fraud, corruption, overpayments to contractors like Halliburton, etc.

The legal purpose of the emergency supplemental is supposed to be an actual unexpected emergency, like Hurricane Katrina. By contrast, the administration has known for the past 3 years about its approximate financial needs for Iraq. It just chooses to fund the war this way so it does not need to request – nor does Congress need to vote – on the huge sums involved. Instead, Congress can vote on bite-sized chunks that don’t attract much attention.

I think it’s way past time for Congress to make a big bleeping deal out of the “emergency” appropriation funding. Bush wants to talk pork? Let’s talk about Bush’s piss-poor money management. He fancies himself the “CEO President”; a real CEO who played budget games like that would face some pretty wrathful shareholders, not to mention the SEC if Bush were using accounting tricks to cover it up.

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Rudy News

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Republican Party, September 11

The hot news item this morning is that Rudy Giuliani was told back in 2000 that Bernie Kerik was suspected of having ties to organized crime. Giuliani made Kerik New York Police Commissioner anyway.

Last year Giuliani testified under oath to a grand jury that he remembered receiving no such information.

(Republicans never remember anything unless they think Bill Clinton did it. Then they can dredge up details of 15-year-old rumors and accusations with remarkable clarity.)

You might remember that recently Kerik rejected a federal plea deal that would have required prison time. Bernie is suspected of mortgage fraud, tax fraud, conspiracy to eavesdrop and making false statements on his application to become U.S. Homeland Security Secretary.

In other Rudy news, NYC firefighters are renewing their attacks on Giuliani for his performance before and after the September 11 attacks. Much of what’s in this article I’ve written about before, here and here. But if you haven’t heard about the firefighter’s grievances, read the article linked.

He also told Barbara Walters that if he were president his wife might sit in on cabinet meetings. I remember when Rosalynn Carter and Hillary Clinton took visible policy roles in the White House the Right pitched a fit.

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Listen Up, Bush

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Bush Administration

REID TO BUSH:

“Listen to the American people for a change.”

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Gonzo?

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Bush Administration, Congress, U.S. Attorneys

The big news coming out of the Senate Judiciary grilling of Kyle Sampson — which began this morning and is still going on at 4:40 EST — is that Sampson’s testimony, um, differs from earlier statements of Alberto Gonzales. Gonzales claimed not to have been involved in meetings about the attorney general firing. Editor & Publisher has details.

I haven’t been home to watch the entire hearing. From what I did see and hear, I am struck by the apparent casualness with which Sampson and other staffers considered the firing of U.S. attorneys. Sampson’s testimony makes it seem that the original idea to fire U.S. attorneys was made, in 2005, for no particular reason except that they could. Sampson, who was more or less in charge of the Purge Project, didn’t bother to keep a file (so he says) to document who made decisions and why. It seems most of the written record of this episode was in emails drizzled about on White House and RNC servers. No files, no system, says Sen. Schumer; It seems ad hoc, it seems records weren’t kept.

I bet this poor kid keeps records in the future, assuming he ever gets a job again.

Paul Kiel has a blow-by-blow live blog of the hearing, here.

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Senate Bill Passed

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Bush Administration

The Senate just passed the “emergency” supplement bill, 51-47. Details to follow.

Update: The Associated Press reports,

Forty-eight Democrats and independent Bernard Sanders of Vermont were joined by two Republicans, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Gordon Smith of Oregon, in voting for the measure. Opposed were 46 Republicans and Connecticut independent Joseph Lieberman.

Sens. Mike Enzi, R-Wy., and Tim Johnson, D-S.D., did not vote.

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Loose Lips

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Bush Administration, Congress, U.S. Attorneys

D. Kyle Sampson is scheduled to testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee today. The Senate might also vote on the Iraq War “emergency” appropriations bill. If there are any significant developments I will post about them as quickly as I can.

First — Sampson and the U.S. Attorney scandal. Dan Eggen and Paul Kane write in today’s Washington Post:

The attorney general’s former chief of staff plans to testify today that other Justice Department officials knew about the “origins and timing” of the effort to fire eight U.S. attorneys, which began two years earlier in the White House, according to prepared testimony for a Congressional hearing.

But D. Kyle Sampson — who resigned earlier this month ahead of revelations that White House political officials helped direct the dismissals — also will tell the Senate Judiciary Committee that he “never sought to conceal or withhold material fact about this matter” while helping prepare witnesses for Congress. Lawmakers are seeking to determine whether top Justice Department officials misled them while testifying on the matter in recent months. …

… Sampson’s prepared remarks offer few clues about the role of Gonzales, who has sought to distance himself from his former chief of staff. Gonzales is under increasing pressure from lawmakers to step down for mishandling the firings and their aftermath.

The statement indicates that Sampson will emphasize the involvement of numerous other Justice officials in the dismissals — including Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty — while distancing Gonzales from the nitty-gritty details. Sampson’s statement also says that he “let the attorney general and the department down” by failing to better manage the political response to the firings, which he describes as an “ugly, undignified spectacle,” according to the statement.

Kevin Drum asks:

Gonzales has already told us he knew nothing about the two-year process to fire a bunch of U.S. Attorneys, and in this meeting he knew nothing about any of the specific grievances the USAs brought up. Sounds like a real hands-on kind of guy. What exactly does he think the job of Attorney General is all about?

It appears to me that Gonzales is still primarily George Bush’s attorney more than he is an attorney general. Instead of actually running the Justice Department, he has seemed more focused on enabling President Bush to do whatever he wants, which is the job he’s been doing for many years.

Stuart Taylor writes at Atlantic Monthly:

Gonzales was plucked by then-Gov. Bush of Texas from a big law firm where he was a relatively undistinguished partner. As the governor’s counsel, he sent Bush superficial memos that cleared the way for executions of more than 50 death-row inmates by dismissing their clemency petitions, while sometimes ignoring evidence of ineffective counsel, mitigating circumstances, and even possible innocence. His 20-some judicial opinions as a Bush appointee on the Texas Supreme Court were unimpressive, as have been his public performances as White House counsel and attorney general. People outside the administration who have tried to engage him in serious discourse about complex issues sometimes come away shocked by the superficiality of his knowledge and the shallowness of his analysis.

As White House counsel from 2001 through 2004, Gonzales had his fingerprints on Bush’s most grandiose and insupportable claims of power in the war on terrorism. These included Bush’s claim of virtually unlimited power to imprison for years, incommunicado, without real judicial review, anyone in the world whom he labeled an “enemy combatant.”

Gonzales also implicitly approved the infamous August 1, 2002, Justice Department legal opinion asserting that Bush had the authority to abrogate federal criminal laws and treaty obligations and to order (if he chose) wholesale use of torture in wartime interrogations.

David Kirkpatrick and Jim Rutenberg write in today’s New York Times that Gonzales was, perhaps, not as disengaged from the U.S. Attorney firings as Sampson might claim. And, of course, Karl Rove played a critical role also.

Almost every Wednesday afternoon, advisers to President Bush gather to strategize about putting his stamp on the federal courts and the United States attorneys’ offices.

The group meets in the Roosevelt Room and includes aides to the White House counsel, the chief of staff, the attorney general and Karl Rove, who also sometimes attends himself. Each of them signs off on every nomination.

Mr. Rove, a top adviser to the president, takes charge of the politics. As caretaker to the administration’s conservative allies, Mr. Rove relays their concerns, according to several participants in the Wednesday meetings. And especially for appointments of United States attorneys, he manages the horse trading.

“What Karl would say is, ‘Look, if this senator who has been working with the president on the following things really wants this person and we think they are acceptable, why don’t we give the senator what he wants?’ ” said one former administration official. “ ‘You know, we stiffed him on that bill back there.’ ” [emphasis added]

Further into the Kirkpatrick & Rutenberg article we find:

In New Jersey, Mr. Rove helped arrange the nomination of a major Bush campaign fund-raiser who had little prosecutorial experience.

That would be Christopher J. Christie.

Mr. Christie has brought public corruption charges against prominent members of both parties, but his most notable investigations have stung two Democrats, former Gov. James E. McGreevey and Senator Robert Menendez. When word of the latter inquiry leaked to the press during the 2006 campaign, Mr. Menendez sought to dismiss it by tying Mr. Christie to Mr. Rove, calling the investigation “straight out of the Bush-Rove playbook.” (Mr. McGreevey resigned after admitting to having an affair with a male aide and the Menendez investigation has not been resolved.)

Yesterday’s “document dump” of emails included one from Kyle Sampson with “RE: Draft response to Reid/Durbin/Schumer/Murray letter re Cummins-Griffin” in the subject line. Sampson had prepared a statement to the Senators claiming that Karl Rove was not involved in the appointment of Rove’s aide Tim Griffin to replace U.S. Attorney “Bud” Cummins. We now have copious evidence that Rove was very much involved. The Office of the White House Counsel signed off on Sampson’s “testimony.” Paul Kiel at TPM Muckraker has more to say about this here and here.

Righties generally remain stuck on stupid — they’re still arguing that Presidents can hire and fire U.S. attorneys whenever they like, for any reason, so what’s the big deal? [Update: See Josh Marshall on this point.] Stuart Taylor at the Atlantic (link above) responds to this:

As for the U.S. attorneys, there is a world of difference between firing such a political appointee for 1) being a Democrat; 2) failing to press the president’s law enforcement agenda; 3) overstaying his or her welcome in a job that the White House wants for a political favorite; 4) prosecuting Republican lawmakers; or 5) failing to bring election-fraud prosecutions against Democrats on a timetable designed to help Republicans at the polls.

The first three are standard operating procedure. The last two—if they happened—would be unethical and arguably illegal. A minimally competent attorney general would instantly appreciate the difference. Did Gonzales? Perhaps. But the succession of misleading and contradictory statements from him and his aides—which may further weaken the presidency by fueling congressional demands for testimony by White House officials—inspire no confidence. Nor do Gonzales’s comments (as reported by Newsweek) to three senators who visited his office to discuss the matter: “Why do I have to prove anything to you?” And “everyone [fired] was in the bottom tier.” In fact, some had glowing performance evaluations.


Glenn Greenwald adds
:

Much of the U.S. attorneys scandal has focused, as it should, on the question of whether the firings were motivated by various prosecutors’ refusal to pursue partisan-motivated but frivolous cases (or to suppress valid investigations for partisan reasons). But it is true that every administration has the right to prioritize the types of prosecutions which U.S. attorneys ought to pursue. And the DOJ e-mails that have been released reveal much about the unbelievably misplaced investigative priorities of the Bush administration.

In a time when we are supposedly facing the gravest and most epic War Ever to Save our Very Civilization, they are demanding that scarce law enforcement resources be squandered on the pettiest though still quite invasive and liberty-infringing matters. In Reason, Radley Balko has a great review of some of these issues.

The Radley Balko article cited by Glenn is a solid indictment of DoJ mismanagement under the Bush Administration, bringing up several critical issues (such as wiretapping) other than the U.S. Attorneys. See also “Prosecutors Assail Gonzales During Meeting” and “The Myth of Voter Fraud.”

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Follow the Emails

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Bush Administration

Sidney Blumenthal identifies what might be the Bush Administration’s achilles heel — White House business conducted with commercial and Republican Party email accounts.

Last week the National Journal disclosed that Karl Rove does “about 95 percent” of his e-mails outside the White House system, instead using a Republican National Committee account. What’s more, Rove doesn’t tap most of his messages on a White House computer, but rather on a BlackBerry provided by the RNC. By this method, Rove and other White House aides evade the legally required archiving of official e-mails. The first glimmer of this dodge appeared in a small item buried in a January 2004 issue of U.S. News & World Report: “‘I don’t want my E-mail made public,’ said one insider. As a result, many aides have shifted to Internet E-mail instead of the White House system. ‘It’s Yahoo!, baby,’ says a Bushie.”

The offshoring of White House records via RNC e-mails became apparent when an RNC domain, gwb43.com (referring to George W. Bush, 43rd president), turned up in a batch of e-mails the White House gave to House and Senate committees earlier this month. Rove’s deputy, Scott Jennings, former Bush legal counsel Harriet Miers and her deputies strangely had used gwb43.com as an e-mail domain.

The production of these e-mails to Congress was a kind of slip. In its tense negotiations with lawmakers, the White House has steadfastly refused to give Congress e-mails other than those between the White House and the Justice Department or the White House and Congress. E-mails among presidential aides have been withheld under the claim of executive privilege.

When I worked in the Clinton White House, people brought in their personal computers if they were engaged in any campaign work, but all official transactions had to be done within the White House system as stipulated by the Presidential Records Act of 1978. (The PRA requires that “the President shall take all such steps as may be necessary to assure that the activities, deliberations, decisions, and policies that reflect the performance of his constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties are adequately documented and that such records are maintained as Presidential records.”) Having forsaken the use of Executive Office of the President e-mail, executive privilege has been sacrificed. Moreover, Rove’s and the others’ practice may not be legal.

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A Bush Too Far

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Bush Administration, Karl Rove

Harold Meyerson wants to know what the Bushies were thinking.

The truly astonishing thing about the latest scandals besetting the Bush administration is that they stem from actions the administration took after the November elections, when Democratic control of Congress was a fait accompli.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ hour-long meeting on sacking federal prosecutors took place after the election. The subsequent sacking took place after the election. The videoconference between leaders of the General Services Administration and Karl Rove’s deputy about how to help Republican candidates in 2008, according to people who attended the meeting, took place Jan. 26 this year.

During last year’s congressional campaigns, Republicans spent a good deal of time and money predicting that if the Democrats won, Congress would become one big partisan fishing expedition led by zealots such as Henry Waxman. The Republicans’ message didn’t really impress the public, and apparently it didn’t reach the president and his underlings, either. Since the election, they have continued merrily along with their mission to politicize every governmental function and agency as if their allies still controlled Congress, as if the election hadn’t happened.

Last week Wayne Slater was on one of the politics talk shows opining that Karl Rover was convinced the GOP lost the midterm elections because of the corruption scandals, e.g. Duke Cunningham. D. Kyle Sampson and Harriet Miers began drawing up a list of attorneys to be purged in 2005, but most of the purging occurred in December 2006, after the midterm. So, yes, one does wonder what they were thinking.

Democrats such as Waxman clearly had planned to hold hearings on the administration’s hitherto-unexamined follies of the past six years. Instead, the most high-profile investigations they’re conducting concern administration follies of the past five months, since they won the election.

And then there’s Iraq. In spite of overwhelming public opposition to the war and an overwhelming lack of confidence in Bush to make something good out of it, Republicans in Congress continue to support the war and the President. I admit, I expected a lot more rats to desert the sinking ship by now. Meyerson provides four possible answers to this mystery.

  • They still think they can win in 2008.
  • They want to block the Dems from doing anything so they can run against “do-nothing Democrats” in 2008.
  • “The alternative reality conveyed by the Republican media — Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and their ilk — has created a Republican activist base that is genuinely not reality-based, and from which the current generation of Republican pols is disproportionately drawn.”
  • “…good government is just not in their DNA. Bush and Rove are no more inclined to create a government based on such impartial values as law and science than they are to set up collective farms.”
  • Bush and Rove are a symbiotic creature. They were both problem children; Bush was the screwup son of a prominent family; Rove attended nearly half a dozen colleges without getting a degree. They both took an interest in politics, and found each other, and out of that symbiosis came a Formula for gaining and keeping political power. And that formula served them well for a long time. Neither was interested in government, but while Bush was governor of Texas that didn’t matter much. He went through the motions well.

    Once in Washington, BushRove finessed the September 11 attacks to maximum political advantage. But the creature was also being protected by a Republican Congress and the Noise Machine — the media-think tank infrastructure that wealthy conservatives began building in the 1970s, about the time Karl Rove dropped out of his last college. With the full force of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy enabling it, The Formula worked just fine.

    The big flaw in the BushRovian Formula was the governing thing. Even when government business is conducted in maximum secrecy, the results of incompetence and corruption can only be kept hidden for so long. Chickens do come home to roost.

    No matter how much trouble it gets into, the creature is not going to change. It won’t try to work with Congress; it won’t stop trying to get by on spin and bluster. When backed into a corner, the creature will fall back on The Formula, because that’s all it knows.

    As to why the rest of the Republicans are still carrying water for the creature — hell if I know.

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