Wednesday, March 14, 2007

And what about the White House travel office?

"Bush Defends Gonzales in Firing of Prosecutors" reads this afternoon's headline from the New York Times website.

Of course it does. What else would it say?

"Bush Fires Gonzales Over U.S. Attorney Flap" -- mmm . . . no.
"Bush Calls Top Justice Department Official 'Incompetent'" -- and he would know incompetence, how?
"Justice Department Officials Quit Over Gonzales Leadership" -- whoa! Absolutely not . . . that would be "disloyal," and we all know that what matters most in Bushworld is loyalty.
"Senate Republicans Issue Statement of 'No Confidence' in Gonzales; Demand Resignation" -- yep, and the Washington Nationals will win the World Series this year.

Just a week ago, the headlines were filled with Scooter Libby's demise, and so was the chatter about the latest malfeasance come home to roost in the Bush administration (or, in this case, the underworld of Dick Cheney). But the U.S. Attorney's story has blown Libby's travails off the front page, and deservedly so. This is such a blatant abuse of power that it is hard to know how to even describe it without foaming and spitting at the mouth. And worse, for Gonzales to say that the "firings were not politically motivated" is such a spectacular lie that, again, how do you even offer a response?

Just for fun, I looked up Republican reaction to the first major "scandal" of the Clinton administration -- the decision of Hillary Clinton to fire seven people in the White House travel office to make way for some Arkansas political buddies.

Uh-huh . . . the travel office. As in, "Mr. President, would you like the vegetarian or kosher entree on your flight to Nashville?"

The decision to go after Hillary was simply too tempting for these Republican guardians of integrity. So, this major intrusion into the national security of the United States, this reckless disregard for border security, public corruption, criminal justice, drug trafficking, election fraud and so on, attracted a special prosecutor, cost the public (and the Clintons) millions of dollars in legal fees and ultimately concluded, via a special report released just in time for the 2000 election, when Hillary was running for the vacant New York senate seat, that she had provided "factually false testimony" during the earlier investigation that began almost seven years before.

Her opponent, Republican congressman Rick Lazio, had this to say about Hillary's behavior:

''We believe that character counts in public service. Because we believe that integrity needs to be restored to our public servants.''

Damn straight, especially for something as important as doling out patronage jobs in the White House travel office.

Some Republican lawmakers have made noises about showing Gonzales the door. New Hampshire Senator John Sununu, whose father was Bush I's hatchet man, called for Gonzales's firing this afternoon; Senate Judiciary minority leader Arlen Specter has spoken in code about setting Gonzales loose (friends of mine who work on the Hill have told me that Specter would just assume place a noose around Gonzales's neck and knock the step-stool out from underneath him); and a couple of more, speaking without attribution, have suggested that the Attorney General should resign. Even the Washington Post editorial page, which never calls for anything more than a Blue-Ribbon bi-partisan commission in response to the crisis or scandal of the moment, all but said this morning that Gonzales needs to go.

But will Bush fire Gonzales? Not a chance in hell. Perhaps someone with half a brain will "strongly encourage" Gonzales to resign. That would, however, be a sign of weakness in Bushworld, sort of like when Johnny "Sack" Sacrimoni cried at his daughter's wedding.

Day after day, the question remains the same: How can things get worse in Bushworld? And the answer remains the same as well: Just keeping watching.

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