"I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it.” – George W. Bush, Nov. 4, 2004
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve heard about the growing scandal involving the firings of several US Attorneys, allegedly for political reasons (i.e. they didn’t play ball with Bush). I’ll let you read about the public smearing of these attorneys, the “serving at the pleasure of the president,” etc. for yourself.
Prominent names such as Alberto Gonzales, Karl Rove and Harriet Miers have been tied to this scandal; Senate and House committees have authorized subpoenas of Rove, Miers and other Bush staffers – the goal being to get direct answers from these people – but have thus far not issued any.
In an unprecedented (and preemptive) show of generosity, Bush has said he will allow his people to speak with Congress… provided the meeting is done in private (no TV cameras or members of the public allowed), the participants are not required be under oath, and no transcript of the proceedings is kept.
You want the truth? The American people can't handle the truth!!!
Obviously Bush saw the subpoenas coming and made this offer in an attempt to prevent that happening. He seemed quite taken aback when his offer was quickly brushed aside by Democrats and some Republicants who want, oh, what is that word, accountability.
Under fire for offering testimony (he’s calling them “interviews”) under such tight constraints, Bush has gone to great lengths to explain just why he’s demanding these concessions.
He is concerned that, if his aides fear being dragged before Congress they will not provide him with “candid” advice. To me that says that Bush’s aides can only be honest with him if they’re not made to be honest with Congress(?)
Bush has also characterized potential hearings as “show trials” and “partisan fishing expeditions.” This, even though it is standard procedure to call White House officials before Congress when some wrongdoing has been alleged. And even though some members of his own party agree the proceedings needs to be transparent and verifiable.
Has anyone asked Bush for PROOF that the demand for accountable testimony equals a show trial? That's a pretty defensive posture he’s taking with that unsubstantiated accusation.
Through his spokesman, Tony Snow, Bush has also said that he believes the American people are tired of these political circuses. So, his demands regarding the testimony are for our benefit(!) Thank you for thinking of me, sir. But I have to be honest – what I am tired of is this administration being so secretive and intractable.
Snow has also made it clear Bush sees oaths as unnecessary because it’s against the law to lie to Congress. Therefore, any testimony Bush aides provided would naturally be completely truthful. So why bother? Oaths schmoaths!
If there’s an assumption that people will tell the truth when being questioned in an official setting, as Snow suggests, all oaths become unnecessary. Court proceedings could be done on the honor system. Come to think of it, we could skip that oath the president takes at his inauguration, too.
Interestingly, while the White House wants to limit access to testimony about conversations between the president and his advisers, it has also insisted that the president never discussed the matter of the US Attorney firings with his advisers. When asked to explain this discrepancy, Snow stated that the question was “intriguing.” Huh?
I think all rational, reasonable Americans want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth on this matter. That necessitates public, on-record, under-oath testimony. It's the only way we can have faith in the process. I have said this before: ALL Congressional hearings should be done this way, regardless of which party is in power, or who is on the chopping block.
How this subpoena battle will go is still up in the air. But one thing seems certain: Democrats have earned capital, political capital, from the 2006 elections, and now they intend to spend it.