Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The President picks a fight with Dems ?

For most of President Bush’s term, I have been a supporter of his foreign policy. I have agreed with his decision to go into both Afghanistan and Iraq. On the domestic side, I have found some issues I supported him in, and others I thought he was wrong in. One issue I have been sorely disappointed with is his lack of an apparent fighting spirit against the Democrats.

Too many times over the Bush Presidency I wanted the President to be very vocal about problems I felt the Democrats were the root cause of. Too many times I thought Democrats said things that the President could easily refute that he wouldn’t talk about. I think one thing that contributed to the loss in November was the fact that the President didn’t go on the offensive enough when he had a Republican majority.

Drudge has a large headline on his site currently proclaiming, “Bush Vows to Block Subpoenas; Warns Dems No ‘Show Trials’”. The link is to a story on Breitbart from the AP. I want to quote the first paragraph from the story:

“WASHINGTON (AP) - A defiant President Bush warned Democrats Tuesday to accept his offer to have top aides testify about the firings of federal prosecutors only privately and not under oath or risk a constitutional showdown from which he would not back down.”

I hope the President is really willing to see this one all the way through. It looks like there is now no way to avoid prolonged exposure to this story. I think many of the issues that Brandon, Familyman, and Matthew brought out in previous comments will be answered one way or the other in the coming weeks.


Brandon said...

This is a fight that could get really nasty. Several Republicans have joined the Democrats in objecting to the firing of the USAs. If Bush follows through on his threat, we will see what may be one of the most serious challenges to the Constitution since the Nixon era.

If Congress subpoenas Rove, Miers, and Gonzalez, aren't they required to appear to testify or risk being jailed for Contempt of Congress? If so, I don't see how the Attorney General, former White House counsel, and chief presidential adviser cooling the heels in jail is beneficial to either the administration or the country. If this is the case, then the president and the Democrats seem destined to square off in a federal district court and then the Supreme Court, something that I also think isn't good for the nation.

Andy D said...

I don’t know for sure the answer to that question. I don’t think Congress is able to compel a sitting President or Vice President to appear before them because of the Seperation of Powers. They can issue a subpoena, but the President / Vice President can ignore that. Now, I am not a Constitutional Scholar, but I think I learned that in high school. However, if someone knows more information about when a President can or can’t be compelled to appear, I would love to see it.

I don’t know how far down that extends. I know traditionally Presidents (Republican and Democrat) have fought tooth and nail to prevent their aids from testifying to Congress under oath. The theory is that if an aid has to worry about what Congress might force him to say, he may not be willing to give candid advice to the President.

I think everyone believes this is headed for a Constitutional Showdown. That phrase is thrown around a lot, but if the President sticks with his guns (and I hope he does), I think this time the phrase my actually be appropriate.

I read a pretty good editorial in the NY Daily News about this entire episode. I recommend it to all my readers.

Matthew Smith said...

This will be tough for both of us, but let's do our best to cast aside any partisan preconceived notions.

What valid reason does Bush have for refusing to allow his aides to testify under oath? He has already cleared them to talk, but please tell me what other reason he would have -- other than he is worried about what they might reveal...or perger themselves -- that he won't let them talk under oath?

I don't buy the "principle" argument here...and I know you can't either.

You wrote that "if an aid [sic] has to worry about what Congress might force him to say, he may not be willing to give candid advice to the President." And you're right -- this is why such testimonies are rarely offered.

However, perception is 90% of reality (in politics at least), and Bush has to know what this looks like. At best, his is a "worse than Kerry" flip-flop, freeing up his aides to speak before gagging them again. At worst, it looks like he has something to hide. Something big.

And frankly, that's why Republicans are fighting one another to distance themselves from the White House on this issue. Andy - I admire your loyalty and lack of hypocrisy, but not your reasoning. Not at all.

Andy D said...

I don’t see this as a flip flop. He offered to allow them to be interviewed by Congress behind closed doors and with no transcripts. That is a far cry from a Congressional Inquiry broadcast on CSPAN.

I think the President wants to prevent Democrats from getting aide’s on the stand for a Congressional fishing expedition. Like you said, this is politics. If Democrats or Republicans wanted to find the truth of the matter, they would have taken the President’s offer, and then if they found something they didn’t like , start issuing subpoenas.

Brandon said...

Andy, what I think might be going on here with Congress subpoenaing Rove, Miers, & Gonzalez is that we're to the point where enough Republicans and Democrats don't trust the administration and its officials at all. Therefore, they want the trio to testify under oath so if they later find out that one or all of the three didn't tell the truth they can nail them for perjury. Gonzalez already had the distinction of being the only administration official to be required to testify under oath when the GOP still controlled Congress.

Andy D said...

That is an interesting point Brandon. I think it is very interesting that you think they are going after perjury. That would mean Congress doesn’t think they can actually find or prove any wrongdoing. Instead, they would simply be looking for an inconsistency in the testimony itself. I hadn’t considered that. If that truly is the case, then I understand why Congressional approval numbers are around 26%.

Brandon said...

Andy, I think that I should clarify my comments. I do think that Congress is going to look for any wrongdoing and as insurance they want them under oath. Basically, as long as the three admit that politics factored into the decision to fire the eight attorneys, then they should be fine. They'll probably get lectured to by both houses on how you shouldn't use politics to grade a USA's performance and Gonzalez might have to resign.

Andy D said...

I believe your wrong Brandon. If they admit politics had anything to do with it, I think the Democrats are going to still want someone to resign over this. I hope I am wrong, but I don't think they will be happy until they have a resignation.

Brandon said...

Andy, I would expect that if Miers takes most of the blame, then both parties would lecture Gonzalez and Rove about not doing it again. Miers is a team player, so that might occur. Gonzalez may still resign, it seems like every member who has a grievance over anything that Gonzalez has done over the administration's two terms wants him gone. Ultimately, it will all depend on the president, he seems to have dug his heels in that Gonzalez isn't going anywhere.

Andy D said...

Brandon, it looks like we were both wrong. This scandal has nothing to do with the US Attorney’s or with Iraq. Apparently it is all about Karl Rove.

The Democrats are insisting that Karl Rove testify under oath. They are willing to discuss other options for other people, but Karl Rove absolutely has to testify under oath. Fox News reports the following:

"As I've said before, we don't have to have the same rule apply for everybody. Maybe some would have to be under oath, some not," Reid said. Asked why Rove, Reid pulled his thumb and forefinger together and said, "Because he came this close to being indicted."

So, Reid is upset that Fitzgerald couldn’t find anyone guilty in of leaking Victoria Plame’s “covert” identity, so he wants to have another go at it. I am really interested to hear what others think of this news. Surely if you are really after the truth with regards to the US Attorney’s, there are other individuals you would rather have under oath than Karl Rove.

Brandon said...

Andy, I agree with you. If Rove testifies under oath, then they all should.

Anonymous said...

This is just silly. I check in every now and then on this blog and read the comments and such. I must say it is sad that this topic has received more comments then any other. This is a non-issue. The office of the president has created the US Attorney positions to help him execute the laws of the land. Of course they are political; they are an extension of the president. If he wakes up one morning and wants them gone that is it. GONE.
Yes it was a little shady the whole "well they did not do a good job" thing. That is like an injury report in hockey, "he has a bad shoulder" while in reality it is a hurt foot. It does not matter they are still hurt, just like they are still fired.
This in no way loses my faith in the justice system.
What does lose my faith is the fact that what should be a slam dunk case against a court house shooter in Atlanta keeps getting delayed. It happened 2 year ago and they just delayed the trial again!!!

The other part of the no faith comes from the fact these people were fired because they were either going after too many politicians or not going after enough. There is no faith in the whole system because our "trusted elected officials" are no better then a common thief.

And is it not ironic that the group leading the charge saying the US Attorney’s office should not be political are mostly from the same party. So they are getting up in arms about something that they themselves are doing.
I also thought that the congress was the Congress of the United States of America, not the united states of the democrats. Our legislative body needs to take a look at themselves as well because they are way more party line running then these US Attorney’s ever were.

If that news story from Fox News is correct then I guess we understand why they want somebody under oath. Just to convict somebody. Why should we expect anything more from the party that is running things in congress? I seem to have lost track but are we not closing in on a 100 days? No change.

That is all…

Andy D said...


Just so you know my position, I don't think any of them should testify under oath. But the fact that the Democrats are willing to let Rove testify under oath, and negotiate on the rest says alot about this "scandal".

Matthew Smith said...

"...Fitzgerald couldn’t find anyone guilty in of leaking Victoria Plame’s “covert” identity, so he wants to have another go at it."

Jeez...have you forgotten about Scooter Libby so soon? He was convicted you know...

Andy D said...

I would laugh if that wasn't so tragic. What was he found guilty of again??

familyman said...

I'm pretty sure he was found guilty of lying to cover up the fact that he actually did tell a reporter that Valerie Plame was a covert CIA operative. Right?

Andy D said...

Surely my friends on here from the oppisite political spectrum haven't found a man guilty of something he was never charged with. Libby was found guilty of purjury. Fitzgerald new who first leaked Plames identity within a few weeks of the beginning of the invistigation. It was Richard Armitage. Fitzgerald was unable to find anyone in Bush's administration guilty of leaking Plame's id. My theory,and I have seen others say the same thing, is that she wasn't classified as "covert" and therefore it wasn't illegal to discuss if she worked for the CIA or not.

Matthew Smith said...

I just wanted to follow up here with a couple of items I found late last week and over the weekend. Also, I thought you might get a kick out of generating more than 20 comments to one specific post (I'd get a kick out of more than two comments on my blog).

I'm sure by now you've seen the Congressional Research Service study that refutes Karl Rove's primary talking point about the US Attorney scandal -- namely, that only five of 486 US Attorneys who served between 1981 and 2006 have been fired before their terms expired (one of them for biting a stripper). Surely, we can put an end to the "it happens all the time" arguement.

That's an impartial study, but then I read some passionate commentary that I had to share from Salon's Joe Conason:

Rove is a proven liar who cannot be trusted to tell the truth even when he is under oath, unless and until he is directly threatened with the prospect of prison time. Or has everyone suddenly forgotten his exceedingly narrow escape from criminal indictment for perjury and false statements in the Valerie Plame Wilson investigation? Only after four visits to the grand jury convened by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, and a stark warning from Fitzgerald to defense counsel of a possible indictment, did Rove suddenly remember his role in the exposure of Plame as a CIA agent.

Not only did Rove lie, but he happily let others lie on his behalf, beginning in September 2003, when Scott McClellan, then the White House press secretary, publicly exonerated him of any blame in the outing of Plame. From that autumn until his fifth and final appearance before the grand jury in April 2006, the president's "boy genius" concealed the facts about his leak of Plame's CIA identity to Time magazine correspondent Matt Cooper.

There is no reason to believe that Rove would ever have told the truth if Fitzgerald had not forced Cooper to testify before the grand jury and surrender his incriminating notes, with a contempt citation and the threat of a long sojourn in jail. Indeed, there is no reason to think that even knowing Cooper had testified would have made Rove testify accurately. He failed to do so from July 2005 until April 2006, after all. But in December 2005, Fitzgerald impaneled a new grand jury and started to present evidence against him.

In the embarrassing aftermath of that very plain history of lying, covering up and gaming the prosecutor, Rove's friends offered two cute explanations. Explanation one was that he supposedly didn't remember that he had spoken about Plame with Cooper until Time reporter Viveca Novak reminded his attorney of that fact. Explanation two was that he didn't say Plame's name aloud to Cooper but merely referred to her as Wilson's wife and said she worked at CIA. So technically, when he claimed he didn't name her, he wasn't literally lying. Except that he didn't remember doing any of that anyway.

I dislike the president's politics, but I HATE Karl Rove's BS. Why is he still employed? Loyalty should not trump the law.

Andy D said...

In the quest for the magical 20th comment….

I view the Salon the same way that you view Fox News. I don’t think Salon has met a Republican they liked yet. I also don’t understand the venom that many Democrats feel for Rove.

As my liberal friends always point out, it doesn’t matter what you think, until someone is proven guilty they are innocent. Karl Rove was never tried or even charged with breaking the law. If Fitzgerald could have charged Rove with something and didn’t, then Fitzgerald is truly a bad lawyer. And if you believe that Fitzgerald would have let Rove off the hook, I have some property I would love to sell you. At the end of the day, Fitzgerald could only charge one person with a process crime. No one was charged with “outing” Plame. The theory that the President intentionally tried to destroy Wilson’s career because of something he said is simply not true.

Wilson didn’t have that great of a career in the first place. There is debate regarding whether he even merits the title “Ambassador”. I also question whether or not you can legitimately call her a “covert” agent. It seems like a lot of the testimony regarding that has revolved around the definitions of “covert” and “undercover” and so on.

Matthew Smith said...

You know how I can call Wilson "Ambassador"? Because the president (of the USA, no less!) named him as such.

Your refusal to acknowledge Wilson's public job title or his wife's covert one is a mystery wrapped in zero logic. Zero.


Andy D said...

Matt, it looks like I have to give you the point on this one. I double checked, and Ambassador to Gabon does count. Sorry for the mistake.


Brandon said...


Did you see that the National Review called for Gonzales to resign in their editorial today? The link is here:


Andy D said...

I disagree with the National Review. I believe Democrats would see a resignation as a sign that they could potentially get an even better target, maybe Rove or Cheney. And besides that, who will Bush appoint to that position that Congress will accept if he does resign?

Brandon said...

Andy, I doubt that Cheney's going anywhere, otherwise he'd already no longer be the VP. As for a potential replacement at AG, how about James Baker? He's a loyal Bush friend, is competent, and is non-partisan. I think that both parties would love him as the choice.

Andy D said...

Wow, I would be against that. I think a lot of people would be quite upset with a Baker nomination. I question his sanity after seeing the ISG report.

Matthew Smith said...

Unbelievable. Baker was Bush's man on the ISG, and when their report indicates that Dubya's administration did a less-than ideal job, he's crazy all of a sudden?

Andy, that's just not right. Baker would not be Dems' choice as AG, but he'd be a guy we could live with. Where do you get off questioning his sanity? I thought this was supposed to be the blog without name-calling!

Andy D said...

I question his sanity becuase of some of the recommendations made in the report. I think a few of the recommendations (namely to try to negotiate with Iran and Syria) are just a recipe for trouble.

Brandon said...

Andy, if we are to succeed in Iraq, then we are going to have to talk with Iran and Syria at some point. I would like nothing more for Iran and Syria to change leaders, but that's not a realistic scenario right now.

Iran and Syria both have a lot to lose if we withdraw and if Iraq becomes Somalia II as a result, and we want to get out as soon as possible, a deal with economic incentives would be feasible for Syria. Iran is a different story, but they have more to worry about if Iraq collapses, so a compromise is possible.

Andy D said...


A good argument, but this is one of those times that we just have to disagree. I think Iran has more to gain if Iraq collapses than if a pro-Western Democracy is successful on their borders. If Iraq collapses, then Iran can make a play for a portion of the area for control. Iran doesn’t want a democracy on its borders. There are dissidents within Iran that want freedom their. If an actual democracy survives or flourishes with Muslims running it, then Iran has to worry that suddenly more people in their borders may want a democracy in Iran.

And don’t forget one very important fact about tyrants; they need an enemy in order to hide what they are doing from their own people. An external enemy helps them keep control of their populace, it gives them someone to blame the everyday problems on, and it provides some cover for the more barbaric activities they may want to engage in. Tyrants need an enemy and a fight more than they need peace.