“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into”

Jonathan Swift
"The Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital." - Bill Maher
"The city is crowded my friends are away and I'm on my own
It's too hot to handle so I gotta get up and go

It's a cruel ... cruel summer"

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Let's Check the Facts -- Again

Just when we thought the Amarillo Globe-News’ editorial page writers couldn’t get it any more wrong — either for themselves or their columnists — Monday’s editorial about the current crisis of confidence over Attorney General Alberto Gonzales stumbles into view.

I quote it in full because it’s important:

Holding court: While we bet most Americans are responding with a collective yawn over the supposed controversy of the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, there is a double standard that is most interesting. Democrats call for the head of U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and accuse the Bush administration of everything but Watergate II. Where was the supposed outrage when President Clinton had his attorney general, Janet Reno, fire all 93 — that's 93! — U.S. attorneys in 1993? The dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys — for whatever reason — doesn't seem to stack up to whatever reason the Clinton administration had for handing every U.S. attorney a pink slip.

I don’t know where the Globe-News gets its “bet” that “most Americans” don’t care about the situation with Gonzales, but if that’s the case, it’s a failure of people to understand how our government should work — with integrity. It’s also a failure of the media to paint the picture accurately: Everything in this administration does is based on hardball partisan politics instead of the protection of this county’s Constitution. Further, to call this situation a “supposed” controversy raises questions about the ability to discern the difference between fantasy and reality.

Since every administration replaces U.S. attorneys when it sweeps into office, as it does with other politically appointed senior positions, how does the move in 1993, when President Bill Clinton took office, represent a double standard?

It doesn’t, of course. But since it’s another way for the Globe-News (and other conservative media) to paint the Bush administration as right and anyone who disagrees with the Bush administration as wrong, the newspaper won’t let a few facts get in the way of its harangue.

The “whatever reason” comment is the real clue to what the Globe-News doesn’t understand or doesn’t want its readers to understand. The crisis has to do with turning U.S. attorneys into prosecutors of political crimes. The reasons the administration wanted to push out these attorneys revolved around two key points. First, it was to find jobs for the closest political cronies of Bush’s own Rasputin — that would be Karl Christian Rove. And who knows what political agenda would have tainted these offices of law enforcement then. Second, it was to push out prosecutors who were moving too robustly against fellow Republicans and not vigorously enough against Democrats.

The danger to the country was that Rove, Bush and Gonzales were turning the U.S. Attorneys’ Office into an office aimed at prosecuting political disagreement, something I’ve warned about time and again in The Amarillo Independent. How ironic that Tom DeLay, in a variety of interviews over the weekend, objected to criminalizing politics while his old friends in the administration do that very thing.

In every week this saga unfolds, we’re learning something else about the integrity of the administration. Gonzales said at one point he knew nothing and now we know he was involved in the firings. It goes on and on. The dissembling upon dissembling and the spinning of spinning has gotten to the point where even fellow Republicans are turning against Gonzales. Sen. Arlen Specter, the ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said Gonzales has “some explaining to do.” Two other GOP senators, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, also questioned Gonzales’ truthfulness on weekend talk shows.

Rewrite: If the administration’s pattern on almost every issue from Iraq to Katrina to you-name-it isn’t enough reason to demand testimony under oath, then the behavior of the leaders of the U.S. Justice Department fully justifies requiring these officials to go before the Senate Judiciary Committee under oath.

And while the local populace has the right to and should hear opinions of every stripe, they should be exposed to those opinions in the context of facts.