I Need a Scorecard
To say I do not understand WTF is going on between the Justice Department, the OVP, the White House and Congressional Republicans in the William Jefferson affair would be an understatement. I doubt right now if many can claim to know what this weird dance is all about.
Abu Gonzales has never found a position so base he could not justify at Dubya’s request — from torture to illegal wiretapping to threatening journalists and rubber stamping all manner of unlimited executive overreach — but he’s finally drawing a line in the sand over returning documents seized in a bribery scandal?
Dennis Hastert has gleefully played marionette to perhaps the biggest crook in the House, Tom DeLay, and has happily facilitated the White House’s efforts to hack off limbs of Congressional authority, but now he’s ready to force a constitutional crisis defending a member of the Black Congressional Caucus?
Dick Cheney, chief pimp for the theory of the Unitary Executive, is telling the White House to back off? That’s like Simon Cowell walking on to the set of American Idol and ordering everyone to stop being so mean.
The only one who’s acting in an understandable fashion in all of this is Bush himself, who knows that without Abu to harass journalists and whistleblowers even more of his dirty laundry threatens to bust out into the pubic eye, and should the GOP crooks in Congress decide to play defense and turn up the heat on the White House by providing some oversight he might very likely find himself on the business end of some ugly subpoenas.
As Christy has noted, where the law comes down in all of this is open to debate. Is Hastert just fighting a proxy battle over Jefferson (as the NYT suggests), knowing that his own time is coming? Probably; he certainly engaged in a bit of "bully the press" this week when he threatened ABC news for alleging he was involved in the Abramoff mess. Do the FBI and the DoJ have clean hands in all of this? Unlikely — as Digby says, the FBI has a long history of abusing their power for political ends, and smart money says every Democratic strategy memo seized from Jefferson’s office is presently sitting in Karl Rove’s in basket.
Writing at The Left Coaster, Steve Soto has one of the more perceptive analyses I’ve read:
I doubt that Cheney, for his part, really raised an objection to the raid on constitutional grounds and any newfound concern for a separation of powers, two things that have been an alien concept to him and his staff for five years now. Cheney may have felt the way he did because 1) he correctly calculated that the raid would cost Bush whatever remaining support he had inside his own caucus for his agenda in an election year; 2) he doesn’t want Republicans investigated at all and wants Justice to Deep Six the Abramoff and Cunningham inquiries because of where they will lead; and 3) he saw a chance to stick it to Rove and Abu in the ongoing internal White House pissing contest. Gonzales, for his part, wanted to signal back to Cheney that Bush would have to choose between them and saw a chance to stick it back in Shooter’s face that in this battle, Bush will side with Abu and against Cheney. Sure, there will be some face-saving “compromise” between Frist, Hastert, and Gonzales here, but Bush will continue on with the Jefferson prosecution as he should. It will strain the relationship a little more between the GOP caucuses on Capitol Hill, who are now for the first time really afraid of this administration’s excessive power grab, and a White House that has internal divisions and a degree of dysfunction hidden to all of us. And it will mean that scores of GOP representatives and senators on the hill are now seeing that they reap what they sow, and that Justice will be coming after them now also.
However the tightest summation of this whole games-within-games political drama I’ve read came last night from knuckledragger in the comments:
This is all pig kabuki. There’s no Elliot Richardson or William Ruckelshaus in this bunch. Plenty of Borks, though.
It does indeed seem to be a game being played by a world full of crooks who have operated under a code of omerta, and everyone is suddenly looking around and wondering who’s going to turn into Sammy the Bull. Should be some damn good theatrics in store for the political junkies in the weeks to come, since I don’t think that 45 day wet blanket is going to hold for very long.