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In The Balance

biblescales.jpgBob Novak's op-ed today fits the "favor to someone" category of Novakula's writing pantheon, such as it is. Someone called in a favor and Novak was happy to oblige for a price for the good of decent Republican values everywhere.  The idiotic notion that Doan was "taken by surprise" at questions regarding the political briefing that Rove's WH shop gave to her agency's political appointees regarding, as Doan herself said, "helping our candidates" is ludicrous on its face, given that blogs on both sides of the political aisle and print reporters all over DC had been writing about this very question prior to her testimony.  Either Ms. Doan and her staffers had their heads way too far in the sand while they prepped for the hearing, or Novak is lying outright.  You choose.

But leaving aside yet another example of Novak's lying outright with a straight face when it suits him convenient memory lapse syndrome, this struck me as quite an interesting contrast with something else in the news today.  First, let us read a bit of Novak, shall we? 

Doan was taken by surprise that day to find Waxman concentrating instead on a Jan. 26 political briefing about the 2006 elections by Scott Jennings, deputy White House political director, to 30 GSA political appointees — including Administrator Doan. Such briefings were delivered by Jennings throughout the federal government and are not viewed by the White House as violating the 1939 Hatch Act. Waxman fixed on this question said to have been asked by Doan at the briefing: "How can we help our candidates?"

That resulted in the Office of the Special Counsel (OSC), which tracks Hatch Act violations, saying it could "imagine no greater violation of the Hatch Act than to invoke the machinery of an agency . . . in the service of a partisan campaign to retake the Congress and the governors' mansions."

But the Jan. 26 meeting targeted no candidate for support, solicited no GSA employee for political activity and resulted in no follow-up. Doan's question actually was addressed to Jennings. "The harsh penalties under the Hatch Act for a brief slip-up are unwarranted," a congressional Republican source close to the situation told me. "Doan's resignation is a punishment that does not fit the crime."…

Waxman has made no secret of his intent to hound the Bush administration whenever possible, with emphasis on nailing presidential adviser Karl Rove. Bloch's motives are more complicated. He has survived a ferocious left-wing assault (accusing him of being anti-gay), which the White House not only failed to resist but quietly supported. It is payback time for Bloch, to burnish the OSC's reputation and maybe to get even.

The White House has done no more to help Doan than it did for Bloch. One congressional Republican asked a senior White House aide why. The response, he said, amounted to this: This is a very tough time for us when we are preoccupied trying to save Alberto Gonzales, and Doan will just have to save herself.

When I asked Rep. Davis, he replied: "The bottom line is the administration has really not shown any willingness to stand up for her like they have for Gonzales, when what she has done is not nearly so egregious." She will at least have Davis on her side when she faces the committee June 13. Having one friend in Washington is better than having none.

And there you have a typical Novak puffer: methinks this was a favor piece to Davis, who comes out portrayed as the always-decent and loyal knight in shining armor for Doan, in the face of great White House indifference to the plight of la damsel in distress. Bloch and Waxman, the two knaves who have the audacity to raise questions about public officials having to actually follow long-established rules and regs. 

Bloch gets the special Novak knife-twisting treatment as a self-interested, payback wielding jerk who doesn't care if poor Doan is a casualty in his WH revenge plot involving an entire Congressional committee, multiple employees at the GSA and WH, and a GSA head who was paranoid about the Committee getting their hands on her fingerprints.   President Bush, on the other hand — a man whose tenure has been previously and repeatedly characterized by the Wurlitzer's mythmakers and character spinners as built on a foundation of the strongest loyalty to his pals — comes out smelling as an opportunistic coward, more interested in saving his own rear end and that of the folks who are covering it than staying loyal when a poor damsel needs a friend.  Of course, Novak conveniently fails to mention that the slides involved in this particular political shop presentation detailed numerous GOP candidates, their districts, and all sorts of other politically useful information…just in case those in attendance wanted to "help our candidates," they would have known exactly who needed the most help.  Convenient.  Does that about cover it?

But what, you may ask, is the contrast?

"I did have a choice to go to a pay jail," Hilton said Sunday, without giving details. "But I declined because I feel like the media portrays me in a way that I'm not and that's why I wanted to go to county, to show that I can do it and I'm going to be treated like everyone else. I'm going to do the time, I'm going to do it the right way."…

"She told me it was very emotional," Mintz said. "She also said that she feels this will be a time when Paris will be able to think and reflect and to spend time alone to learn from the experience because in Paris' life she's never alone — there's always a constant chatter around her."

Officers arrested Hilton in Hollywood on Sept. 7. In January, she pleaded no contest to the reckless-driving charge and was sentenced to 36 months' probation, alcohol education and $1,500 in fines.

What does it say when Paris Hilton sounds more adult than the Republican catfight crowd?  Paris Hilton comes across as having accepted responsibility for wrongdoing, she has entered a plea to a criminal charge, and acknowledged the need to pay the penalty for her own actions in accordance with the laws as they apply to everyone else. Sure, it may be PR spin, but at least it is the right sort.

Novak's piece says the following: "Doan may have violated the law, but not as much as other Republicans like Alberto Gonzales have, so since he gets Administration support and a pass from them on his conduct, she should, too.  And anyone who doesn't think so is a meanie."  This is the best that the GOP spin machine can do — we ought to get a pass for misconduct because other people have done worse, and besides who knew I had to follow the law in the first place?  Jeebus, I didn't accept that at a probation violation hearing when I was prosecuting, why on earth should the American public accept that from public officials?

That is just pathetic.  Ms. Doan will be back before Henry Waxman's government oversight committee for additional testimony on June 7 UPDATE:  Hearing has been rescheduled to June 13th.  (H/T to pseudonymous in nc for the find on this.)  No word, as yet, whether Waxman's committee has received the requested e-mails from Scott Jennings, Karl Rove and others regarding the Powerpoint presentation that the RNC has been holding back from their servers. 

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com