we, as a nation, are arriving at a
turning point this week.
so, let us compare and contrast, shall we:
". . .I'm not going to let anybody come down
at night like Nicodemus and whisper something
in my ear that no one else can hear. That is
not executive privilege; it is poppycock. . ."
-- senator sam ervin, then the
chair of the senate select committee
investigating the watergate scandal
"Watergate and a lot of the things around
Watergate and Vietnam during the 1970s, served,
I think, to erode the authority I think the
president needs to be effective. . ."
-- vice president cheney, december 2005
[it is easy to recognize the rotting
fruit that fell from the above tree today. . .]
the current, narrow, dispute concerns whether the
president will voluntarily comply with a request
for public, sworn testimony before congress -- this
time, about the circumstances surrounding the
dismissal of eight assistant united states
attorneys. however, all agree that at stake is a
much broader idea.
at stake -- being decided anew, for this
generation -- is the continued vitality of
the idea that a transparent and accountable
presidency is part of the constitutional fabric
of our nation. that fabric was quite notoriously
tattered by president nixon during the watergate
break-in, and subsequent cover-up. the fabric
was only later mended by a bevy of legislative
reforms in the middle- to late-1970s.
today, the president attempted to dictate the terms under which his office would comply with requests for testimony before congress. his offer was unsworn, private interviews of karl rove and other white house staff members -- with no transcripts.
leahy has been
clear: he wants
public, and sworn,
testimony on the record, before
his committee, from all of
those involved at the white
house in the decision to fire the
assistant united states attorneys.
[i note that the narrative on tomorrow morning's
new york times opinion page, written by one of the
dismissed assistant united states attorneys, alleges
improper -- perhaps unlawful -- attempts to accelerate
sealed corruption proceedings for election-day
advantage, by incumbent republican conressmen. if
well-founded -- and there would be little reason to
fabricate such a claim, especially given that the
attorney's home phone records likely show the calls
alleged -- the gravamen of this narrow dispute grows
exponentionally -- perhaps, even, to watergate-
era significance, or beyond. . .]
the president, somewhat disingenuously, it seems, has
asserted, without much logical foundation, that he
will be unable to obtain good advice if his people
may ultimately have to tell the truth about what
they said, after the fact. . . frankly, i don't
get it -- how is public veracity antithetical to
sound advice-giving and -receiving? [i assume, of
course, that mr. bush would not seek advice on the
pursuit of unlawful, but otherwise undetectable,
courses of action. perhaps that is my problem.]
"poppycock" seems apt, no?
this dispute will directly inform representative
conyers' ability to command public, sworn testimony
from vice president cheney (and karl rove), when he
gets around to it -- about the role each played in
directing/ordering/master-minding scooter libby
about, throughout the valerie plame wilson outing,
and the subsequent cover-up of said outing.
so. . . pop up a bag of popcorn, and stay tuned.