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Federal Attorneys: Rove's Chew Toys

the real horror story this week was not Iraq, or Scooter, or Walter Reed, but how the Bushies view the judiciary

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, March 07, 2007.

I have great sympathy and admiration for second tier guys who have to fill the vacuum left by an incompetent President and come to our notice under trying circumstance. When the President is strong, they pass before us unremarked. A strong President could have held Rumsfeld in line, as others had, and focused his prodigious energies and sharp mind on profitable goals to the nation, like rethinking the roles and makeup of the military.

But Bush is weak. That’s why Cheney rose to the level he did, and how the likes of Scooter Libby – who reminds so much of Richard Clarke – came to our notice. Clarke and Libby both served well and unnoticed for decades in administrations of stronger Presidents. But Bush is weak, and Cheney delusional and incompetent and we met Scooter.

Libby is the fall guy for Cheney, who clearly should be in the dock for lying to the electorate. That, and owning much stock in a company that has blatantly lied, overcharged, underperformed and yet profited mightily from an unnecessary war Cheney advocated and continues to advocate. And so much excitement is in the air about someone, anyone, getting nailed and held responsible for something in the Bush administration, larger horrors are given insufficient attention.

The vet hospital scandals, the Libby conviction, the failed Iraq War, Katrina, the letter sweater incompetence of Bush and Condi Rice as diplomats or even coherent explainers of their own supposed positions all pale in light of the federal attorney scandal. It’s much more important.

In summary, federal attorneys are appointed and serve at the pleasure of the President, and can be removed without explanation. These are powerful if transient positions. All FBI cases go through them. Their appointment must, however, be approved by the Senate. Well, that’s not true, anymore. Republican Senator Arlen Spector, at a time in conflict with Karl Rove and the White House, allowed his representative to tweak some phrasing in the A. Mitchell Palmer Wet Dream – ironically called The Patriot Act – so that the President can appoint without Senate approval new federal prosecutors. And Bush did, firing or causing to resign about ten over the last few months and replacing them with not a few Rove protégés of the Michael Brown competence level.

It was only a startling coincidence that the prosecutors fired had played a role in convicting a number of guilty GOP Congressmen and Senators or were pursuing other embarrassments to the administration. Carol Lam in San Diego, who brought down Duke Cunningham, was one. And David Inglesias in New Mexico – Inglesias being the model for the Tom Cruise character in A Few Good Men – who refused to rush a then weak case against a Democrat before last November’s election, is another. And both New Mexican Republican Senators, in violation of the spirit and letter of their ethics, called to intimidate him to do so. They claim they didn’t, but both have apologized for making the calls after first pretending they didn’t know what the fuss was about. What are they apologizing for, then?

This has all been part and parcel of brute intimidation by Karl Rove’s third rates in violation of everything the United States was supposed to have been formed to get away from. At one time, we were supposed to be a nation of law, not party.

If you’re a Republican, as I used to be, yes: I do recall when Democrats were in prolonged power that they did indeed try to do similar things, and in places like Chicago and in the South they succeeded, and this over a period of years. Power corrupts, without question. Anyone with a shred of honesty will admit that among the horrors visited on New Orleans was the residue of corrupt, generally Democratic doings in the past.

Where the GOP has lowered the bar, though, is that they presented themselves as a party of God, of divine goodness and family values, of hyper-patriotism, of often grim but necessary real world competence in comparison with liberal failure and lack of backbone if not love of country. They decried what they claimed as secular New Age shamism as opposed to their Christian righteousness. In reality, events reveal, the GOP was led as often as not by pasty-faced Chickenhawks of uncertain allegiance blessed by moral hypocrites who went home to their trophy wives and weekend lobbyist extortions and the outsourcing to their supporters’ firms everything they could, whether actual combat duty overseas or military hospital repair and maintenance at Walter Reed.

It’s nice to see someone, even poor schmucks like Libby, held responsible for their crimes, but there are far bigger concerns.