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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Is Team Bush Collapsing?

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is really feeling the heat. What I love about all of this is that it's not the attorney purge that's coming back to bite the administration in the ass, so much as it is the fact that they tried to hide the purge. In fact, had it not been for all the lying that went into the covering up the firings, this whole thing might've gone nowhere. As things are now, Gonzales is bailing on press conferences before anyone can ask him any questions.

Chicago Tribune (via Think Progress):

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales dashed out of a Chicago news conference this afternoon in just two and a half minutes, ducking questions about how his office gave U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald a subpar rating.

Gonzales, who increasingly faces calls for his resignation, was here to promote a new ad campaign and had planned a 15-minute press availability. He left after taking just three questions over a firing scandal consuming his administration.

Before leaving, Gonzales said he wanted to "reassure the American people that nothing improper happened here."

You know what they say about heat and kitchens -- Gonzales couldn't take it, so he got the hell out. And this was fun:

Agence France-Presse:

The noose tightened Tuesday around beleaguered US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, after a top aide, fearing criminal prosecution, refused to testify in a scandal over the dismissals of eight federal prosecutors.

Questions about what role Gonzales might have played in the affair intensified, after senior aide Monica Goodling invoked her Fifth Amendment rights to avoid potential self-incrimination and declined to answer lawmakers' questions about the firings.

"The hostile and questionable environment in the present congressional proceedings is at best ambiguous," her lawyer John Dowd said in a statement.

"More accurately, the environment can be described as legally perilous."

Nice spin, but you don't plead the fifth if everything's above board. Goodling believes she's committed a crime and can't answer questions honestly without penalty. IMO, they ought to give her immunity. That alone would be enough to make the entire Bush administration crap their pants.

There's obviously something to hide here. If the fact that Goodling pleaded the fifth isn't smoke enough, there's the fact that the White House was using non-government email accounts to discuss the firings. That way, they wouldn't have to keep records of the emails. But, once again, the cover up comes back to bite them in the ass -- they probably won't be able to claim 'executive privilege' to keep the emails private.

The problem with lying is that once it starts to come apart, there's no saving the lie. In this case, there seems to be a lot of lies, all tied together, and as one falls, the rest follow. As this unfolds, it just gets worse. I doubt Gonzales will survive it. In fact, Bush may not.

The woman who wrote the articles of impeachment of President Nixon, Elizabeth Holtzman, argues that the legal case for impeachment of Bush is solid -- and serious.

Foreign Policy:

The latest Bush administration scandal—the firing of eight U.S. attorneys under highly questionable circumstances—has Washington abuzz with talk of a new Watergate. The question on everyone’s mind is: Could this be the president’s Saturday night massacre—the obstruction of justice that triggers impeachment?

Unless there is a sea change in Congress, talk of impeachment is largely a hypothetical exercise. That does not mean there’s no legal case against the president. If a California prosecutor were fired to end an investigation of a Republican congressman, that might be a crime. If the others were fired for failing to prosecute Democrats without evidence, that would be a gross abuse of power. If President George W. Bush played any role, impeachment is a legal possibility.

We need not wait for the outcome of investigations of this scandal, however, to conclude that President Bush has so abused the powers of his office that he could be impeached and removed from office. There are already other substantial grounds.

She argues that this isn't the only legal case for impeachment -- the warrantless wiretapping is stronger. And lying America into war is the strongest political case.

Make no mistake, impeachment is a political process. Those who wanted to remove Clinton from office found that he was too popular and the voters wouldn't stand for it. Bush is not popular. The attorney firings, one more scandal, one more crime, one more bunch of criminals exposed, might be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

It may turn out that the political case for impeachment is cumulative. That it takes Katrina and Iraq and Enron and wiretaps and Scooter Libby and all the crap I've lost track of -- and the lying to cover up the attorney purge. It may be that the best argument is the Bush administration's history of just plain sucking at the job. And the continuing proof that they're incapable of improvement.

I keep saying that Bush should be impeached and that I don't care what he's impeached for. This is what I mean. The crimes of the Bush administration are compounded by the incompetence. Being an incompetent boob isn't a high crime or misdemeanor, but incompetent boobs commit them. Especially if they have no real impulse to honesty.

The incompetent try to hide their incompetency and, predictably, do it incompetently. So we have Gonzales fleeing the interview and Karl Rove trying to figure out how to keep emails off the record. Everything these people do falls apart.

If this is it, the last straw that makes the Bush presidency fall apart, I won't complain.


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