“You had me at ‘gutless’”

I didn’t even have to read Dick Morris’ article to know that I liked it. Here’s the tag for the article at Front Page Magazine: “Only gutless Republicans could turn the U.S. Attorney firings into a budding constitutional crisis.” Well, yeah. The Democrats scream bloody murder over the political equivalent of a hangnail, while the White House politely allows itself to be disemboweled. I’m all for good matters, restraint, and a functional and friendly atmosphere in D.C., but this rollover on the faked attorney scandal leaves me almost breathless. You can’t win in politics if you’ve got nothing even resembling backbone, and are missing some significant guts to boot.*

Morris’ article, by the way, lives up to its promise. I’m quoting at length here, because I really didn’t have the heart to leave any of this off my blog. However, there’s much more to the original article, and you’d probably enjoy reading the whole thing:

When will the Bush administration grow some guts? Except for its resolute — read: stubborn — position on Iraq, the White House seems incapable of standing up for itself and battling for its point of view. The Democratic assault on the administration over the dismissal of United States attorneys is the most fabricated and phony of scandals, but the Bush people offer only craven apologies, half-hearted defenses, and concessions. Instead, they should stand up to the Democrats and defend the conduct of their own Justice Department.

There is no question that the attorney general and the president can dismiss United States attorneys at any time and for any reason. We do not have civil servant U.S. attorneys but maintain the process of presidential appointment for a very good reason: We consider who prosecutes whom and for what to be a question of public policy that should reflect the president’s priorities and objectives. When a U.S. attorney chooses to go light in prosecuting voter fraud and political corruption, it is completely understandable and totally legitimate for a president and an attorney general to decide to fire him or her and appoint a replacement who will do so.

The Democratic attempt to attack Bush for exercising his presidential power to dismiss employees who serve at his pleasure smacks of nothing so much as the trumped-up grounds for the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson in 1868. Back then, radical Republicans tried to oust him for failing to obey the Tenure of Office Act, which they passed, barring him from firing members of his Cabinet (in this case, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton) without Senate approval. Soon after Johnson’s acquittal, the Supreme Court invalidated the Tenure of Office Act, in effect affirming Johnson’s position.

But instead of loudly asserting its view that voter fraud is, indeed, worthy of prosecution and that U.S. attorneys who treat such cases lightly need to go find new jobs, the Bush administration acts, for all the world, like the kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. All Republican supporters of the administration can do is to point to Bill Clinton’s replacement of U.S. attorneys when he took office. Because the president and the attorney general insist on acting guilty, the rest of the country has no difficulty in assuming that they are.

*Mr. Bookworm was listening to NPR this morning, and played the “readers letters.” As to the attorney “scandal,” the letter deemed most representative of the many that came from NPR listeners on that subject essentially said if the White House officials have nothing to hide, why don’t they just walk into Congress, take an oath, and expose themselves to the Democratic party for testimony.

I thought the “innocent people have nothing to hide” tactic was fascinating, since it has never seemed to sway the liberals in the area of terrorism. That is, they’re horrified by the Patriot Act because it pries into areas where they say it has no business being, because it might expose innocent people doing innocent things. Yet they’re asking White House operatives to walk into the enemy’s lair (and that’s what Congress has become with the switch in majorities) without a blink or second thought. The inconsistency is especially interesting considering that they’re demanding that people give up manifest constitutional rights for a political witch hunt, but are loath to ask for a possible limitation in some rights in order to stop potentially apocalyptic slaughter. Hmmm….

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  1. says

    I thought the “innocent people have nothing to hide” tactic was fascinating, since it has never seemed to sway the liberals in the area of terrorism.

    Joe McCarthy. They’ve been ganging upon that guy talking about innocent people have nothing to hide thing, for awhile now.

    That is, they’re horrified by the Patriot Act because it pries into areas where they say it has no business being, because it might expose innocent people doing innocent things.

    But Book, doesn’t that tell you something? That they never was horrified by the PA for that reason? That maybe they really are fake liberals, as fake as they can be? Course they, they have perhaps always been this way.


    Consistent with my deductive conclusions, all in all. That was made awhile ago, years ago.

  2. says

    The Bush administration IS incapable of standing up for itself and battling for its point of view. I think this goes some way toward explaining the appeal of Rudy Guliani’s candidacy, certainly for me. I simply can’t imagine anyone writing anything like this about a Guliani administration.

  3. says

    Bush is such a puzzle to me. He was so gutsy in sticking his neck out on Iraq, with all of his “Bring it on” bravado (which I actually kind of liked), yet where is the toughness now? Where has it gone?

  4. CO Conservative says

    I’ve been waiting for years for this administration to stand up for itself on anything but Iraq, and have given up. You’d think after a few attempts at being nice to the Kennedys and having Fat Ted turn around shove it up them, they’d learn that being nice doesn’t work with Democrats. They seem incapable of playing hardball on any issue of importance, and are quite willing to throw loyal employees to the wolves (Libby, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft). No wonder Bush inspires no loyalty – he isn’t loyal to his own, why should they be loyal to him?

  5. says

    In a sense, Bush promised to change the tone of Washington DC, and I think he wanted to try out the model of bipartisanship he used with Democrats in Texas. But as we know, Southern Democrats are not… well Democrats in a way.

    It’s hard for Bush to go back on his position once he takes it. The bad thing is, Bush took that position before he got to DC… and like his position with Iraq, once he has a position, he doesn’t want to move away from it. And NOBoDY can make him move away from it. Even the surge is a modification, and a painfully long one in coming at that, rather than a reconfiguration of his position.

    Bush is stubborn, and we all know that when a person has a good position, being stubborn is good. But if he is wrong…. being stubborn is bad.

    The problem is that Bush is too loyal to his specific notion of loyalty. That specific notion of loyalty is not based upon nepotism. He will not bend the rules to give someone an out, and yet at the same time, he will reward what he sees as good performance with awards. This has a curious tendency to… well, not cover for his loyal people, and not punish disloyal people. I can’t exactly explain his exact motivations. But as we see with Rumsfield, Bush didn’t accept his resignation. Like more than twice, if I recall. That’s cause if Bush thinks you are doing a good job, he has a sort of blindspot.

    It almost isn’t about the person. It is more like what Bush’s position on that person is. If he has had that person for a long time and been involved in operations, like Rummy, he will try to keep them on for like forever. Similar to Tenet.

    Bush and Rummy will not manipulate the courts, the media, or even in a sense domestic politics in order to deceive their way to their goals. That’s one of the problems. They do not use the tools of statecraft to accomplish the security of their position and the safety of their people. In that sense, I’m talking about how Bush keeps saying “I will not interfere with an official investigation”. They will not play favorites. But how do you defeat favoritism, if you won’t pick favorites? It is not Bush being disloyal to his people, it is Bush telling them that Bush won’t bend the rules for them. When they are facing the Left, who not only bends the rules, but breaks them.

    It is the same story of the US vs terrorists. By self-limiting yourself, you think you are good, but that’s not true. You’re just continuing the resistance, and the fight, and the killing.

    If Bush was hardcore on the Left and the media, he would get less criticism, more praise, and more political capital/support. It was only when he was killing and overthrowing governments, that people liked and supported him. When he tried to bunker down in Iraq and go on the defense, without harming or killing anyone, then the jackals come, you see. Best defense is a good offense.

  6. Oldflyer says

    What baffles me the most is the role that Cheney plays. We constantly hear that he is the most influential VP in history. But, what is he counseling the President on the subject of Washington politics?

    Perhaps someday someone will explain Bush. I am prepared believe that he is like Reagan (don’t howl yet) in that he focuses on a few key issues and will not be distracted. In Bush’s case it is the “War on Terror” (I hate that innocuous term) and Iraq. It is possible that, also like Reagan. he is just too nice to get in the gutter. Otherwise you have to conclude that he is an extremely slow learner.

    But Reagan had his proxies and they would mix it up with the best of them. Cheney is an old Washington hand. He knows how that cut-throat town works, and I never thought of him as a shrinking-violet. He certainly wasn’t as SecDef when he put the screws to Naval Aviation. So, why isn’t he doing more elbowing and punching? Is Bush holding him back? I wish I knew.

  7. Al says

    Yes, the mystery is why dosn’t President Bush come out swinging? And I liked his phrase “Bring it on!” too. After reading the two books about him that came out in the latter half of his first administration, “The Right Man” and “Bush At War”, you see that he inspires great loyalty. He also has some constructive, dare I say “liberal”,attitudes on the environment. He may have the religious attitude that his ideas are right, and right will triumph. Or maybe he feels he can take on only one war at a time.

  8. Oldflyer says

    Grg, you shouldn’t read that stuff. You especially shouldn’t call attention to the fact that you are reading it; otherwise folks might think you are really deranged.

    Tell me do you hang around that in that Kos sewer and in Huffington’s little cesspool?

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