Besieged Bush can stop the nonsense
By Michael M. Bates
Democrats are having a blast since taking control of Congress. A day without something new to investigate is like a day without sunshine for them.
Dismissed U.S. attorneys. Valerie Plame. Iraq. The Federal Communications Commission. Conditions at Walter Reed Hospital. The FBI looking for terrorists. The Federal Emergency Management Agency's delivery of housing grants. And the month's not over yet.
The Washington Post reported that "In two months, Democrats have held 81 hearings on Iraq. ‘This is just the beginning,' said Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. ‘What a difference a year makes.'"
Earlier this month, Democratic majority leader Steny Hoyer issued a fact sheet declaring there have been 106 full committee House oversight hearings on executive agencies since his party took over in January.
Take the termination of eight U.S. attorneys. We're told that this is a criminal outrage, an unprecedented ethical violation. At a minimum, the head of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales must roll. Yet there was no similar indignation in 1993 when Clinton's Attorney General, Janet Reno, demanded resignations from all 93 U.S. Attorneys. She said it was routine and her boss agreed: "All those people are routinely replaced and I have not done anything differently."
U.S. attorneys are political appointees, serving at the pleasure of the president. A president can dismiss them at any time. George W. Bush is an apparent exception to this rule. Granted, the administration could have handled the dismissals more adroitly. That doesn't mean, though, that laws were broken and people need be sent to the hoosegow.
No matter. Let Ms. Plame Wilson milk the situation for a million-dollar book deal and anything else she can get. In the meantime, Democrats will hold more hearings, issue more subpoenas, and conduct more investigations.
There is a way out of this mess for Mr. Bush that he might consider. He could make a speech like this:
"My fellow Americans, I'm tired of the never-ending inquisition. I'm weary of ridiculous investigations and absurd inquiries. No one would argue that Congress doesn't have a legitimate oversight role. In the few weeks Democrats have been in charge, however, this duty has been twisted by partisan fanatics into a blank check to abuse the investigative process. At the rate they're going, my dog Barney can expect a subpoena any day.
"Maybe nonstop investigations are what people wanted when they elected a new majority last November. Perhaps those voters desired a great deal of time and money and other resources devoted to meaningless witch hunts. Even some of them might be tired of the feeding frenzy by now.
"Why do Democrats demand that their hearings be televised? It's because their real goal isn't accountability. What they want are photo ops, sound bites and press releases in which to incorporate their daily talking points.
"Anyway, I've had enough of the games. They'll have to go on without me. Laura and I are going back to the ranch. This is a drastic move I would have preferred to avoid. But something needs to be done to stop the nonsense. For six years I've proudly performed my job to the best of my ability. I don't intend to spend the rest of my term under a microscope trying to justify actions to people who'll never be satisfied.
"I've pardoned Scooter Libby and those two border agents, which I should have done before. And I submitted my resignation to the Secretary of State a few minutes ago.
"So now I want to introduce President Cheney. I'm certain that Congressional Democrats will find him much, much easier to work with. They'll find him a constant source of delight. His cooperative spirit, congeniality and moderation will mean an end to the Washington gridlock. He hasn't been the Chief Executive, so Democrats can at last call off the dogs and stop their pointless investigations. They desperately wanted me out of the White House all these years and now that's what they're going to get.
"Mr. President, if you'd like to put down that rifle for a minute and say a few words. . . ."
This Mike Bates column appeared in the March 22, 2007 Reporter Newspapers.