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Blonde on Blonde


A few days ago, the original Breck girl of the U.S. Senate, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, took to the TV airwaves and compared the possible sins of this White House to Martha Stewart’s woes.
Martha didn’t do anything wrong, the Senator said of her fellow blonde. It was just small, technical violations of the law. She didn’t do anything really wrong. Overzealous prosecutors just over-did things and poor, long-suffering Martha went to jail.
Now, have you noticed that Martha doesn’t spend a lot of time talking about how she was wrongly convicted? She’s done all the legal dancing around, of course. And she appealed the verdict. But she stopped talking about the unfairness of it all months ago, when she got out of jail. See, Martha gets it. And I’ll bet she’s not real happy to have her legal troubles used as excuses for the two-bit cover-up that’s gone down at the White House. Lying to cover up a stock trade is one thing; lying to invade another country with the U.S. Armed forces, well that’s not the same.
Regardless of the reasons, lying to prosecutors is not a small “technical” violation of the law and let me tell you, I would love love love to have been on the phone as U.S. Attorney Jim Comey explained that little fact of life to the Texas Senator.
Outside of the offices of Texas Republicans, lying to prosecutors is called perjury, or lying under oath, and it’s considered a very big deal. It’s a big deal because we – or at least some of us out here in the United States of America – consider obeying the law to be, oh, I dunno, a good idea. It is, after all, the belief that we should all – every last one of us, even guys with White House jobs – obey the law that lies at the heart of our legal system, our democracy, our belief. The one we appear to be forcibly exporting to other nations – that the rule of law is supreme. It is, among other things, the metric we use to see that people are treated fairly.

Now, let’s be clear. The law doesn’t say that you must confess, freely and fully to your sins if you are under investigation. What it does say is that if you are under investigation, you may not get in the way of law enforcement by destroying documents, or fleeing the country, or sending your ill-gotten gains to some overseas bank, or lying. Or getting someone to lie for you, and flee the country or carry a suitcase of money out of the country.
It says you must be truthful. Or you may invoke your right not to incriminate yourself by “taking the 5th.” You don’t have to be honest, but you must be truthful.
But this has not been a truthful administration.
I keep thinking that there’s no way Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff Lewis Libby will get indicted but, increasingly, there is evidence that he will. And I keep thinking it’s impossible for President Bush’s “brain,” Karl Rove, to get indicted but I think if Libby gets the tap, he will, too. It all seems just impossible. I mean these are smart guys – they know the drill – how could it have come to this?
But it’s clearly coming to this. One clear sign is that this White House is beginning to leak. Stories about President Bush yelling at staff, and today’s NYTimes piece on Libby and Vice President Cheney are all good indications that lots of folks at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue are not happy. And they aren’t scared of retribution for showing their unhappiness. This is a White House that has placed a great deal of emphasis on its ability to control its image. That ability is slipping. And fast.
But really, what can you expect from an administration whose main calling card is a kind of bizarre incompetence that includes eerily well-managed sloppiness and disciplined denial in the face of contrary evidence. An incompetently handled war, an incompetently handled economic policy, an incompetently handled hurricane response. So yeah, it seems like they would be incompetent liars, doesn’t it?
FOOTNOTE: For those of you who have been following the Judy Miller aspect to all this – not many, I know but you press junkies are out there – take a look at the New York Times’ coverage of this story in the past few days since the paper abandoned Miller’s “story-line” about what she did and what she said. It’s been killer. Which tells you all you need to know about where Miller’s loyalties lie. And they aren’t with the paper.

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