|February 7, 2006||EDITORIAL ARCHIVES|
As Soon as the Republicans Voted to Prohibit Gonzales from Testifying Under Oath About Illegal Wiretapping, The Democrats on the Judiciary Committee Should Have Walked Out. Period.
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
The grand showdown between the Dems upset at Bush's illegal wiretapping fizzled out as soon as Arlen Specter -- the two-faced Bush go-fer of the GOP -- not only ruled that Gonzales didn't have to testify under oath, he pretended -- as scripted -- to prohibit the Attorney General of the United States from doing what most Americans are required to do in a Court of Law or before Congress (unless they are from the White House or CEOs of big oil companies).
It was at that point, once again, that the Democrats became merely bit players in a script once again written by the White House. For many years, and most recently in several editorials, BuzzFlash has lamented that the Dems don't understand that these hearings are soap operas -- and that the Bush/Rovian propaganda staff writes very effective soap opera scripts.
In this case, the goal of the soap opera was to allow Gonzales not to testify under oath, so that he wouldn't be likely to be charged with perjury. After that point, everything else just became a big muddle. And, the White House knows, in a situation like this, they win if the hearing turns out to be inconclusive and stalemated.
We had to laugh through our tears for democracy when Arlen Specter boasted that he was the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and no Attorney General was going to decide for himself to testify under oath, as Gonzales pretended that he wanted to be sworn in (but, of course, knew in advance that it would never happen, so he could lie with impunity). Oh, my Lord, you couldn't get hack Hollywood scriptwriters to do a better job!
But, as we've always said, between the Coasts, Americans believe what they see. And, once again, you had the appearance of an earnest man claiming he wanted to testify under oath because it wouldn't change what he would say.
Oh yeah, right. You bet it would change what Alberto "Bush Consigliere" Gonzales would have said. He might not have been so eager to lie again.
We can sneer at the cynicism, but most Americans don't look at the television image or newspaper reporting with a sense of skepticism and irony. That's largely a trait known primarily to those who are in the thick of the political fray.
The Democrats lost control of the hearing when Specter forced a party line vote of 10-8 that Gonzales wouldn't be sworn in. Period.
At that moment, the Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee should have taken charge of the scriptwriting and left the room in protest after ranking member Senator Patrick Leahy made the following statement:
"Mr. Chairman, if we ask athletes who testify about steroid use to be sworn in, if we ask citizens in courtrooms around this land to be sworn in, if we ask civil servants who testify before Congress to be sworn in, we surely think that it is unacceptable that the Attorney General of the United States cannot provide testimony under oath.
"I was a prosecutor and I would ask no less of the highest law enforcement official in the land than I would of someone who enters an American courtroom.
"There is no reason to hold a hearing if the Attorney General of the United States won't do what we ask of our citizens, which is to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth -- and be subject to legal jeopardy if he does not.
"Mr. Chairman, we stand by our Constitution and the rule of law. At this time, we are leaving this hearing until such time as the Attorney General of the United States will be required to testify in the same manner we would require of any citizen in such circumstances.
"There cannot be one rule of law for the average American and another for the Attorney General of the United States.
"Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and now, if you will excuse us, we will no longer be party to this injustice and slight to Americans who dutifully are sworn in throughout the land, day in and day out. They have nothing to fear, why should the Attorney General of the United States of America?
"Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and good day."
Oh, but those words were never spoken, and we never heard the shuffling of chairs as the Democrats walked out of the hearing in one united defiant stand to uphold the rule of law. That would have gotten the attention of the American public.
And even in Kansas, they would have begun asking why is the Attorney General of the United States above the rule of law. Why do I have to be sworn in and he doesn't?
It's a matter of common sense.
The Dems have to stop thinking that they are going to win a chess game based on logic. They have to start seizing the script and the dramatic moment.
They failed again, and the Bush illegal wiretapping continues. And the Attorney General of the United States, Mr. Gonzales -- the Consigliere for George W. Bush -- once again got away with breaking the law and not being held accountable.
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
Buzzflash Afternote: Why should anyone have to testify under oath in a United States court room when the Attorney General of the United States won't? And the President and Vice-President wouldn't before the 9/11 Commission (when Bush wouldn't even talk with them without Dick Cheney by his side)? And Condoleezza Rice wouldn't be sworn in before the 9/11 Commission?
Oh, we could go on, but we won't. The Bush Administration knows that once they have to tell the truth, their goose is cooked.