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Politics Is King in Bush White House
[Opinion] Partisan loyalty trumps competence in choice of appointments
Jeremy Jacquot (jjacquot)     Print Article 
Published 2007-04-16 14:08 (KST)   
"The Democrat leaders in -- Democratic leaders in Congress are bent on using a bill that funds our troops to make a political statement about the war. They need to do it quickly and get it to my desk so I can veto it, and then Congress can get down to the business of funding our troops without strings and without further delay." - George W. Bush, April 10, 2007

While the Bush administration and its acolytes have made the practice of issuing misleading talking points, inanities and exaggerations commonplace over the last few years, this statement from President Bush still came as somewhat of a whopper due to its sheer hypocrisy. The president accusing the Democrats of playing politics with the war? Never mind the fact that in the same speech he cited the terrorist attacks of 9/11 no less than three times, cautioning that, "This is an unusual era in which we live, defined on September the 11th, 2001. See, that's a date that reminded us the world had changed significantly from what we thought the world was." This even though a recent report from the Pentagon definitively dismissed any link between al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein's government. And never mind that he had the audacity of discussing Iraq's post-war reconstruction process in the historical context of World War II, a war of necessity, and the Marshall Plan to chide the Democrats for their unwillingness to give in to his demands.

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While this obsession by the White House, and specifically Karl Rove, to politicize all aspects of the public discourse and the government's operations to score partisan points and to undermine its opponents has been well-documented, several scandals have come to the fore over the past few weeks to underscore the extent of this practice. Perhaps the most reported on, not only due to the implications it carries for the Bush administration's line of thinking on law and justice but because of the high level of the officials involved, concerns the firings of eight U.S. Attorneys for no apparent reason other than they didn't prove their loyalty to the president enough by pursuing partisan objectives.

We now know that Kyle Sampson, the former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, lied under oath when he disputed the notion presented by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) during his hearing that he had already thought of replacements for the attorneys before they were fired by the Department of Justice. Indeed, an e-mail composed a year before the announcement of the firings was recently released to the House Judiciary Committee and showed Sampson making recommendations about candidates for the positions based on their level of loyalty to the Republican Party. The convenient deletion of over 5 million sensitive e-mails to and from key White House staffers, in clear violation of the Presidential Records Act, further casts doubts on the administration's ulterior objectives in firing the attorneys and on Karl Rove's involvement in this and several past high-profile scandals, including the Valerie Plame leak case and the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal.

The Bush administration has a history of installing operatives and allies in high positions in the government (recall former head of the Federal Emergency Management Administration Michael Brown) regardless of their competence or experience. It has chosen to hire 1 out of every 6 graduates from the Rev. Pat Robertson's Regent University, a right-wing law school dedicated to upholding evangelical Christian values. Included among these is Monica Goodling, who served as Gonzales' senior counselor and White House liaison before resigning after invoking the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in refusing to testify before the Senate about the attorney case. Bud Cummins, the former U.S. attorney in Little Rock, Ark., was pushed out of office to make way for J. Timothy Griffin, a Rove protege and former aide, whose sole qualifications for the position seemed to be "that he worked as Karl Rove's assistant in 2005 and did opposition research for the Republicans during the 2000 campaign," according to an article in Radar Online. According to The Washington Post, documents show that Rove and Harriet Miers were already pushing for the president to approve Griffin's appointment several months before he replaced Cummins.

This is unfortunately but one of many instances of the Bush administration attempting to hijack the government's institutions and to impose its political will for sheer partisan gain. In recent months, we have also heard of efforts to subjugate the resources of the General Services Administration, a government body responsible for managing federal properties and procuring office equipment, to help Republican candidates during the 2006 midterm elections; of efforts to silence government scientists working at the Fish and Wildlife Agency and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency wishing to voice their concerns about climate change; and of the Election Assistance Commission's blatant bias in giving credence to Republican allegations of widespread voter fraud, despite experts' views to the contrary, and supporting the government's "fantasy," as a New York Times editorial put it.

In light of this, the fact that Bush would have the temerity to accuse Democrats of imposing a withdrawal date certain for solely partisan purposes, a position in fact shared by a large majority of the American public, is simply risible. Mr. President, if you truly feel passionate about promoting the common good and rising above partisan lines to solve the pressing problems we face in these times, I recommend you first look into your own administration before passing judgment on others.
This article is scheduled to appear in the April 19 edition of the UCSF Synapse.
©2007 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Jeremy Jacquot

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