Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Testing, Testing... Is This On?

"Mistakes were made" was Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' comment today on the brewing scandal over the "Justice" Department's apparently political purge of U.S. Attorneys. If you're of a certain age, that particular passive-voice clause can't help but evoke chilling memories of the Nixon administration; it's a tactic straight out of their playbook.

Of course, you didn't need to wait to hear Gonzales to know that Bush is the new Nixon: The president himself sounded the same note in his January speech on the Iraq surge, and the U.S. Attorney purge is just one more piece of evidence -- on top of the Plame case, the NSA spying, FBI abuses under the Patriot Act... Hell, the Patriot Act itself -- that this president and his minions have no shame when it comes to using the instrumentalities of government to reward cronies, punish enemies, and spank those insufficiently vigilant in the pursuit of the administration's political aims.

Nixon famously said "when the president does it that means that it is not illegal," and no president since -- maybe not all the presidents since, combined -- has done as much to convert that bit of arrogance into actual policy than George W. Bush.

I wonder if those Nixon-era tape recorders are still in the Oval Office? But no... surely W has his own Rose Mary Woods.

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