Saturday, March 24


Re the U.S. Attorney firings and Congressional demands for open, under-oath testimony by presidential aides, John Dean, former counsel to president Richard Nixon, discusses the principle and historical use of executive privilege" and opines that W will go to the mat for it:

This time, it is my belief that Bush — unlike Reagan before him — will not blink. He will not let Fielding strike a deal, as Fielding did for Reagan. Rather, Bush feels that he has his manhood on the line. He knows what his conservative constituency wants: a strong president who protects his prerogatives. He believes in the unitary executive theory of protecting those prerogatives, and of strengthening the presidency by defying Congress.

In short, all those who have wanted to see Karl Rove in jail may get their wish, for he will not cave in, either — and may well be prosecuted for contempt, as Gorsuch was not. Bush’s greatest problem here, however, is Harriett Miers. It is dubious he can exert any privilege over a former White House Counsel; I doubt she is ready to go to prison for him; and all who know her say if she is under oath, she will not lie. That could be a problem.

I'm not so sanguine. I agree that Bush may feel his "manhood is on the line." But in my mind W's "manhood" is questionable, and mostly theatre. He blusters, he strikes poses, but in the end he usually finds a way to avoid mano a mano conflicts. His highly vaunted loyalty has limits, as evidenced by his throwing Harriet Miers to the wolves over her Supreme Court appointment, his allowing Condi Rice to testify before the 9/11 Commission after repeatedly exerting "executive privilege," his firing of Don Rumsfeld -- all actions he insisted he would not take, but he ultimately succumbed to the political pressure.

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Sunday, March 18


Just now George Stephanopoulos asked his round table George Will, Donna Brazile, Claire Shipman and Jay Carney which of them believed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales would still have his job a month from now. All four said no.

Wow. Kudos to Josh Marshall for pushing the story of the "eight-men-out" fired U.S. Attorneys to the forefront.