The 110th Bassmasters' Congress: Fishing With Your Tax Dollars

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Jul 10, 2007 5:35 PM

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Well, as we all know, the President has run into some mightily lowly poll numbers of late. There's a report out today that he's down to an all-time low of 29 percent, after diving head-first onto the treacherous summer Slip-n-Slide that is "comprehensive immigration reform" and landing in the bramble bush of base betrayal. Yes, Mr. President, that is a big ol' conservative thorn in your tush.

That being said, the brand new and ostensibly much-improved Democrat Congress-- the Congress of change, of progress, led by a grandma with a mandate-- has had the privilege of sinking even lower than Bush in just 6 short months (at least it took the President seven years to tick off that many people!). The Congress now floats somewheres between 23 percent and 14 percent approval, depending on who you ask.

But how could this have happened to the most ethical Congress in history? The answer lies in one number: 300. The Democrats managed to launch 300 investigations in 100 days in office.

The administration hasnot said when or if it will respond. Spokesman Scott Stanzel saidThursday the White House has received a many requests for informationsince Democrats took control of Congress in January and has turned over200,000 pages of documents.

"They've launched over 300investigations, had over 350 requests for documents and interviews andthey have had over 600 oversight hearings in just about 100 days,"Stanzel said.

Democrats, fyi, were "dubious" of the White House's figures, but offered none of their own.

How's that for progress, huh? Listen, there are plenty of legitimate things the Congress should be doing oversight on. Many of those things would turn up problems in the Bush administration, just as they do in every other administration. But 600 hearings? Surely, they've done something other than try to pin the scandal on the elephant, right?

Wrong:

What’s more, in their first 100 days in office the Dems have managed to get all of two bills passed.  Two.

They did name some post offices.

So, what's the 14-percent Congress up to now? Well, over at the liberal blogs, people are still hopping mad about the district attorney Scandal In Name Only. Eight appointees whom the White House had the perfect right to fire were fired, and the 14-Percenters are trying their damnedest to figure out the motivation for those firings and insodoing, subpoena their way back up to Bush's admirable approval ratings, apparently. Not sure it's gonna work.

Despite the President's offering his aides up for private questioning with Members of Congress (off-the-record), so that Members could determine if firings were inappropriately motivated, the Congress is now subpoenaing Bush aides Sara Taylor and Harriet Miers, among others, and the President has responded by invoking executive privilege to prevent their testifying.

We are troubled to read the letter's charge that the President's"assertion of Executive Privilege belies any good faith attempt todetermine where privilege truly does and does not apply." Although weeach speak on behalf of different branches of government, and perhapsfor that reason cannot help having different perspectives on thematter, it is hoped you will agree, upon further reflection, that it isincorrect to say that the President's assertion of Executive Privilegewas performed without "good faith."

As the letter from the Acting Attorney General explained inconsiderable detail, the assertion of Executive Privilege here isintended to protect a fundamental interest of the Presidency: thenecessity that a President receive candid advice from his advisors andthat those advisors be able to communicate freely and openly with thePresident, with each other, and with others inside and outside theExecutive Branch. In the present setting, where the President'sauthority to appoint and remove U.S. Attorneys is at stake, theinstitutional interest of the Executive Branch is very strong. TheActing Attorney General's letter clearly identifies the subject matterof the deliberations and communications at issue and provides anextensive treatment of the issues implicated by the subpoenas and thelegal basis for the President's assertion of Executive Privilege.

All the legal experts and liberal bloggers are now intently discussing whether "executive privilege" applies here while all normal Americans go, "Huh? Who cares?"

Heading up the charge and the Dem message machine on this issue is John Conyers:

"Contrary to what the White House may believe, itis the Congress and the courts that will decide whether an invocationof executive privilege is valid, not the White House unilaterally," theMichigan Democrat said.

The same John Conyers who runs fake, fantasy impeachment hearings in the basement of the Capitol? Yep, that's the one.

So, we can be assured that this is an objective investigation, totally unmotivated by partisan politics. Let's see what happens if Bush's aides don't go rogue, defy his "executive privilege" order, and testify anyway, which they're highly unlikely to do:

First, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT),whose committee issued the subpoena to Taylor, would have to seek acitation of contempt, first with a vote in committee, and then in theSenate. (House Judiciary Chair John Conyers said yesterday that he would not cite Taylor, but it's not his call to make.)

From there, things become a lot less clear. As we've reported before,historically a citation of contempt has led to some sort of compromiseagreement before the matter can get to court. But that seemsincreasingly unlikely to happen here, given the intractability of thetwo sides.

Well, that oughtta play well for the 14-Percenters-- dragging public servants who have committed the horrible crime of advising an American president in front of a do-nothing Congress so that do-nothing Congressmen can get their rocks off on questioning them very seriously and aggressively.

Yeah, and I mean you too, Arlen:

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said the posturing wasa waste of time and money and a distraction from the questions at hand:Who ordered the firings, why, and whether Attorney General AlbertoGonzales should continue to serve or be fired.

I'm not saying nothing went wrong, here. I'm not saying Gonzales is blameless, though whatever was done wrong seems open to interpretation and on the minor side. Many conservatives don't feel like speaking up for Al because they've never liked him much. Many conservatives don't feel like speaking up for anyone in the administration these days after the administration's inappropriate attacks on immigration bill opponents. The White House wrote its own ticket on this.

But for Democrats to act as if this is much more than another partisan fishing trip for a Congress that's perpetually "gone fishin'" is nothing but a big ol' fish tale. Before long, those approval numbers are gonna be about the size of the last fish I caught, and I'm no fisherman.