Monday, April 16, 2007

Reprise: The most beautiful sound I ever heard

It's been a tough week to be Alberto Gonzales--never a situation you'd really want to find yourself in anyway, I'd think, but worse now than usual.

Gonzales and his people have pretty evidently been lying to Congress under oath. Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, knows this. Gonzales knows Leahy knows. Everyone in Washington knows Gonzales knows Leahy knows.

Thus the almost unbelievable sight of a United States Attorney General spending the month of April desperately, and none too successfully from the sound of it, cramming like a hungover sophomore for his Senate testimony tomorrow--testimony where, if he and his department are as Simon-pure as the administration claims, he should have nothing more challenging to do than tell the truth.
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales has retreated from public view this week in an intensive effort to save his job, spending hours practicing testimony and phoning lawmakers for support in preparation for pivotal appearances in the Senate this month, according to administration officials.

After struggling for weeks to explain the extent of his involvement in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys, Gonzales and his aides are viewing the Senate testimony on April 12 and April 17 as seriously as if it were a confirmation proceeding for a Supreme Court or a Cabinet appointment, officials said.

Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman, and Timothy E. Flanigan, who worked for Gonzales at the White House, have met with the attorney general to plot strategy. The department has scheduled three days of rigorous mock testimony sessions next week and Gonzales has placed phone calls to more than a dozen GOP lawmakers seeking support, officials said.

Gonzales is seeking to convince skeptical lawmakers that he can be trusted to command the Justice Department after the prosecutor firings, which he initially described as an "overblown personnel matter." Subsequent documents and testimony from his former chief of staff have shown that Gonzales was regularly briefed on the process, revelations that have led to calls for his resignation.

Justice officials and outside experts said the effort is further hampered by legal conflicts among Gonzales and his senior aides. Top Democrats have also accused department officials of misleading Congress in previous testimony, leading Justice lawyers to insist on limiting contact between key players to avoid allegations of obstructing a congressional investigation, officials said.

notes that, with two days still to go before Gonzales has to testify, he's already publicly rehearsing saying "I don't recall" to questions he hasn't been asked yet.

And, while we're on the general subject, Karl Rove's getaway to Oregon last weekend probably didn't do much to help him forget his troubles, either. Rove, you might recall, is at the center of a story involving five million missing emails sought by congressional investigators, emails that are most likely covered by the Presidential Records Act of 1978:
A lawyer for the Republican National Committee told congressional staff members yesterday that the RNC is missing at least four years' worth of e-mail from White House senior adviser Karl Rove that is being sought as part of investigations into the Bush administration, according to the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

GOP officials took issue with Rep. Henry Waxman's account of the briefing and said they still hope to find the e-mail as they conduct forensic work on their computer equipment. But they acknowledged that they took action to prevent Rove -- and Rove alone among the two dozen or so White House officials with RNC accounts -- from deleting his e-mails from the RNC server. Waxman (D-Calif.) said he was told the RNC made that move in 2005.

His own people had to specifically prevent Rove from deleting his email records? Should we conclude that direct instructions from a Special Counsel not to do so just, you know, slipped his mind?

And--alas for the White House--the story doesn't stop there, since the don't-delete-the-emails instructions date back to the beginnings of the Scooter Libby Plamegate investigation.

And if the U.S. Attorneys scandal leads straight to Gonzales's door, and the missing documents problem points directly and personally at Rove, the Libby trial was always a load of birdshot aimed directly at the Vice President's face.
Representative Henry A. Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, yesterday sent a letter to Gonzales asking that all nongovernment e-mails sent by White House officials be preserved.

Waxman cited media reports alleging that Rove has sent 95 percent of his e-mails via a nongovernment account, and expressed concern that many of those e-mails apparently were not preserved.

Waxman said his committee would examine whether e-mails were deleted in violation of the Presidential Records Act.

The fact that e-mails are missing was noted -- but not widely and publicly noticed -- in the perjury trial of Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

In January 2006, prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald sent a letter to Libby's lawyer that noted that "we have learned that not all of the e-mail of the Office of the Vice President and the Executive Office of the President for certain time periods in 2003 was preserved through the normal archiving process of the White House computer system."

And how do we know what fragmentary bits we do know about Gonzales's stretchers, Rove's fast ones, and Cheney's schemes?

I'll give you a hint:

It's an eight-letter Latin word that can be translated as "under pain."

One of my best bits of parody in the last couple of years--and most from the heart, I might add--got lost in the post-election roar last November. I'm reprinting it here, with a slightly-updated title (because when I published it originally, it wasn't clear that the Dems had recaptured the Senate). I'm giving it a second outing partly because, unlike some of the other bits of fugacious ephemera I've banged out over the years (to borrow a Lehrer-ism) this one seems to have some staying power in the struggle to keep up with current events. (And partly for the pleasure of remembering the works of Frank Jacobs, another of my literary heroes.)

Without further ado:
A Brief Lyric On The Occasion of the Democrats Recapturing Control of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives After 14 Years of Republican Mismanagement, Incompetence, Corruption, and Dereliction of Duty

The most beautiful sound I ever heard:
Subpoena, Subpoena, Subpoena . . .

Watch Republicans freak at a single word:
Subpoena, Subpoena, Subpoena . . .

The Dems finally get to subpoena,
And oversight will be
So painful for the GOP.

They'll long for the days of Katrina.
Gonzales will work late,
To get his stories straight,
You'll see.

Say it loud and Karl Rove starts forgetting,
Say it soft and watch Tony Snow sweating.

Dick Cheney will choke on subpoenas.

The most beautiful sound I ever heard:

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