Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Don't ask - won't tell

It takes more than coffee to cut through Fogg’s morning fog, but this lead article in today’s New York Times put the wind in my sails and heeled me over to leeward.

We don’t know much about Harriet Miers, nor does the Senate and if she is to be a Supreme Court Justice, we ought to know something about Harriet Miers. We do know something about George W. Bush and that is that if he had his way, we would know nothing but what he is willing to tell us.

According to Richard Stevenson’s article today, when asked at a news conference whether he would release some or all of her legal work as White House counsel, Mr. Bush said that the principle of executive privilege was important and that any Senate request for documents would be a distraction from considering Ms. Miers' qualifications.

"I just can't tell you how important it is for us to guard executive privilege in order for there to be crisp decision making in the White House," Mr. Bush said.

Stevenson does not tell us whether the representatives of the press dropped their pencils or spit up their breakfasts at this mention of “Crisp decision making” by a President who notoriously took 7 minutes to decide whether to pause in reading My Pet Goat and who decided to go to a couple of parties rather than react to Hurricane Katrina, but there is no astonishment in the fact that secrecy is important to a “leader” whose incompetence, malfeasance and mendacity exceed the worst we have ever faced as a nation.

Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary whose job it is to say whatever it takes to disguise the President’s motives without regard to veracity or even to previous statements, is quoted as saying:

"It would be unprecedented to release confidential, deliberative documents of a sitting president," he said. "There is a separation of powers issue here."

Again we are not told whether giggling erupted amongst the press corps at the suggestion that Bush might prefer a separation of powers to the direct Party control over all branches he enjoys, although his concern for his privilege and the privileges of the privileged is well known. It is to be remembered that one of his first concerns upon ascending the throne was to prevent any of his father’s papers from coming to light and it may take more decades for the boil to be lanced than it took for Nixon’s foul recordings to be made public.

If White House Press conferences are ever to be more than cynical propaganda sessions, we need someone there who truly represents us all. We need someone with the courage to speak up. We need Dr. Ben Marble.

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