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The Nixon White House Would Blush

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Can there be any doubt after today that a president who rode into town promising “honesty and integrity” has brought our ethical standards to a new low?

We now have a White House operation in place that is a pure, unadulterated political machine, with no discernible ethical scruples. They think nothing of baselessly attacking any and all political opponents – just ask Senator Max Cleland and John McCain. And they will circle the wagons around their key loyalists, no matter how culpable – see Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.

We learned from Downing Street, that the White House was willing to “fix the facts around the policy,” no matter the cost in lives or our nation’s reputation. Rovegate involves the same modus operandi: When faced with a growing scandal before the election, Bush righteously promised to throw out any and all leakers. McClellan went so far as to tell us it would be “ludicrous” to accuse Rove or Libby of leaks. Now that there is no doubt that those statements are false and, presto, the standard has changed to “if someone committed a crime.”

The powers that be at the White House really can’t be so naive as to believe that the American public will fall for this charade, so the only possible conclusion is that they have entered into a “save Rove at all costs strategy,” even if it means making earlier statements “inoperative” and eliminating any and all White House ethical standards short of criminal misconduct. Apparently, “Bush’s brain” is so central to the White House operation, that Bush is willing to bet his presidency on the outcome of Fitzgerald’s investigation. To me that is truly scary.

Two articles out today to bring to your attention. First, the AP has a story on Bush’s changing the ethical rules in the middle of the game, including a quote by the undersigned.

Second, the LA Times has an excellent overview of where we are and how we got here.

There is really no doubt at this point that two key political operatives in the White House, namely Karl Rove and I. Lewis Libby, set about to smear Joe Wilson. They used the media to out a CIA operative, vehemently denied they had done so, and now that they cannot deny it any more, Bush backtracked to change the standard for dismissal from leaking to criminal misconduct. Now they are simply hoping and praying that both the necessary level of legal willfulness cannot be shown and that the press and Democrats can be bullied or intimidated into thinking that ethics -- as well as internal security requirements -- don't matter.

Look for the White House to try to change the subject very soon.