04/01/2007 06:50 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

How Come You Did What I Told You to Do When You Know I Don't Know What I'm Talking About?

More than forty years ago, I was producing a documentary series headed by a dictatorial executive producer. We were laying down a track in the Movietone News sounds room. We disputed the synchronization of script and picture. He insisted we do it his way. It didn't work. Very much, it didn't work. Embarrassed, he, who had previously worked in Hollywood, turned to me and said, "As my friend Sam Goldwin used to say, 'How come you did what I told you to do when you know I don't know what I'm talking about?'"

Friday's New York Times led with a thirty-six paragraph on the testimony of D. Kyle Sampson, the former chief of staff to Alberto Gonzlaes, at the justice department. In the fourth from the last paragraph, they finally address the subject that I've have been writing about. Did the Justice Department use the provision that Senator Specter snuck into the Patriot Act to make sure that Karl Rove's dirty tricks researcher, Timothy Griffin, was appointed U.S. attorney for Arkansas. The senator who asked the question was Arlen Specter himself. The Times story reads:

"Mr. Specter also pressed Mr. Sampson to explain who else in the Bush administration considered using a provision included in the 2006 authorization of the U.S.A. Patriot Act to name United States attorneys without Senate confirmation. Mr. Sampson finally acknowledged that others in the administration, whom he did not name, favored using that power to keep Mr. Griffin in the Arkansas Post.

"'In hindsight, I believe that it would be an abuse of the attorney general's appointment authority to have used the Patriot Act provision.' Mr. Sampson said, even though he conceded that he had strongly advocated that the attorney general do just that."

Giving Senator Specter the benefit of the doubt about his foreknowledge, I suggest that he was utilizing the Sam Goldwin rationale. To paraphrase, "How come you did what I empowered you to do when you know I don't know what I'm legislating about?"