The other day on a radio talk show, a caller began criticizing Democrats in Congress, saying all they're doing is complaining, and she's getting tired, tired of hearing Democrats complain. Absolutely understandable. Of course, if Republicans are weary, just imagine how Democrats feel.
Trust me, if someone thwacks you in the head with a hammer, and the next day punches you in the gut, and later kicks your groin and then crushes your foot -- and afterwards steals your wallet, takes your watch and spits in your face -- it's no fun having to keep complaining. But then, it's even less fun having to smile and take it.
The caller should also understand an even more basic truth: if you don't want to hear Democrats complain, then Republicans should stop giving them things to complain about.
This has become the Republican mantra. As Democrats called for a perjury investigation into currently-resigned Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, White House spokesman Tony Fratto whined that Democrats are "more interested in headlines than doing the business Americans want them to do."
If you don't want to be investigated, then stop doing things that require investigations. Quit lying to Congress about firing U.S. Attorneys. Quit leaking the name of covert agents. Quit wiretapping American citizens without warrants. Quit illegally involving federal employees in party politics. Quit destroying email evidence.
Do you think Democrats like investigating this??
Okay, okay, yes, they do, but they don't like being put in a position where they have to. Americans want a fair, honorable, law-abiding White House; and it sickens Democrats that there isn't. (It should sicken all Americans.) As much as one might rejoice taking a thief to court and seeing him thrown in jail, wouldn't you rather he didn't rob your home in the first place? But when there's a crime, it has to be investigated. That's how "law and order" works.
Just because Alberto Gonzales has resigned, the crime doesn't disappear. Yet Republicans are calling for investigations to stop.
Even more than that, though, it's bizarre that White House spokesman Tony Fratto thinks investigating all these crimes in the White House isn't doing "the business Americans want them to." Does he actually believe that Americans like the criminal activities of the White House and want them ignored? (Hint: President George Bush has a 25 percent approval.)
Still, Mr. Fratto could have gotten away with just foolishness if he'd stopped there. But alas, he sinks into quicksand when stating, "Americans are now taking notice that this Congress, under Democratic leadership, is failing to tackle important issues." Americans are upset. What he conveniently leaves out is that those "important issues" untackled are ending the Iraq War. And it's not that Democrats haven't tackled this (they have), it's that they haven't accomplished the task -- because Republicans have blocked it and the White House has threatened a veto.
Honestly, other than ending the Iraq War, what other "important issues" does Mr. Fratto believe Americans are upset about?? Privatizing Social Security? Teri Schiavo's death? When a Republican spokesman chastises a Democratic Congress for not trying to push through their agenda, you just know something's way wrong. Magicians call this "misdirection." You are dead-positive that Tony Fratto is hiding something massive up his sleeve.
But then, this is the Republican talking point these days. When Congress issued contempt subpoenas to Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten for not showing up, Tony Snow petulantly stomped his foot and said that Democrats knew the charge has "very little chance of going anywhere." Interestingly, this is almost verbatim what Richard Nixon's spokesman said about subpoenas for his tape recordings. The only difference is that Ron Ziegler probably insisted, "No chance." (Incidentally, "Very little chance" is Washingtonspeak for "Oh, My God!! Circle The Wagons!!!!!")
In those days of Watergate, Nixon spokesmen became famous for delivering "non-denial denials." Mr. Snow continued this tradition, comparing the investigation to "throwing mud against the wall and hoping something's going to stick."
The description is close -- but off. The correct reference should be to "scraping cow dung off the shoes and hoping you get it all." It also ignores the reality that all the dung may stick.
But then, Mr. Snow attempted to smear Democrats with a blistering charge that (surprise!) turns out isn't remotely true. He thus "blasted" the contempt subpoenas: "And so now we have a situation where there is an attempt to do something that's never been done in American history, which is to assail the concept of executive privilege, which hails back to the administration of George Washington,"
Never been done. Not ever. In all American history. All the way back to George "I cannot tell a lie" Washington. Never. Never. Never.
Unless you count 1974. United States v. Nixon. When the Supreme Court ruled unanimously 8-0 against Richard Nixon's claim of executive privilege over those pesky tapes.
Something America was probably told at the time by the White House we had "very little chance" of getting.
Sorry -- "no chance."