Will It Hurt?

August 8th, 2008at 11:38am Posted by Eli

Murray Waas thinks Republicans will pay a stiff electoral price for BushCo’s efforts to stonewall congressional oversight:

So at a minimum, the Justice Department is likely to release two devastating reports on the Bush administration this fall or earlier. Worse, we might also learn that Justice’s Inspector General has sought either a criminal probe of some officials or even a special prosecutor. (The Inspector General does not have prosecutorial powers.)

Add to that a potential prosecution of Bradley Schlozman, or more disclosures about what the federal grand jury probing Schlozman has been uncovering, and the political damage could reach a crescendo.

At that point, even if the motives of the Bush administration in being unyielding in its executive privilege claims are indeed only because of what they view to be a high minded defense of constitutional principles (Judge Bates’ opinion aside), the politics of continuing to do so might prove not only to be harmful to John McCain’s presidency, but devastating to the Repubican House and Senate candidates in the fall.

The continuous claims of executive privilege– whatever the motive for them being invoked– are going to appear more and more to the pubic part and parcel of a cover up. That is inevitable as the U.S. attorney report becomes public, and the report on the politicization of the Civil Rights Division is made public, as well as whatever else is learned about these issues through leaks from the federal grand jury, and whatever else is uncovered by the House Judiciary Committee and folks like Josh Marshall.


Right now, the executive privilege debate has been relegated to the back pages of newspapers and it might appear to be smart politics to stand tough in the face of congressional subpoenas.

But either in the fall or before, all of that is almost certain to dramatically change.

And claims of executive privilege by the President of the United States to disallow his top aides to testify on Capitol Hill could prove devastating to his own political party. Republican House and Senate candidates are no doubt going to be damaged by the executive privilege claims becoming a front and center issue just prior to the election.

In the end, the President’s continuing claim of executive privilege– whether made for high minded reasons of constitutional law, obstinacy, or for political calculation– could prove to be a last unwanted legacy that George Bush leaves behind for his own political party.

I absolutely agree that BushCo’s desperate clinging to unsupportable claims of executive privilege and absolute immunity is a tacit admission of guilt, but whether or not it affects this year’s elections hinges on at least three things:

1) Will the media report the reports?  And I mean on the front page and on TV, not just on page A22.

2) Have the voters become so jaded to Bush administration scandals that they just shrug and say, “Great, another one.  Just throw it on the pile”?

3) Can/will the Democrats successfully tie the Republican candidates to the Bush administration?  Trashing Dubya’s reputation is all well and good, but it won’t be very helpful if they allow Republican candidates – and the GOP brand in general – to back away from his criminality.

Frankly, I’m not hopeful.  But more than willing to be pleasantly surprised…

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Elections,Politics,Republicans

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