In today's L.A. Times, Jonah Goldberg discusses the "redemption" of John Ashcroft and fantasizes that the same image rehab may one day happen for George Bush. Talk about your Extreme Make-Over!
I'll save the discussion of the validity of Ashcroft's "hero" status for another day -- although it speaks volumes about the extent the Bush administration has defined deviancy downward that acting to protect the Constitution instead of undermining it is seen as a heroic act of courage, and a sign of remarkable integrity.
The problem with Goldberg's piece is that it shifts the focus away from where it should be: finding out who sent Vito and Big Pussy -- I mean, Alberto Gonzales and Andy Card -- to Ashcroft's sick bed to try to pressure him into reauthorizing aspects of the NSA wiretap program the acting Attorney General didn't think were legal.Was it the president? James Comey, the former acting AG in question, testified that Bush called Ashcroft's wife to get Vito and Pussy -- sorry, Gonzales and Card -- into the ICU. So he was clearly in on the plan -- if not leading the plan -- to maneuver around the Comey roadblock by trying to get a deathly-ill man to sign off on his spy program. When NBC's Kelly O'Donnell asked the president last week if he'd authorized the high-ranking goon squading of Ashcroft, he refused to answer the question. Twice. Isn't that something Congress should be looking into?
Sure, a vote of no confidence against Gonzales is richly deserved. Hell, the impeachment of Gonzalez is richly deserved. But the real story is whether the president actively flouted the law and the Constitution in order to keep the more damning aspects of the NSA program under wraps. Aspects that remain hidden to this day.
So let's not get distracted by the rehab of John Ashcroft -- or even by the well-deserved lionization of James Comey. Let's keep the spotlight on the White House -- and keep up a drumbeat about the need for Congress to quickly bring in Vito and Pussy -- damn, Gonzales and Card -- and ask them: who in this imperial, out of control, and lawless administration sent you to put the squeeze on Ashcroft?
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