The grand showdown between the Dems upset at Bush's illegal wiretapping fizzled out as soon as Arlen Specter -- the two-faced Bush go-fer of the GOP -- not only ruled that Gonzales didn't have to testify under oath, he pretended -- as scripted -- to prohibit the Attorney General of the United States from doing what most Americans are required to do in a Court of Law or before Congress (unless they are from the White House or CEOs of big oil companies).
It was at that point, once again, that the Democrats became merely bit players in a script once again written by the White House. For many years, and most recently in several editorials, BuzzFlash has lamented that the Dems don't understand that these hearings are soap operas -- and that the Bush/Rovian propaganda staff writes very effective soap opera scripts.
In this case, the goal of the soap opera was to allow Gonzales not to testify under oath, so that he wouldn't be likely to be charged with perjury. After that point, everything else just became a big muddle. And, the White House knows, in a situation like this, they win if the hearing turns out to be inconclusive and stalemated.
We had to laugh through our tears for democracy when Arlen Specter boasted that he was the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and no Attorney General was going to decide for himself to testify under oath, as Gonzales pretended that he wanted to be sworn in (but, of course, knew in advance that it would never happen, so he could lie with impunity). Oh, my Lord, you couldn't get hack Hollywood scriptwriters to do a better job!
But, as we've always said, between the Coasts, Americans believe what they see. And, once again, you had the appearance of an earnest man claiming he wanted to testify under oath because it wouldn't change what he would say.
At that moment, the Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee should have taken charge of the scriptwriting and left the room in protest after ranking member Senator Patrick Leahy made the following statement:
"Mr. Chairman, if we ask athletes who testify about steroid use to be sworn in, if we ask citizens in courtrooms around this land to be sworn in, if we ask civil servants who testify before Congress to be sworn in, we surely think that it is unacceptable that the Attorney General of the United States cannot provide testimony under oath.
"I was a prosecutor and I would ask no less of the highest law enforcement official in the land than I would of someone who enters an American courtroom.
"There is no reason to hold a hearing if the Attorney General of the United States won't do what we ask of our citizens, which is to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth -- and be subject to legal jeopardy if he does not."
But what happened? The Democrats decided to go along to get along - again - and the Republicans gained the upper hand - again.
Here's an "afternote" from BuzzFlash:
Why should anyone have to testify under oath in a United States court room when the Attorney General of the United States won't? And the President and Vice-President wouldn't before the 9/11 Commission (when Bush wouldn't even talk with them without Dick Cheney by his side)? And Condoleezza Rice wouldn't be sworn in before the 9/11 Commission?
Oh, we could go on, but we won't. The Bush Administration knows that once they have to tell the truth, their goose is cooked.
Who's going to hold them accountable if the opposition party won't? But silly me. We don't have a bona fide opposition party. We have the spineless Democrats.