Congressional Hearings Aren’t Only for Presidential Blowjobs

As the current political battle over the fired U.S. attorneys reveals, the operating philosophy of many diehard conservative Republicans is “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Tony Snow, the former Fox News commentator who now serves as President Bush’s press secretary, today angrily defended his boss’ offer to let key White House staffers involved in the firing scandal speak to members of Congress, but only in private, not under oath and with no recording or transcriptions allowed. Snow appeared on The Early Show on CBS this morning to spin the White House’s position, which basically involves Bush trying to extend executive privilege to his staffers.

Bush is adamantly opposed to congressional requests for public testimony under oath, Snow said. Referring to lawmakers, he added, “What they’re not going to get is the ability to create a show trial atmosphere because, you know what, people are tired of that.”

This is the same Tony Snow, of course, who as a journalist during the Monica Lewinsky scandal in 1998 wrote that President Clinton should be forthcoming about details and not invoke executive privilege. At the time, Snow wrote in The Detroit News, “Most of us want no part of a president who is cynical enough to use the majesty of his office to evade the one thing he is sworn to uphold — the law.”

Because of Republican lawmakers at the time and their fellow travelers in the media like Snow, the American people got a “show trial” nine years ago in the form of impeachment proceedings based on Clinton apparently perjuring himself to avoid disclosing an extramarital affair. The effort distracted the federal government’s work for almost a year.

Snow’s stance seems to be that it’s OK for Congress to use open hearings for conducting inquiries into personal misconduct but not into possible abuses of power for political gain.

Snow, a Cincinnati native who is a graduate of Princeton High School in Sharonville, has to toe the Bush line in his new job. Still, it would be much more honest for him to say that although he might personally disagree with Bush’s offer, the president believes it’s the best course of action and he has to follow orders. Instead, we’re treated to Snow’s painful verbal gymnastics.

The growing scandal over the firings already is putting a crimp in Snow’s plans. He was scheduled to return to his hometown next week to be the keynote speaker at the annual fundraising dinner for Citizens for Community Values. With the situation spiraling into a frenzy in Washington, however, Snow has been replaced by Janet Parshall, a radio talk show hostess and author.

— Kevin Osborne

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