Power [yawn] play

And so the big newspapers, such as in this Grey Lady article, breathlessly anticipate a “Constutional showdown”, or perhaps “constitutional crisis”, to cover the latest inter-branch dance, in this case, the question of whether Senate Democrats are going to go forward and issue subpoenas to members of the Bush Administration (answer: yes), in particular, Karl “Bush’s Brain” Rove (answer: maybe, but that’s not how you bet). Subject: the ongoing U.S. Attorney firing fiasco. (The Senate, btw, voted 94-2 to repeal that portion of the USA Patriot Act giving the Attorney General the power to replace fired U.S. Attorneys without Senate confirmation.)
The President has graciously offered to allow “his people” (because, you know, just because they hold positions of supposed trust and cash Treasury Dept. checks covered by our tax dollars, the President’s staff are, you know, personal livery answerable only to him and not, you know, to anyone else) to “privately” talk to Congressional committee members, not under oath, or with any record made, or anything like that. And he’s vowed to “fight subpoenas in court” if Congress wants to do, you know, its job.
Assuming we weren’t some kind of a dictatorship [a somewhat dubious proposition; see “Padilla, Jose”; see also how vigorously the Supreme Court’s rulings in Rasul v. Bush and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld have been enforced and implemented], an honest court would immediately throw out any lawsuit attempting to quash or otherwise impede a Congressional subpoena, because how Congress choses to do its job is the purest of the pure political questions– a court should have no jurisdiction over such a question. Understand, of course, that the President and a Republican controlled Senate have packed the courts, particularly the District of Columbia district and circuit appellate courts, with ideological compatriots. Even still, for some judges, the law is actually the law as Congress said it, and not as the President wants them to make it up as they go along. OTOH, given the kind of bat-shit ideological and not legal rulings that have come out of the D.C. Circuit of late, I wouldn’t hold my breath. In the end, this may once again come down to Justice Stevens’ health, and just how tenuous Justice Kennedy’s integrity really is.
But we’ll see: can Bush tie this up for the 21 months and 29 days until he can get out of town? This Administration has proven again and again that in the area of an executive that refuses to comply with the law or the Constitution, an opposition party that is afraid of taking any kind of risks that might cost it votes and a press corps that is afraid of taking any kind of risks that might cost its members cocktail party invitations or that vaunted “access” or anything else that, heavens, might interfere with their careers (count the opposition party in that category too)… nothing is impossible. (Except, seemingly, any semblance of good government, fiscal integrity, non-reckless foreign policy, Karl Rove facing any kind of justice… )
At the end of the day, look for some kind of unsatisfying deal to be made; perhaps Laura Bush or Dick Cheney will have to go testify before Congress. The blessed St. Turdblossom… will somehow not. Just watch. We’ll see how this plays out. Somehow, I’m betting on bid’ness as usual. Don’t get me wrong: I can always be pleasantly surprised.
But somehow, with this Administration (and these Congressional leaders) it just about never happens.