Maybe I’m Just Stupid

I’ve been a bit slow on the uptake lately, so somebody ‘splain it to me, Lucy. 

House Republicans today walked out of the chamber en masse to protest the Democratic leaders’ refusal to revisit an update of the nation’s domestic wiretapping rules before the current law expires at midnight tomorrow.

Minority Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio led the walkout, saying Democrats were playing political games by calling a vote on contempt charges against White House chief of staff Josh Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers in the 2006 firing of U.S. attorneys.

While I may not agree with wiretapping in general, I can certainly understand the gesture of the Republicans’ solidarity, and their attempt to emphasize how important the law is to them. 

However.  However. . .

Americans had to sit back and listen interminably to stories about Bill Clinton’s personal and private proclivities–in detail–thanks to a special prosecutor appointed by Congress who examined everything but the (then-current) President’s belly-button lint.  So would someone kindly please explain to me how that Congress could MAKE the President testify about that shit under oath, but the current Congress seems to have the authority of last year’s toenail clippings? 

The White House says the roles of Mr. Bolten and Ms. Miers in the attorney firings are protected under executive privilege. Democrats disagree, sayings the president is constitutionally bound to allow the two to testify as party of a Congressional inquiry.

The White House said the Justice Department will not ask the U.S. Attorney to pursue the House contempt charge.

And if it was that simple, why the hell did Bill Clinton comply in the first place? 

Someone had damned well better be taking notes.

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5 thoughts on “Maybe I’m Just Stupid

  1. Well, as I understand it, this resolution, should it pass, will give Congress the power to go outside of the DOJ and compel the testimony in civil court.

    I’m not sure I understand it either, but this was what Pelosi said on NPR. I was far more interested in the slice-of-life report that had confirmed Republicans in Wisconsin voting Democrat this year because, as one old white guy put it, “The Republicans have screwed pretty much everything up.”

    I’m hoping Hilzoy over at Obsidian Wings offers up some sort of explanation.

  2. The Republican Congress allowed the independent counsel law to expire in 1999.

    So, Congress does not have the authority to go directly to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals and ask for an IC anymore. Moreover, Bush has said he would veto any Democratic attempt to resurrect the IC statute.

    The only way to get a “special prosecutor” nowadays is through the Attorney General. But even that isn’t really an independent counsel per se because he/she would not be particularly “independent.” The Attorney General could appoint and dimiss this person at-will.

  3. Thanks John for clearing that up. I now understand what Pelosi was saying. Still not sure how I feel about it. An independent counsel managed to get us into a whole heap of bog down in the late 90s.

  4. I haven’t seen an independent counsel ever serve it’s actual purpose or end up prosecuting people for what they were formed over. As I hear it IC are tremendously dangerous which hunts that answer to no one and have unlimited budgets. Seems foolish and reckless all rolled up together.

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