Patterico's Pontifications

3/22/2007

They Can Spin Anything

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:20 am



The Administration’s opponents can spin anything. Big Media admits that one of the fired U.S. Attorneys, Kevin Ryan, was plenty loyal, but just incompetent. The spin? His name was added to the list too late.

See, they can spin anything. This one was fired for prosecuting Republicans, that one for prosecuting Democrats — OK, we’l say the Democrats were prosecuted too slowly. This one wasn’t loyal to the Administration, but that one was — OK, we’ll say his name was added to the list too late.

Why won’t you have public hearings, President Bush? What are you afraid of?

My guess is: the spin.

18 Responses to “They Can Spin Anything”

  1. It’s not just that he was “added to the list too late”–also note that his previous classification on the list was “strong U.S. Attorneys who have produced, managed well, and exhibited loyalty to the President and Attorney General.” And if he was indeed “plenty loyal, but just incompetent”? Well, then that would be further evidence that the list was more about loyalty than competence. However, kudos to the administration for firing someone who might actually have been incompetent, whether or not that was DOJ’s reason for it at the time.

    Biff (c3722c)

  2. Dozens of times Clinton appointees went up to the Hill to testify under oath. Once again if Rove, Gonzales, Miers and haven’t done anything wrong what do they have to fear? Dragging this out just brings up comparisons with Nixon. Is that what Bush really
    wants to do? Or is it what he has to do?

    markg8 (ab0b56)

  3. You can spin anything, Patterico, if you ignore the significance of this.

    aplomb (4c3235)

  4. It’s not just that he was “added to the list too late”–also note that his previous classification on the list was “strong U.S. Attorneys who have produced, managed well, and exhibited loyalty to the President and Attorney General.”

    So you’ve never seen a manager who can BS his way through until everything falls apart? The management above him believes everything’s golden until that final straw — then they learn what his subordinates knew all along.

    Dunno if that’s the case here, but that takes fewer assumptions than the endless conspiracy theories.

    Robert Crawford (aa888e)

  5. And the subject matter is eye-glazing and self-obfuscating. So you can bury anything you want at the back end of the article, with the certain knowledge that only the first few paragraphs are ever read.

    Bush is mistaken to argue this thing on the merits. No one will ever notice the merits, one way or the other. The charge is “DID!” and the response should be “Did NOT!” Anything else just sounds like a confession.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  6. So you’ve never seen a manager who can BS his way through until everything falls apart? The management above him believes everything’s golden until that final straw — then they learn what his subordinates knew all along.

    And that’s also a good argument for actually conducting decent (performance-based!) performance reviews before making lists of people to keep and people to fire.

    Biff (c3722c)

  7. Well since the lst two posts follow links provided by me, I might as well follow though. TPM links to this:

    The quest by the Justice Department to replace weak U.S. attorneys long preceded Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, U.S. News has learned.

    In fact, early in 2004, David Ayres, chief of staff to Gonzales’s predecessor, John Ashcroft, began the process of evaluating U.S. attorneys, with the hopes of determining who were the “poorest” ones, “should we have an opportunity to make changes,” according to a former Justice Department official. At the time, Ashcroft believed he would be asked to stay through Bush’s second term

    Among other steps that he took, Ayres approached then Deputy Attorney General James Comey for his thoughts. Comey gave Ayres the same list of those whom he viewed as weak U.S. attorneys that he would give Gonzales’s Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson a year later. In principle, the former Justice official says, Comey was not opposed to removing incompetent people.

    However, Comey’s definition of incompetence turned out to be quite different from Sampson’s and had nothing to do with politics, says the former official. And the only one of the fired group Comey had identified as weak was Kevin Ryan, the U.S. attorney in San Francisco. But Sampson put Ryan on his list of top prosecutors.

    AF (f0c94f)

  8. Patterico, whereas Adminstration supporters have inferior spinning ability? The Adminstration is in political trouble because of its record not because Republican spin doctors are inferior to their Democratic counterparts.

    James B. Shearer (fc887e)

  9. Uh-oh, Tony Snow just reminded everyone that Congress can’t oversee the executive after all–let’s call the whole thing off!

    P.S. But of course the real danger here is the media spin.

    Biff (c3722c)

  10. The spin? His name was added to the list too late.

    Patterico,

    you take uncharacteristic liberties with your own spin here. The key to the TPM post was the application of pressure by a federal judge in medias res and the subsequent addition of Kevin Ryan to the axe list. Granted, the source materials on this are not in the post, but any ommission of that factor is really stretching it.

    To tuirn your question around, if you’re going to attack the post, then why not acknowledge what the post says? What are you afraid of? Seriously – as with the firings as a whole, it’s hardly indefensible to look critically at a government attorney at the behest of a federal judge. It’s just one circumstance that undercuts one line of defense.

    biwah (2dcf66)

  11. Dozens of times Clinton appointees went up to the Hill to testify under oath.

    The Bush-Cheney campaign made no secret they saw that procession of Clinton ass-coverers trooping down the Hill unseemly and unconstitional. They campaigned on restoring the separation of powers and the dignity of the Executive, dignity the Clintons squandered in an effort to cling to their jobs. They said right out they did not intend to be held to that precedent. And they have played it straight down the line that way.

    If the Donks want to play show trial rather than sit down and hash this out, then let’s see them prevail on the EP claim, which our host believes doomed. I don’t, but I do encourage the WH to require the Court to compel their testimony on the basis of the Constitution and not what the Clintons did to the Constitution.

    spongeworthy (45b30e)

  12. They campaigned on restoring the separation of powers and the dignity of the Executive

    …meaning what? That they would restore executive privilege, or be restrained in claiming executive privilege? What precedent are you referring to? We all know Clinton relied on EP, but so has Bush – so what is your point?

    biwah (2dcf66)

  13. Its about time Bush stood up. He doesn’t owe congress any explanation here. He has the right to hire and fire who the hell he pleases. You libs and Clinton didn’t catch hell when he fired all of his attorneys. Its just another example of leftist hypocrisy. So, get angry libs. SCREAM. Take Bush to court. In the end its not going to matter.

    Steve (ed8189)

  14. He has the right to hire and fire who the hell he pleases

    Within limits–which are set by Congress, who also has the right to fire him. FYI.

    Biff (c3722c)

  15. Look it’s conceivable that this strange fact, along with many, many other curious facts, could be simply incompetence and confusion mixed along with the fact that we STILL don’t have the full facts.

    Yet then why is there such an effort to avoid explaining what happened, and explaining it fully, publicly, and under oath? Just for fun and games?

    And Bush does not have the right to hire and fire any US attorney he pleases, Steve. If he did, then the entire integrity of the justice system would be lost. He could just fire any prosecutor prosecuting politically damaging cases.

    Just because he has a power doesn’t give him the right to use it. For example, Presidential pardons. Bill Clinton was fully within his legal rights to pardon Mark Rich (correct name?) but that didn’t make it right and not worth protesting.

    Skyler (c96d5e)

  16. Umm, looks like some backpedaling on the Dems forcing Bush’s hand on the subpoenas…says Raw Story

    Enlightened (af3db1)

  17. And then there’s this lovely item, which Andrew Sullivan featured in his blog:
    http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070321/NEWS08/703210440
    Make of that what you will.

    The smoking gun, if there is a smoking gun, would be a USA who performed even worse than the ones who were fired, but was retained–preferably with close political ties to the WH. I have no idea if such a one exists. But if one does, and it comes out that he/she was not fired, then sit back and watch the excrement impact the ventilation machine.

    kishnevi (da26af)

  18. In hindsight, the first incompetent at DoJ that should have been fired was Comey.

    Presidential appointees serve at the pleasure of the President and can be removed at any time for any reason, or no reason! —see:
    Saturday Night Massacre!

    The POLITICAL consequences might not be completely bearable, but the rule holds:
    If you are appointed by the President, he’s the one who can fire you (see scene near the conclusion of “Absent Malice” with Wilford Brimley as a Dep/Asst AG – I think his character explains it fairly well).

    Another Drew (8018ee)


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