Friday, June 10, 2005

Scandal fatigue - Republican style

June 09, 2005
It's only Thursday
Posted 1:43 pm
The carpetbagger report
There was a point, in the late 1990s, when conservatives would frequently whine about "scandal fatigue." Every time they picked up the paper, they'd say, there'd be another controversy surrounding Clinton's White House. They insisted it was time to elect a Republican to help give the country a break after years of constant outrages.

Most of these so-called scandals were utterly void of any substance. Whitewater was meaningless, while investigations into Travelgate and Filegate were pointless. Nevertheless, by way of comparison, I'd like to point out what we've learned about the Bush White House — not since January 2001, but from just this week.

* The Bush White House let a former lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute re-write a government report on global warming, editing out scientific conclusions he didn't like.

* Bush's Interior Department offered to overpay a wealthy Republican donor for oil and gas rights on Everglades land that the government apparently already owns, overruling the advice of career officials.

* The Pentagon's inspector general released a report on a lucrative Air Force contract for Boeing that cost too much for planes the military didn't want. Bush, who has enjoyed generous campaign contributions from Boeing, was involved with the contract, personally asking White House aides to work out the deal and dispatching Chief of Staff Andrew Card to participate in the contract negotiations. When the inspector general's report came out, 45 sections were deleted by the White House counsel's office to obscure what several sources described as references to the Bush gang's involvement in the lease negotiations and its interaction with Boeing.

* Documents from the U.S. State Department published this week show that the president backed away from the Kyoto global warming treaty after being pressured by ExxonMobil, the world's most powerful oil company, and other industries.

* Bush officials at the Justice Department inexplicably decided to reduce its settle request with the tobacco industry from $130 billion to $10 billion, and urged government witnesses to soften their recommendations about sanctions.

Again, these stories were published just this week — and the week's not over yet. Just as importantly, this isn't a particularly unusual week by Bush standards.

Any one of these stories could prompt congressional hearings, investigations, and massive media attention. They won't, of course, but they could.

Clinton caused "scandal fatigue"? Right phrase, wrong president.