Saturday, October 15, 2005

Overstating the Case

The Washington Post reported in a story by Jim VandeHei and Peter Baker, the following: “A series of scandals involving some of the most powerful Republicans in Washington have converged to disrupt President Bush's agenda….” They went on to mention issues involving presidential advisor Karl Rove, Senator Bill Frist, Representative Tom DeLay and the Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, as if these four people are guilty of some impropriety.

Reporters VandeHei and Baker could barely contain their glee at the opportunity to cast the Bush administration in a bad light, even if they have to play fast and loose with facts to do so.

Let’s not forget that to date, neither Mr. Rove nor Sen. Frist have been charged with a crime, let alone tried and convicted of criminal activity. Exactly how the nomination of a Supreme Court Justice is scandalous, the Post story did not say.

And we should also remember that although Mr. DeLay has been indicted, he has not been convicted, and there is more than a little evidence that his indictment is politically motivated. In fact, the first indictment against Mr. DeLay, which took a couple of tries before multiple Grand Juries before one of them issued an indictment, was flawed. The law that Democrat Prosecutor Ronnie Earle told the grand jury that Mr. DeLay broke was not a law when Mr. Earle alleged Mr. DeLay broke it. Consequently, Mr. Earle had to approach yet another grand jury to pass a replacement indictment, and reports said this task was accomplished with unusual speed. Presenting multiple grand juries with information in an attempt to get one of them to issue an indictment is referred to as “forum shopping.”

So far, what we have is merely a series of questions, insinuations and accusations, not scandals. An accusation is proof of nothing. An indictment is a bit more than an accusation, but not much more. The New York Daily News reported in 1985 that “in a bid to make prosecutors more accountable for their actions, [New York] Chief Judge Sol Wachtler has proposed that the state scrap the grand jury system of bringing criminal indictments … [because] district attorneys now have so much influence on grand juries that ‘by and large’ they could get them to ‘indict a ham sandwich.’” What it all boils down to is that the grand jury gets only the prosecutor's side, and a prosecutor can say anything to a grand jury. There is no rebuttal of the prosecutor’s allegations.

Certainly a real scandal ought to have real wrongdoing, shouldn’t it? And maybe there ought to be a little proof of wrongdoing before we start slinging labels like “scandal” around. We don’t know for certain if any wrongdoing has taken place, yet the Post sees scandals everywhere, even in the nomination for Justice of the Supreme Court.

Curiously, if all it takes for the Post to label something a scandal is the thin case it made in this story, surely the behavior of Prosecutor Ronnie Earle also qualifies. Yet, there is no mention of that “scandal.”

Irresponsible reporting such as this has earned the Post its well-deserved reputation for biased reporting, and for being in the pocket of the liberal Left.

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Unknown said...

"And we should also remember that although Mr. DeLay has been indicted, he has not been convicted, and there is more than a little evidence that his indictment is politically motivated."

*chokes on food again* hehehehe After 1998... The mention of politically motivated indictment... is a soft whisper in a Hurricane Katrina.

I cannot see justifying ANY government rep's behavior. If what they do (while in office) is morally wrong or legally criminal.

That is, if people abuse the power granted to them by the people, that power should be taken away... and they should view the world through bars.

Our country is potentially much too great for such hypocrisy... especially when the perp is a part of the Moral Majority.

No excuses that I know...

Anonymous said...

Oh you poor little conservatives. Is the big bad media being mean to you again? THEN STOP BEING SUCH CORRUPT SCHMUCKS!

Okay, okay, you're right. Nothing has been proven in a court of law. But I have little sympathy for these people who put themselves in these situations.

Frist- shoulda divested himself from the hospital racket when he was elected and started overseeing legislation that affected, guess what, hospitals. That would have been upstanding thing to do- don't give your opponents the chance to exploit the appearance of impropriety. Did he get insider info and sell his stock? Maybe, maybe not. But he's where he is b/c of his big stupid head (and of course I'll say, what a shitty doctor- a heart surgeon who diagnosis a brain patient through years old video. Schmuck).

Delay- Maybe everything he did was technically leagal, but it is not good governance. Few men are as directly responsible for the disgusting partisanship that is tearing our country apart. Even if he's innocent of the charges, but they destroy his political career, this is one case where the ends justify the means. The man is a sinner.

Rove- pretty much the same as Delay.

Miers- well, you're right here. No "scandal." I'm convinced she's the one the conservatives want- a true ideologue. I only hope they don't come to realize it.

The Dems would do well to vote against w/ the hard right, even if it means having to have a show down w/ a conservative who has a paper trail. At least that person will base their decisions on the law. Miers will base them on WWJD (or at least what she thinks he'd do. Jesus would never vote Republican.)

James Shott said...

MMA, nothing you said negates the points I made, and nothing I said is contrary to what you have said. But you are guilty of the same errors the Post made: assuming guilt where none has been proven.

The “perp” you refer to, I presume, is Tom Delay. Of course, it is a gross mischaracterization to term him a perpetrator when he hasn’t been judged guilty of perpetrating any ethical or legal wrong at this point. Yeah, I know: He had his hand slapped by the Ethics Committee for skirting the boundaries. But that is like arresting a Mexican for illegally entering the U.S. because he walked along the border in Mexico. Boundaries are boundaries. Someone either crosses them, in which case they are guilty, or they don’t, in which case they aren’t guilty. If you think the boundaries should be adjusted, well that’s another matter entirely.

You may dislike like Mr. DeLay, but does not make him either unethical or a criminal.

James Shott said...

i e p, in what situation do you imagine any of these folks put themselves? Sen. Frist did what is commonly done in these situations; he put his stock in HCA in a blind trust. Why should he divest himself of a company he started just because he is a Senator? That’s ridiculous, and unfair. He’s not going to be in public office forever. Why, after he leaves public office, should he not have his company to return to when he’s just a citizen again?

Should a guy who owns a large farm or a pharmacy or a furniture store sell his business because he is elected to Congress, or the state legislature, or the town council? Or course not. By your standard, everyone who is elected to office should get rid of every business of which they are an owner, or every stock or bond in which they’ve invested. But if that becomes the standard, a lot of good people aren’t going to want to serve their country, state, county or community, any more, and we’ll be far worse off than we are now.

And just how far do you want to carry this? Should all elected officials sell their houses because they may have to address mortgage issues, or bankruptcies, or loan issues? What about their cars? Should they sell their cars and lease one while they are in office? But then they might have to consider legislation that affects the car leasing business. The broad application of the Commerce Clause that our activist Supreme Court now uses makes every conceivable business transaction a federal issue. Perhaps every elected official ought to neither own nor rent anything, so we’ll be sure they have no impure interests?

All that is required is that some action is taken that relieves any potential conflict of interest. That is the purpose of the blind trust. And if legislation comes before the Senate that presents a conflict, Sen. Frist ought to abstain from voting on it. Has anyone said that he didn’t? As I understand the issue, he did sell his stock, although he shouldn’t have had to, and now they are questioning the timing of it. And by the way, why do you term the hospital business a racket?

As for his quality as a doctor, he’s a pretty good cardiologist, and that doesn’t disqualify him from knowing a little about neurology, too.

So, DeLay and Rove are sinners? Why? What’s your basis for that remark? Is it a sin to be an effective legislator or politician? Probably so, if the person is effective against your side, eh?

At least we agree on the Harriet Miers thing. But I think you’re wrong on what conservatives want. Some probably want a Bible-following ideologue, but most want someone who will apply the Constitutional principles as they were intended by the framers. The rub comes from the Left, because if all the judges apply the intended principles, much of what the Left wants won’t be made into law by judges. That, of course, is proper. Laws are to be made by legislative bodies, not courts.

Is Harriet Miers qualified to sit on the Supreme Court? Absolutely. Is she the best possible choice? I don’t know. Will she change her judicial philosophy and become an activist, like Kennedy and Souter? Let’s hope not.

As for Jesus, I won’t speculate where he would come down on the issues facing us today. I suspect he’d be more conservative than you think. I doubt he would support abortion or homosexuality or gay marriage, but he might favor welfare.

Anonymous said...

It's refreshing to hear intelligent responses to my arguments (and sometimes tirades). I was posting to some other conservative sites and boy do they have some filthy mouths. I thought the nuts the write into DailyKos were bad, but add a healthy spoonful homophobia and you've got newsbusters

James Shott said...

Yes, the level of political discourse has indeed plunged into the gutter (sometimes). I'm like to debate ideas. I have mine, and you have yours. Sometimes we agree (occasionally!), but often we don't. I learn something each time I can have an intelligent exchange with someone who sees things differently.

I especially like that you and I can have differing opinions without losing civility.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Shott,
As a Virginian (you, not me) I'd be interested to hear your take on the Kilgore-Kaine add controversy that's brewed over the past week.