debasing democracy

The Bush White House, irritated by pesky questions from congressional Democrats about how the administration is using taxpayer money, has developed an efficient solution: It will not entertain any more questions from opposition lawmakers.

The decision -- one that Democrats and scholars said is highly unusual -- was announced in an e-mail sent Wednesday to the staff of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. House committee Democrats had just asked for information about how much the White House spent making and installing the "Mission Accomplished" banner for President Bush's May 1 speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.
The director of the White House Office of Administration, Timothy A. Campen, sent an e-mail titled "congressional questions" to majority and minority staff on the House and Senate Appropriations panels. Expressing "the need to add a bit of structure to the Q&A process," he wrote: "Given the increase in the number and types of requests we are beginning to receive from the House and Senate, and in deference to the various committee chairmen and our desire to better coordinate these requests, I am asking that all requests for information and materials be coordinated through the committee chairmen and be put in writing from the committee."

The sad part is that many reasonable people who support Bush will simply nod their heads and think this is proper. Especially with the spin-attempt to make an analogy between the essential investigation into how this Administration falsified and politicized intelligence to make a public case for war, and the way in which intelligence secrecy factored into World War II. The analogy is false because in the latter case, the very existence of the intelligence was a secret - the Japanese and Germans did not even know we had broken their codes, and a public investigation into whether FDR allowed Pearl Harbor to happen would have revealed the existence of that secret. In the case of Iraq, the intellgience was widely advertised by the Administration itself - and it turned out to be lies.

This is the bottom line: the way in this policy violates the fundamental Constitutional requirements of separation of powers, checks and balances, and the very idea of a loyal opposition, is obscene. It is counter to the principle of accountable government. And it is exactly this kind of behavior that burns Bush's credibility, even if he is right on an issue (as with N. Korea, for example).

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