Refuting Karl Rove's talking points

Only five of almost 500 attorneys have been fired midterm in the last 25 years. Can we stop saying what Bush did is just what every president does?

Published March 23, 2007 4:33PM (EDT)

Am I the only one who thinks this fact in Sidney Blumenthal's excellent column about the U.S. attorneys scandal has been enormously under-covered? He quoted a Congressional Research Service study (PDF) showing that between 1981 and 2006, only five of 486 U.S. attorneys who served in those 25 years have been fired before their terms expired, one of them for biting a stripper.

I've been following this Bush scandal as closely as anyone can, given the other Bush scandals flaring around the world, but I hadn't seen that anywhere until I read Blumenthal's column Wednesday night (having looked around today, I see it in a few papers and of course at Think Progress.) And when I tossed it out on MSNBC's "Scarborough Country" on Thursday, it had an explosive impact: Pat Buchanan said to me, "OK, Joan, you've made your point." Buchanan conceding one of my points happens even less frequently than a U.S. attorney being fired in midterm.

Actually, Buchanan and I agree more than you'd expect, because he's been mostly right about the Iraq war. But he's incredibly wrong about the U.S. attorneys scandal, arguing that Bush should protect executive privilege at all costs. Of course that's what a good Nixon White House veteran has to say, so we've been slugging it out the last two nights about that. (There is apparently no way to link directly to MSNBC video segments, but you can find both segments here on the "Scarborough Country" home page.)

One reason I wanted a blog was to have the last word on nights they don't give it to me, and I have been irritated with myself for not correcting one of Buchanan's talking points, which comes directly from Karl Rove himself: that Carol Lam was fired not for prosecuting Rep. Randy Cunningham or investigating the CIA's Dusty Foggo or Rep. Jerry Lewis, but because she wasn't aggressive enough on illegal immigration matters. In fact, the Justice Department commended Lam last year for her work on immigration matters in a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and noted that half her staff was involved in immigration-related cases. I'll tell Buchanan that personally if I get a chance next week, but until then, I didn't think that particular Lam slur should go unchallenged.

By Joan Walsh

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Karl Rove