Following up on Julia Dahl's earlier post about the House Judiciary Committee's vote to hold Harriet Miers and Joshua Bolton in contempt today, there is one point that can't be emphasized enough: the Republicans know very well that this administration is the one actually holding the Congress in contempt but they have sold themselves to the devil for six long years and can't figure out how to wriggle out of that deal. The Bush administration has treated them with utter disdain for years. It's been a pathetic display on the part of the supine GOP especially, and none more pathetic than the useless mewling today from this ex-house manager:
"I believe this is an unnecessary provocation of a constitutional crisis,' said Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., R-Wis., "Absent showing that a crime was committed in this process, I think the White House is going to win an argument in court."
Sensenbrenner, the Judiciary panel's former chairman, said lawmakers would have a better chance by filing a lawsuit that challenged Bush's executive privilege claim, rather than pursuing contempt charges."
As Greenwald points out here the Republicans' newfound reverence for executive privilege is very moving but more than a little bit odd considering their vociferous objections to it less than a decade ago.
This will be an interesting battle. History shows that broad claims of executive privilege have a bad track record overall in the courts, particularly when it comes to non-national security issues. It's why most presidents choose not to test it any further and will either throw somebody overboard or make a deal when they get into this kind of a jam. But the Bush administration is sui generis and treat executive prerogatives as if they were ordained by God. It's hard to imagine any other administration would go to the mat for Karl Rove's meddling in the business of U.S. Attorneys, but then no other administration has so much to cover up that any breach in the wall is likely to bring the whole thing tumbling down. By being willing to test the executive privilege theories in court, Bush and Cheney are proving that they care little for the Unitary Executive Theory for anyone but themselves. Congressional Republicans and GOP presidential aspirants alike should be asking themselves why they are throwing themselves on their swords for such a pair of self-serving lame ducks.