Transparency and Integrity

Burning up memeorandum today is headline after headline about the newly released Interrim Report on the usage of RNC and Bush/Cheney 04 email accounts by White House officials.

The number of White House officials given RNC e-mail accounts is higher than previously disclosed. In March 2007, White House spokesperson Dana Perino said that only a “handful of officials” had RNC e-mail accounts. In later statements, her estimate rose to “50 over the course of the administration.” In fact, the Committee has learned from the RNC that at least 88 White House officials had RNC e-mail accounts. The officials with RNC e-mail accounts include Karl Rove, the President’s senior advisor; Andrew Card, the former White House Chief of Staff; Ken Mehlman, the former White House Director of Political Affairs; and many other officials in the Office of Political Affairs, the Office of Communications, and the Office of the Vice President.

88? That is one helluva handful, Mr. Perino. I don’t have particularly large hands, but I got long fingers, and I know that I couldn’t hold 88 in my hand.

But what’s the big deal, right? So these guys had RNC emails, big whoop. I got a work email account (actually three based on the sensitivity of the information I am emailing about), two gmail accounts (one for my personal usage, and the one you see off to the right where I answer your emails… hopefully in a timely manner), and an excite account that really only serves the purpose of collecting HUGE quantities of spam (note, if anyone wants ten nude pictures in their inbox daily, I’ll forward you a couple hundred emails from that account). Today, people have any number of email accounts, so no harm no foul.

Except when it comes to government work. When you’re dealing with department officials, we the people ask that you use official government emails for the most basic principle of transparency. It’s not like these emails are being subjected to an obsolete or whacky out of control law. As our government employed by us, it is their duty to conduct their work in a professional matter that does not include hiring and firing people based off of political allegiances, something that can be detected if officials are using the government provided email accounts like they are supposed to.

But this has apparently not been the case, and now Karl Rove has been wearing out his index finger deleting RNC emails as fast as he can. This of course is exactly the exact opposite of what is supposed to happen. If you email that you want to, oh I dunno, fire a handful of US Attorneys because they aren’t marching lock step to the Republican Party’s drumbeat, that email should be available for scrutiny so that we can prevent it from happening.

Firedoglake’s Christy Hardin Smith has another perspective on this:

As a prosecutor, the most valuable asset that you have in the courtroom and out of it is your reputation for honesty and integrity, and for upholding the rule of law in a fair and just manner. The Bush Administration tossed that aside for each and every decent attorney working in USAtty offices across this nation in a bid to gain some temporary political advantage is a craven example of how low a regard the Bushies have for any sort of standard of ethics. And how much emphasis they placed on loyalty to Bush Administration aims above all else, including to the nation as a whole.

Everything is subordinate to Rove’s math. Everything.

The Bush Administration has sullied the Department of Justice, and saddled USAttys nationwide with Rovian baggage every single time they step in a courtroom. They have treated the rule of law as if it were a “do you want fries with that” level of opt-in, and diverted every resource at their disposal toward the Rule of Karl.

Which is a sad thing to behold. We expect partisanship to a degree in congress and the White House. That’s the point of the two party system; you have two parties that represent opposing demographics, and they battle it out and compromise with each other so that we move forward in a way that does the will of the majority and protects the minority. This has been grotesquely magnified particularly under this administration, but working partisanship is the mark of a healthy democracy wherein things kinda balance out in the end. Not everyone is made happy, but at the very least we don’t fall victim to a totalitarian regime.

But the usage of these email accounts, and the way they were employed in reference to the DoJ flies in the face of this kind of partisanship. At once, Republican WH officials are not only committing foul after foul, they are undertaking deliberate steps to cover this up.

Of course, the conservative consensus will be to fight this whole ordeal tooth and nail, explain it away, minimalize it, and shout down the dissent of those like me who are speaking out about it. No doubt there will be those who will argue this like they argue for Libby’s pardon, that we’re playing attack politics, and that in the greater scheme of things it’s no big deal and doesn’t warrant the kind of attention it is getting.

But let me break this down for you nice and simple like. For my conservative friends, imagine this was a Democrat White House doing this? And that is in general the real litmus test when it comes to games of partisanship. If your party, or your team, undergoes something that has the other side of the aisle up in arms, before you go into defense mode, ask yourself how you would react if it was the other party doing it.

It’s Bush and Rove at the end of this electronic paper trail, so of course the wingnut apologists are going to come to their defense, but how would they, or you, behave if this was President Hillary Clinton or President Barack Obama using DNC emails and campaign emails to conduct business? Would you still be ready to apologize? I wouldn’t.

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