Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Every Man for Himself --- Bush administration discipline slips further.

SLATE.COM By John Dickerson

As George Bush's tenure winds down, he has started thinking about building his presidential library. Somewhere off the Mission Accomplished Atrium he should put a boxing ring. An administration that came into office boasting of exemplary teamwork looks like it's going to end in a hail of blame-placing, finger-pointing, and backbiting.

The Justice Department's White House liaison, Monica Goodling, has refused to testify before the judiciary committee because she is worried she'll be blamed for the controversy over the eight fired U.S. attorneys. Her lawyer explained in a press release that she would take the Fifth in part because one of her former bosses at the Justice Department was blaming his false testimony on her, claiming that Goodling "did not inform him of certain pertinent facts."


The finger-pointing over the U.S. attorney firings comes just a few weeks after a long display of it in the Scooter Libby trial. The defense portrayed the vice president's former chief of staff as the victim of a plot by his former colleagues to make him take the blame for outing a CIA agent. (Goodling mentioned the Libby example as the specter she fears; Democratic senators cited Libby when referring to Sampson's role.) Like the U.S. attorney scandal, Scooter Libby's trial was a forum for displaying years of bitter acrimony between different parts of the administration.

All administrations produce unhappy people in the second term. At the end of Bill Clinton's tenure, George Stephanopoulos and Robert Reich wrote memoirs that were unflattering to some of their former colleagues. The Bush team has already had such disgruntled types: Paul O'Neill, David Kuo, and Richard Clarke. What has changed at this point, though, "is that it feels like it's every man for himself," says one former senior administration official.......

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