Just As I Thought

The Double Standard – deux

This excerpt from an op ed in the Washington Post by Mary McGrory touches on an annoyance I expressed earlier – that the Republicans seem to get away with outrages that the Democrats would have their feet held to the fire for.

The president is able to obey the yuletide admonition to “let nothing you dismay” in all this because he got just what he wanted for Christmas last Monday from a federal judge he appointed. Judge John D. Bates, in a decision that Dick Cheney himself might have written, said that it was none of the public’s business how public policy on energy was fashioned in secret sessions between Cheney and Enron bigwigs before they started going to jail.

The judge echoed words that Cheney used when refusing to turn over documents and information as requested in a suit brought by the General Accounting Office. Bates dismissed the suit — and the public’s right to know. Bates conceded that his decision “may seem overly protective of . . . the executive branch.” It certainly does in the light of his honor’s past.

When Bates was deputy to Kenneth Starr, Bill Clinton’s official tormentor, he definitely did not regard the White House as inviolate. He treated it like the public’s closet, to be entered at will and rifled for grist for the special prosecutor.

At one point he ordered the Clintons’ personal quarters to be tossed in a shelf-by-shelf and drawer-by-drawer search for a box of Vincent Foster’s — which never did turn up. Bates gave then-special White House counsel Jane Sherburne a choice — either the FBI or she must turn the Clintons’ family quarters inside out. A seething Sherburne, with an assistant and usher Gary Walters in tow, started the search through the Clintons’ belongings. All it turned up were dust balls under Chelsea’s bed.

Starr deputy Bates thought the Clintons’ private life was fair game. But now he says the formulation of official policy is off-limits to the public.

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