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The Purgegate Primer

The Purgegate Primer, providing a synopsis of the U.S. Attorney scandal, is online at The Morning News. Thanks to everyone who provided questions.

Posted on April 02, 2007 to Elsewhere


Ronald Reagan fired all sitting U.S. attorneys when he took office in 1981 and Bill Clinton did the same.

And the difference is???

I'm no dubbya fan but this is a non-story.

Posted by: Ryan on April 2, 2007 8:44 AM

Someone didn't read all the way to the bottom.

Posted by: Matthew on April 2, 2007 8:46 AM

Very nice write up and, at least in my mind, very "fair and balanced" to borrow a phrase.

Posted by: Twench on April 2, 2007 8:47 AM

Very nice summary and collection of links, Matthew. Thanks for putting in the work.

Posted by: bjkeefe on April 2, 2007 8:51 AM

Ryan hasn't been reading closely enough but his regurgitating the spin others have been selling. Also, 3 question marks are non-grammatical.

tmn seems is, for the first time ever, hanging - both, from this link and for the home page. I've been waiting on this since Friday and now I'm still waiting. :o(

Thanks for all the work though!

Posted by: ~A on April 2, 2007 9:19 AM

Nicely done. You kept it short, yet you managed to cover the major points.

Posted by: YoBimbo on April 2, 2007 9:52 AM

Nice job! One possible nitpick, though: I'm pretty sure the phrase "Mistakes were made" dates back to the Iran-Contra scandal under Reagan, not Watergate. I remember it being described as a novel way to avoid direct culpability, rather than as a signal that Reagan's scandal had crossed the line into Watergate territory.

Posted by: Brachinus on April 2, 2007 10:28 AM

TMN isn't coming up for me either, didn't read the article...I'm just tired of the "story". I was a Clinton fan myself and when he did it and the GOP raised hell I rolled my eyes then too.

It's like trying to sell a story that the incoming First Lady redecorated a room...ooooh shocking.

Can't Anna Nicole die again or something so the media has a new shiny object to chase?

Posted by: Ryan on April 2, 2007 10:45 AM

I very sincerely thought TMN was down because of increased traffic to the site due to your primer.

I'm a fan.

...and I really want to read this thing (partly to support arguments I've made with my Admin. Defender friend I've labeled, "Mr. But But But!")

Posted by: ~A on April 2, 2007 11:48 AM

Ok I just read it...I'll admit it was a little less left than I had anticipated. Still a non-story. And nothing Gonzales should resign over.

What Gonzales SHOULD resign over is the part and parcel sale of our legal system to the Mexican government (Border Patrol Agents Ramos and Compean).

What Bush SHOULD be impeached for is dereliction of duty. When the president signs a bill and states that he has grave concerns of the constitutionality of the bill (campaign reform bill a ways back), he's abandoning his oath of office.

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Posted by: Ryan on April 2, 2007 1:21 PM

This is an excellent write-up. I think you did a really helpful thing with your round-up of Purgegate.

Posted by: Her Ladyship on April 2, 2007 1:50 PM

A couple of things jumped out at me:

If McNulty had simply said that, and if everyone else in the Administration had stuck to the script, it is unlikely that this story ever would have gotten legs.

That is kinda scary. Is it only obvious to me that the Bush objective of the firings was to keep DAs from prosecuting Republican corruption, i.e., from being unbiased officers of the court?

Ultimately, though, it is a false distinction. U.S. Attorneys are political appointees, and the idea that any aspect of their service (hiring, duties, firing) would remain untainted by politics is naive.

Well ... same thing. If firings are "tainted by politics" is a thin veil for obstruction the pursuit of justice, then I sorta wonder what we have a dept. of justice at all. Oh yeah, to interdict marijuana.

Posted by: WeeDram on April 2, 2007 7:21 PM

Clear and concise. Thanks! I'll pass it along so we can get on with the fear and loathing. One follow up though; so, who was "indefinitely" appointed to replace them?

Posted by: MrFares on April 2, 2007 7:27 PM

Thank you. I appreciate this very much.

Posted by: Dawn on April 2, 2007 8:09 PM

I'm definitely putting a link up to this for my readers. This makes everything clear as day for me. I'd ask that you keep those of us who are politically stunted up to date on a semi regular basis. That'd be super.

One issue with your article, though. Wolverine would so win in the fight. I don't even feel that's debatable.

Posted by: John on April 2, 2007 10:40 PM

thank you for making this! i'll admit i was totally lost on why it was such a big deal until i read the primer.

Posted by: geeky on April 3, 2007 6:35 AM

Thank you so much for that!
I was confused about things I didn't even know I was confused about.

Posted by: el on April 3, 2007 9:46 AM

While it's true that the appointments themselves are political and raise no eyebrows, once in office, the US attorneys are enjoined to be impartial in their practice and their execution of justice. Think of US attorneys as DAs or prosecutors--and then look at the stories again.

(Huge, extended comment removed from here and posted on my own site.)

Posted by: Dorothy on April 3, 2007 10:12 AM

Great primer. The timeline was immensely helpful. You're a star!

Now that I'm caught up, I'll have to tune in to CSPAN for the Gonazales testimony.

Posted by: Mickey on April 3, 2007 1:52 PM

Good job though I, too, wanted a bit more about the replacement attorneys. That is, for the site; I've looked them up elsewhere. Here: ...well, I don't have the link for the list and bios here (at work) but this little tidbit on one of them is pretty terrific. (Where "terrific" = "sad, so so sad")

Also, ePluribusMedia.org had a nice summary of things Jan. but your is definitely better organized and informative; thanks again.

And, Ryan, I really don't get how this is a non-story since it further reveals how this administration operates and demonstrates once again the way in which they hide and dismiss - and they're finally paying the price for these things. To me this shows the American people yet another example of why this admin is so reviled and how they've been bad for the country and discourse. But that's just how I see it.

Posted by: ~A on April 3, 2007 2:25 PM

Great primer, it was nice to read a decent explanation of the situation.

This strikes me as similar to the Iraq debacle in that it isn't so much what Bush did (firing U.S. Attorneys/removing Saddamm from power) but how he did it. (mid term, with clear partisan links/using flimsy evidence and poor planning).

Posted by: Nathan on April 3, 2007 8:22 PM

My first reaction is similar to John. Wolverine will win for sure, so the analogy fails.

Posted by: latria on April 4, 2007 12:52 AM

The breaking story is really Superherogate.

Sure, if you put Wolverine and Batman in the Octagon then Bats wouldn't stand a chance. Change the environment and consider Batman's gadgets though.

Remember: if Wolverine can't reach his enemy, his claws are essentially useless. (See any Wolverine vs. Magneto fight.) And if anyone can figure out how to maximize advantages it's the World's Greatest Detective.

Posted by: Shawn on April 4, 2007 7:52 AM

~A - It's a non-story because...it's legal, shady, irresponsible and underhanded. Exactly what you expect from a White House...any White House. It's not unexpected.

Posted by: Ryan on April 4, 2007 9:32 AM

Thanks Matthew.

I guess television news is tuned to showcase certain types of stories.

If the stories get too complicated, it is probably wise to abandon the television coverage and seek written news, either in print or online.

It seems like you COULD properly showcase a complicated story like this one on the radio, but it would be tough.

Posted by: Rob Cockerham on April 4, 2007 10:19 AM

Excellent synopsis Matthew, very clear and concise. And, I think, shows the political and legal questions raised by this debacle. Wow, I sound like my high school English teacher.
I was stuck by how much you can take the "either you were involved and have to answer for it, or you weren't involved and have been derelict in your duties" argument apply to so very many things from this administration.

As for all these comments, I do have to agree with Ryan on the point that something irresponsible and underhanded is expected from the White House no matter whom happens to run things. Additionally, I think this is just the easiest proxy Democrats can use to try to paint this administration as abusing it's power. Everyone sympathizes with somebody else getting the sack.

And Batman would so win in a fight. He'd totally be prepared thirteen ways past Tuesday for Wolverine. So much so that the mutant wouldn't even see the Dark Knight coming. Superman had even described Batman as the "most dangerous person on the planet." Logan's totally, completely, universally out-classed.

Posted by: mindar76 on April 5, 2007 6:57 PM

In a time when important issues are at stake, I will not remain silent and allow untruths and propaganda to go unanswered!!

I was 14 when the Daredevil 168-181 cycle was coming out, once every *two* months. I will always love Frank Miller. But, look: Miller's comprehensive makeover of Batman from "caped detective" to "Superman-crushing ultimate superhero" involved an awful lot of license. It's fun to read these Dark Knight stories where he's the still point of the turning world, but come on, already--I don't care how crackerjack his team is, or how many elderly superheroes he recruits to help him, the Son of Krypton can hurl aircraft carriers. He has laser eyes. His scream levels mountains. Game, Set, Match.

Which brings us to Wolverine vs. Batman. I'm not certain Wolverine would win, but you certainly can't count him out. The Batman fetishists are assuming he's got time to indulge in one of those time-consuming super-Bat-plans, say, knock out Logan with anti-Canadian sleeping gas and have those irritating teenager helpers of his transport the unconscious Logan to the Blue Area of the Moon where Batman has positioned a perfect robotic simulation of Kitty Pride packed with 100 pounds of adamantium-melting high explosive. Fine, sure. But lock them in a room together and I guarantee Wolverine is the only one who walks out.

Here's the tale of the tape:
Toughness: Even
Claws: Advantage Wolverine
Adamantium-laced skeleton: Advantage Wolverine
Mutant regeneration: Advantage Wolverine
Brains: Advantage Batman
Guile: Even
Wealth: Advantage Batman
Craziness: Even

So who wins? I guess it depends on the terrain.

Posted by: Adam on April 8, 2007 9:54 PM