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Monday, November 5, 2007

Republicans Under Fire?

An interesting editorial from that bastion of moderate thinking, the Mobile Press-Register.

The P-R's big point: With so many Republicans under investigation, the Bush Justice Department could not possibly be guilty of selective prosecution, of targeting Democrats for political reasons.

Our reply? Not so fast, fellas.

The P-R points to Alaska Senator Ted Stevens and California Representative Randy Cunningham as examples of Republicans who have been exposed by the Bush DOJ. But my research indicates the P-R has a pretty weak case.

The Stevens case started with allegations in the Alaska state legislature and was heavily covered by the state's press. Hard for the Bushies to ignore that. The Cunningham case was so blatant, and again drew heavy press coverage, so it was hard to sweep under the rug.

Plus, I don't know that anyone has ever argued that all Republicans received favored treatment. It's "loyal Bushies" and those who can protect the administration's interests who seem to be protected. A Republican in an otherwise blue state, or one who perhaps supported John McCain, probably is fair game. And as we saw in the aftermath of the Karl Rove resignation, many Republicans are just as nauseated by the Bush administration as Democrats are.

The Mobile editorial goes on to cite the Jack Abramoff case to show that Republicans such as Conrad Burns (Montana) and J.D. Hayworth (Arizona) have come under fire.

Again, the case is weak. We suggest the Mobilians read Scott Horton's reporting on Noel Hillman, former chief of the U.S. Public Integrity Section, and his efforts to minimize the damage from the Abramoff scandal. Strong evidence suggests that the Abramoff affair could have been far worse for many Republicans, especially red-staters such as Alabama Governor Bob Riley, if not for Hillman's crisis-management skills.

And finally, we strongly suggest the Mobilians read the work of University of Missouri professor Donald Shields, who testified recently at the U.S. House Judiciary Committee's hearing on selective prosecution. Shields said his review of 820 federal investigations from 2001 to 2007 showed that 80 percent targeted Democrats, while only 14 percent focused on Republicans and 6 percent on independents.

We repeat those numbers--80 percent Democrats, 14 percent Republicans.

Mobile, we have a problem. And we will return to the Shields study in a bit.

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