November 07, 2003

talk to the hand

it appears that the white house is tired of all those annoying things like oversight:

The Bush White House, irritated by pesky questions from congressional Democrats about how the administration is using taxpayer money, has developed an efficient solution: It will not entertain any more questions from opposition lawmakers.

The decision -- one that Democrats and scholars said is highly unusual -- was announced in an e-mail sent Wednesday to the staff of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. House committee Democrats had just asked for information about how much the White House spent making and installing the "Mission Accomplished" banner for President Bush's May 1 speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.

The director of the White House Office of Administration, Timothy A. Campen, sent an e-mail titled "congressional questions" to majority and minority staff on the House and Senate Appropriations panels. Expressing "the need to add a bit of structure to the Q&A process," he wrote: "Given the increase in the number and types of requests we are beginning to receive from the House and Senate, and in deference to the various committee chairmen and our desire to better coordinate these requests, I am asking that all requests for information and materials be coordinated through the committee chairmen and be put in writing from the committee."

wow. normally milbank doesn't get that snippy in the first graf, but i'm sure that some of his frustration had to come out somewhere since i'm sure he knows what it's like to get the runaround from the white house when you'd like some answers. this is, after all, just another way that bush is changing the political culture of washington. remember that line back from the 2000

oh, and by the way, since republicans control the house and senate, all of those committee chairmen have big fat r's next to their names. imagine that.

and from a little later in the article, this little tidbit:

Norman Ornstein, a congressional specialist at the American Enterprise Institute, agreed. "I have not heard of anything like that happening before," he said. "This is obviously an excuse to avoid providing information about some of the things the Democrats are asking for."

and aei isn't exactly a liberal thinktank. apparently, the email also implies that this policy could be used for other committees, although right now it concerns only how tax dollars are appropriated -- and no one cares about that.

sure, the administration denies that it's trying to suppress questions from the democrats, but that's in effect what the policy does. oversight should never be a partisan issue, and strangling the ability of the opposition party to ask questions (hello, that's why they're the opposition party) is ludicrous.

whatever you may think of the 'mission accomplished' minor fiasco, stunts like this keep pointing to the same story: that bush is unwilling and unable to be accountable for anything he does.

of course, there's a bright side: if they can't ask any questions, then no one has to lie.

Posted by kilgore at November 7, 2003 07:36 PM | TrackBack
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