Jewish World Review Feb. 1, 2002 / 19 Shevat, 5762
Debra J. Saunders
End the coverup
IN 1997, the Senate Government Affairs
Committee, chaired by Sen. Fred Thompson,
R-Tenn., held hearings to investigate the many
fund-raising abuses propagated by then-President
Clinton and Republicans during the 1996 elections.
In response to the investigation, the Clinton
administration released the names of those who
attended a long list of "coffees" and other
fund-raising- related events designed to keep the
Democratic National Committee and Clinton/Gore
in the money.
Now, Democrats in Congress are asking the Bush
administration to supply similar information. Toward
that end, the General Accounting Office has
requested the names of those who attended
meetings of the National Energy Policy
Development Group, commonly known as Vice
President Dick Cheney's energy task force.
Because Cheney isn't budging on turning over that
information, Comptroller General David Walker, a
former Reagan administration official, is preparing to
sue the White House.
The worst part about the Bushies' stonewalling --
unless they have something illegal to hide -- is that
it's bad politics.
The Bush administration could point out that there
were questions as to the legality of the Clinton
coffees, but not so with the Cheney task force.
Reps. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., and Henry A.
Waxman, D-L.A., have not charged that Cheney
may have broken the law. Dingell and Waxman
have sent the GAO on a political mission to answer
the embarrassing question: "What process did the
NEPDG use to develop the national energy policy?"
Cheney spokesperson Jennifer Millerwise said it's a
matter of principle, and "when you focus on the
principle, the politics will take care of itself."
Maybe in heaven, but not in Washington.
The Bush League should have learned from
Clintonia that trying to put off disclosure only
prolongs the pain. Instead of a couple of big stories
about the administration's embarrassing ties with
energy biggies such as Enron, the administration's
pucker approach results in one embarrassing
revelation after another. Witness yesterday's
Chronicle story about an April memo Enron
Chairman Ken Lay gave to Cheney as Lay lobbied
for energy policies favorable to Enron.
Defending the stonewalling, Cheney aide Mary
Matalin wrote in USA Today this week, "What's at
stake here is the ability of the president and vice
president to solicit advice from anybody they want
without having to make it public."
Ahem. That statement might make you think that if
Cheney doesn't resist, citizens might clam up when
the White House calls. But it's not potential advisers
that Cheney and company seek to protect.
Corporate suits aren't the ones who are afraid to
say that they wooed White House officials. It's the
White House that wants to keep the courtships
The worst of it is, by being coy, the White House
undermines its credibility in the one area where it
has a solid argument. The GAO's Walker says he
only wants to know "who met with whom, about
what, when, where and how much did it cost."
Actually, the GAO requested "minutes or notes."
That goes too far. The public is best served when
policymakers feel free to brainstorm, as opposed to
fearing that any comment might invite intense
scrutiny. But in August, Walker took back the
request for meeting minutes and notes "as a matter
of comity." He still wants names and dates,
The public had a right to know that Clintonia was
holding big-money events at the White House and
with whom. By the same token, voters have a right
to know to whom the White House turns when a
task force with 10 Cabinet-rank members works on
That's why Sen. Thompson told CNN, "Let's get
everything out and get it over with."
Fair is fair, and openness is not the duty of one
If the answer to the GAO's request for names is
embarrassing, the reply should not be a coverup.
The correct response is a change in
Comment JWR contributor Debra J. Saunders's column by clicking here.
01/30/02: Try this for "troubling"
01/25/02: Camp X-ray or Club Med?
01/23/02: Let's stop the deluge of porn e-mail
01/21/02: No 'Little Boy Lost'
01/16/02: Son of Supercar
01/12/02: Beware the European view of the death penalty
01/09/02: Other people's children
01/07/02: It doesn't fly
01/03/02: Going from the Atlantic City Boardwalk to Berkeley
12/31/01: In America, punishment should fit the crime
12/28/01: What I'd like to see in 2002
12/24/01: Don't heckle ink monopolists
12/21/01: Mumia finds safety in numbers
12/19/01 The self-help PBS shopping network
12/17/01 Caught on tape
12/14/01 Know when to hold 'em
12/10/01 Old friends
12/06/01 I read the news today, oh boy
12/03/01 It's not cricket
11/28/01 Admissions and omissions
11/26/01 Guns and abayas
11/21/01 Depraved minds think alike
11/19/01 Guilty, a la carte
11/14/01 Interpreting the entrails of Election 2000
11/12/01 Life and liberty
11/09/01 Safety is as safety does
11/07/01 More hot air on global warming
11/05/01 Bumped Pakistani's molehill
11/01/01 Freedom snuffed out
10/29/01 Give war a chance
10/26/01 Airline bill needs liftoff
10/22/01 The Riordan Principle
10/19/01 Before America gets tired of the war on terrorism
10/17/01 Patriot games
10/15/01 I was a 'McCainiac,' and I have seen the light
10/12/01 University of Censorship's fall semester
10/11/01 Poor little rich boy, Osama
10/07/01 Don't feed Israel to the beast
10/05/01: bin Laden is not our Frankenstein monster
10/04/01: Where no man has gone before
09/26/01: Who's bloodthirsty?
09/26/01: What's to understand?
09/20/01: Barbara Lee's line in the sand
09/14/01: You gotta love this country
09/13/01: ENTER TERROR
09/11/01: You can't clone ethics
09/06/01: NOW's goal: equal rights for women without equal responsibility
08/30/01: What's love got to do with it?
08/24/01: A clean, well-lighted place for junkies
08/20/01: Bush should stand up for justice
08/08/01: Don't give Peace (Dept). a chance
08/03/01: Lose a kid, pass a law
08/01/01: Welcome to France, killers
07/30/01: Why it's easy being green (in Europe)
07/26/01: If disabled means expendable
07/23/01: Condit should not resign
07/18/01: Feinstein should learn her limit
07/16/01: A drought of common sense
07/13/01: The catalog has no clothes
07/05/01: It's Bush against the planet
07/03/01: The man who would be guv
06/29/01: Wheeled, wired and free
06/27/01: O, fearful new world
06/25/01: End HMO horrors
06/21/01: Either they're dishonest or clueless
06/18/01: Freedom is a puff of smoke
06/15/01: In praise of going heavy: Yes, you can take it all
06/13/01: McVeigh: 'Unbowed' maybe, but dead for sure
06/11/01: Gumby strikes back
06/08/01: Los Angeles' last white mayor?
06/07/01: Kids will be kids, media will be media
06/04/01: Draw a line in the sand
05/30/01: Just don't call him a moderate
05/29/01: Operation: Beat up on civil rights
05/24/01: Of puppies, kittens and huge credit-card debts
05/22/01: Bush needs an energy tinkerbell
05/18/01: Divided we stand, united they fall
05/16/01: Big Bench backs might over right
05/15/01: Close SUV loophole
05/11/01: Kill the test, welcome failure
05/09/01: DA mayor's disappointing legacy
05/07/01: If it ain't broken ...
05/03/01: They shoot civilians, don't they?
04/30/01: Executions are not for prime time
04/12/01: White House and the green myth
04/10/01: The perjurer as celeb
04/04/01: Bush bashers don't know squat
04/02/01: Drugging our oldsters
03/30/01: Robert Lee Massie exercises his death wish
03/28/01: Cheney's nuclear reactor
03/26/01: Where California and Mexico meet
03/16/01: Boy's sentence was no accident
03/14/01: Soft money, hard reform
03/12/01: Banks, big credit lines and consumer bankruptcy
03/09/01: Free speech dies in Berkeley
03/02/01: When rats have rights
02/28/01: Move a frog, go to jail?
02/26/01: They knew they'd get away with it
02/20/01: How Dems define tax fairness
02/16/01: The jackpot casino Carmel tribe?
02/14/01: You can fight school success
02/12/01: Hannibal -- with guts this time
02/08/01: A family of jailbirds
02/05/01: Reality's most demeaning TV moments
02/01/01: Justice for the non-Rich
01/26/01: Hail to the chiefs of D.C. opinion
01/24/01: A day of mud and monuments
01/22/01: Diversity, division, de-lovely D.C.
01/19/01: Parties agree: Give back the money
01/17/01: Get tough with the oil companies, or forget pumping more Alaskan crude
01/15/01: Mineta better pray that no attending confirmation senator has ever driven to San Jose during rush hour
01/12/01: Europeans should look in the mirror
01/10/01: Dems' reasons for dissin' Dubya's picks
01/08/01: Jerry, curb your guru
01/03/01: A foe of Hitler and friend of Keating
12/28/00: Nice people think nice thoughts
12/26/00: The Clinton years: Epilogue
12/21/00: 'Tis the season to free nonviolent drug offenders
12/18/00: A golden opportunity is squandered
12/15/00: You can take the 24 years, good son
12/13/00: Court of law vs. court of public opinion
12/08/00: A salvo in the war on the war on drugs
12/06/00: Don't cry, Butterfly: Big trees make great decks
12/04/00: Florida: Don't do as Romans did
11/30/00: Special City's hotel parking ticket
11/27/00: No means yes, yes means more than yes
11/22/00: The bench, the ballot and fairness
11/20/00: Mendocino, how green is your ballot?
© 2000, Creators Syndicate