Earlier this year, we learned that Karl Rove had been conducting political meetings with various govenmental agencies, attempting to turn, essentially, the Federal government into an extension of the Republican party. In Tuesday's Washington Post, we learn that U.S. international diplomats also received visits from Rove and his political powerpoint presentations.
Diplomats Received Political Briefings
Democrats Were Targeted for Defeat
By Paul Kane
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 24, 2007; Page A01
White House aides have conducted at least half a dozen political briefings for the Bush administration's top diplomats, including a PowerPoint presentation for ambassadors with senior adviser Karl Rove that named Democratic incumbents targeted for defeat in 2008 and a "general political briefing" at the Peace Corps headquarters after the 2002 midterm elections.
Before getting into the question of just how diplomats stationed overseas could possibly help Republicans win Congressional seats, anyway, let's go back and remind ourselves of earlier episodes in this story. Back in April we learned about some of the domestic aspects of all this:
Political Briefings At Agencies Disclosed
White House Calls Meetings Lawful
By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 26, 2007; A01
White House officials conducted 20 private briefings on Republican electoral prospects in the last midterm election for senior officials in at least 15 government agencies covered by federal restrictions on partisan political activity, a White House spokesman and other administration officials said yesterday.
-- snip --
Political meetings were held at the GSA, the Commerce Department, the EPA, NASA, the Small Business Administration, Health and Human Services, Interior, Labor, Housing and Urban Development, Treasury, Education, Agriculture and Energy, "at least".
At its completion, GSA Administrator Lurita Alexis Doan asked how GSA projects could be used to help "our candidates," according to half a dozen witnesses. The briefer, J. Scott Jennings, said that topic should be discussed "off-line," the witnesses said. Doan then replied, "Oh, good, at least as long as we are going to follow up," according to an account given by former GSA chief acquisition officer Emily Murphy to House investigators, according to a copy of the transcript.
-- snip --
Justin Busch, a GSA appointee who attended the briefing there, told the investigators that Doan's comment made him "very uncomfortable." Dennis R. Smith, the regional GSA administrator in Boston, recalled a "feeling of unease" at Doan's additional mention of the need to manage a GSA building visit by then-incoming House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
For that little violation of the Hatch Act, the Office of Special Counsel advised disiplinary action against Doan.
By Robert O'Harrow Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 12, 2007; Page A07
The U.S. special counsel has called on President Bush to discipline General Services Administration chief Lurita Alexis Doan "to the fullest extent" for violating the federal Hatch Act when she allegedly asked political appointees how they could "help our candidates" during a January meeting.
In a June 8 letter to Bush, Special Counsel Scott J. Bloch accused Doan of "engaging in the most pernicious of political activity" during a Jan. 26 lunch briefing involving 36 GSA political appointees and featuring a PowerPoint presentation about the November elections by the White House's deputy director of political affairs.
-- snip --
Later, after the special counsel's office received a complaint about the episode and began investigating, Doan showed "a proclivity toward misrepresentation and obstructing an official investigation," Bloch told the president in a four-page letter that accompanied an eight-page memo about the case.
But as of now, anyway, nothing has been done.
Bloch’s recommendation to discipline Doan "to the fullest extent" presumably means firing her. Because Doan is a Senate-confirmed presidential appointee, Bush has discretion to remove or retain her.
Since the report’s findings were disclosed in May, the White House press office has said officials are reviewing the 20-page document, but has declined to say when they will act. A spokeswoman did not return a call Monday [July 16].
Okay, that brings us back to today, and the revelation that Rove's been doing this kind of thing with international officials, too.
The briefings, mostly run by Rove's deputies at the White House political affairs office, began in early 2001 and included detailed analyses for senior officials of the political landscape surrounding critical congressional and gubernatorial races, according to documents obtained by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The documents show for the first time how the White House sought to ensure that even its appointees involved in foreign policy were kept attuned to the administration's election goals. Such briefings occurred semi-regularly over the past six years for staffers dealing with domestic policy, White House officials have previously acknowledged.
White House officials express amazement that anyone would find this strange. But the WaPo quotes diplomats from former administrations as "shocked" and so on.
Tuesday's WaPo story leaves unanswered the question of exactly what Rove could want with political meetings from Bush's ambassadors. What good does it do to tell the U.S. ambassador to Spain that congressional district so-and-so, now held by a Democrat, might be ripe for the picking in 2008?
I can certainly think of things. Manipulation of business, trade, new factories, tourism, who knows.
The larger point is that we have, here, further evidence for the utter politicization of every facet of the U.S. government under Bush. This administration has made the government of the United States, to the fullest extent feasible, an extension of the Republican party. Every resource is marshalled to secure victories in elections for one political party.
We don't even know 10% of it. It's a miracle that Democrats win anything at all. That Democrats now have a majority in the House and control of the Senate, speaks only to the utter disgust the American people have with the Republicans, to overcome God Only Knows what layers of spin and machinery to put Democrats in office. It also speaks well, of course, of the ingenuity of the Democratic party itself.
Nevertheless, the unanswered questions are endless, and the answers will know doubt, when they come, be staggering.