Monday, March 26, 2007

Friends With Benefits

Another entry in the recurring series, "Why Can't Be Taken Seriously." Here's Mike Allen transcribing the White House talking points regarding Abugate:

Sampson is not gunning for anybody, according to friends. He believes that the issue has blown up because the Justice Department had an inadequate system for preparing officials to testify before Congress, the friends say. The Justice Department officials testified that the firings were based on performance rather than politics, an assertion called into question by e-mails the department later delivered to Capitol Hill.

The friends say Sampson, 37, does not plan to deliver bombshells, and say that Democrats looking for plots and schemes will be disappointed. Like other Republicans, Sampson will contend there was no underlying sin, just a botched response.

"He is not personally of the opinion now, based on what he knows, that anybody at the Department of Justice did anything intentionally wrong," said a friend familiar with Sampson's thinking.

Sampson is testifying voluntarily, sparing the committee from having to decide whether to subpoena him. "He doesn't feel that he has anything to hide," the friend said. "He doesn't feel that there's any aspect of this story that he can't explain publicly. He's hoping to contribute what he knows in the hope that getting the truth out, as fully as it can be gotten out, will ultimately help calm the situation rather than aggravate it."

Ah, yes. The truest friends are those who stand by you while refusing to acknowledge that they're standing by you.

But why is Mike Allen transcribing these anonymous comments as if they're newsworthy? More importantly, why is Allen refusing to identify these friends and their interests in the matter? If Sampson has nothing to hide, why are he and Allen hiding the names of Sampson's friends?

Perhaps recognizing that no one will buy his tale of "friends," Allen adds the suggestion of religious persecution to his fable:

Sampson -- a Utah native and father of three whose wife is a fellow graduate of Brigham Young University -- is the bishop of his Northern Virginia ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He told BYU Magazine in 2003, when he was in the White House counsel's office, that he often got home just in time to read to the children before bed.

Why, no man of devout religious faith and limited familial devotion could lie to Congress. Just ask Jack Abramoff.

Allen tops himself, however, when gets to spinning for Abu G.

Republicans sympathetic to Gonzales, while not knowing what he will contend, say that one case he could make to indignant lawmakers would be that the problem lies in the difference between what he said and what he meant: When he told the Senate Judiciary Committee in January that he "would never, ever make a change in a United States attorney position for political reasons or if it would, in any way, jeopardize an ongoing serious investigation," what he meant was that he would never fire someone for improper political reasons or to influence a case.

The Republicans say the argument would be that he was guilty of sloppy language, of being too categorical and of saying things he hadn't thought through carefully enough.

Please, please, please make that argument, Alberto. Preferably under oath.

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