(Custom-made pic courtesy of the always amazing Alicia.)
Right about now, George W. Bush probably fancies himself Leonidas, the leader of the vastly outnumbered Spartan army, defiantly bucking the odds as those sturdy old Persian warlords Leahy and Conyers bellow, “Our subpoenas will blot out the sun!” Because this generation’s mentally- and morally-crippled answer to Leonidas petulantly responds with, “Then we’ll do our finaglin’ in the shade… like we always do.” However, Bush is no King Leonidas, the tax-hating man credited with winning the Persian War. He’s more like that wily and treacherous con man Themistocles.
At the risk of losing whatever minuscule credibility that I've ever accreted, I give you as my authority the NY Times’ historian emeritus, Bobo Brooks:
But it’s worth pointing out that Leonidas didn’t win the Persian Wars. Themistocles did, and Themistocles had an altogether different set of qualities. He was not straightforward; in fact, he could be deceptive and manipulative. He was not self-sacrificing; there was an air of corruption and fierce ambition about him. He was not charming or cultured; historians from Herodotus on down have had trouble warming to him.
A bit later on, Brooks reminds us, “(Themistocles) apparently lied to the Persian king, Xerxes, by promising to commit treason, and so tricked the Persians into a hasty attack.”
As far as we can verify what happened in the Greco-Persian Wars nearly 2500 years ago, Bobo, despite his catastrophic failures as a writer and wouldbe neocon, seems to have a firm grasp of history.
Which is more than you can say for the administration. Because, true to Republican form, when caught in a scandal, the current administration points backward to the last administration as if American history begins with Bill Clinton. When will Slick Willie stop being the sacrificial goat tethered to the iron stake of talking points and offered up by Bush and his acolytes to appease the often-derided gods of public opinion?
The new talking point, reminiscent of the NSA wiretapping program that sidestepped the FISA courts, is, “But… but… Bubba fired all 93 prosecutors 14 years ago! He’s the one you want, he’s the one who gave us permission to fire those eight prosecutors! It’s all his fault! Boo hoo!”
And, as usual, their angry backward glances betray a flawed and selective view of history: The mass purging of US attorneys actually begins with Ronald Reagan.
The problem with using Bill Clinton as the scapegoat for this trend begins with the timing. President Clinton began replacing US attorneys in early 1993, at the very beginning of his administration. There was no sense of urgency to remove certain prosecutors who were useless for partisan political purposes. The midterm elections that saw the rise of the Republican revolution that would overtake the House was still almost two years off.
Bush’s own timing couldn’t have been worse. He waited until he was six years in before targeting certain attorneys who also refused to double as Republican operatives. The arm-twisting began before the midterm elections that Rove, Cheney and Bush surely knew was at least up in the air (otherwise, why the strongarm mob tactics if they thought the GOP could retain their majority in Congress on its own merits?).
Days after the election, Rove, Gonzo & Co. spitefully began fitting attorneys with cement overshoes, mailing their widows fish.
So, what are we to glean from all this?
That the Gang That Can’t Think Straight suffers from memory lesions when it comes to who attended what meeting, when, what was discussed and who pushed the button to out this agent or fire that attorney.
But the same gang remembers (and never in the proper context) which attorneys Clinton fired, when and what brand of panties Monica was wearing the night of the Cumshot Heard ‘Round the World.
Iran-Contra? Isn’t that some new hippity hop group? Help me out here, Mommy.
The major difference between the actual Themistocles and his latter day counterpart is that the real thing only pretended to commit treason.