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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Subpoena Power - by Joshua Micah Marshall

For the scandal-ridden White House, preventing the Dems from taking control of the House and the Senate is a simple matter of survival.
 
Forget cutting government spending. Forget ending the New Deal. Forget even about Iraq and Iran. Those agenda items, in varying orders, bulked large at one time or another in the history of the second Bush administration. But none ranks first or second or really anywhere significant on the White House's current to-do list. Today there's just one item on the agenda: preventing the Democrats from taking control of either house of Congress. And the key issue is subpoena power.
 
So much of what the Bush administration has managed to accomplish in the past five years has been possible because there has been no other political institution in Washington--outside the direct control of the White House--with subpoena power.
 
When it comes to having anyone seriously pry into how it does business, the Bush White House has had five-plus years of a free ride. And that freedom from accountability has created a vast backlog of wrongdoing. The White House--and the entire D.C. GOP, for that matter--is just sitting on too many secrets and bad acts. Keeping control of the House and the Senate is less a matter of conventional ideological and even partisan politics than it is a simple matter of survival.
 
If the Democrats win back the House, a vocal minority may push for articles of impeachment. (The White House would actually welcome that, as it would polarize post-2006 politics along lines that might allow the president to claim the political center.) Some frivolous investigations will be pushed. But there's just no shortage of genuine scandals that have yet to get any serious public scrutiny. Here are three that the White House is probably most concerned about:
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