The contours and scope of executive privilege is one issue, and certainly an important one. But in this case it is being used as no more than a shield to keep the full extent of the president's perversion of the rule of law from becoming known.Yes, he's our own little Generalissimo El Busho. Political cartoonist Ted Rall saw Bush for what he was -- a power-mad tinpot-dictator-wannabe -- long before any of us had heard of Abu Ghraib, extraordinary rendition, or the theory of the unitary executive (0r before the whole world saw Bush prancing on the deck of that aircraft carrier in his little flight suit costume).
It's yet another example of how far this White House has gone in normalizing behavior that we've been raised to associate with third-world countries where democracy has never successfully taken root and the rule of law is unknown. At most points in our history the idea that an Attorney General could stay in office after having overseen such an effort would be unthinkable. The most telling part of this episode is that they're not even really denying the wrongdoing. They're ignoring the point or at least pleading 'no contest' and saying it's okay.
The only reason Bush feigns outrage now about "show trials" and "klieg lights" is because they're just about the only things the petulant little creep didn't manage to co-opt from a garden-variety despot.
But you have to give him credit for trying. As Josh Marshall points out,
[The U.S. Attorney scandal is] all reminiscent of the bogus voter fraud allegations Republicans got caught peddling in the South Dakota senate race in 2002. Only in this case getting these charges into the press wasn't enough; they wanted to use U.S. Attorneys to actual harrass people or put them in jail.)
Ah, Republicans. How proud you all must be.