The great lesson of the Bush era: cover-ups work

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It’s a truism repeated in the media at least a hundred times a day: the cover-up is always worse than the crime.


If the last seven years prove anything, it’s that covering up wrongdoing actually often works like a charm. But the trick is that it has to be carried out audaciously and without mercy. Bush-style cover-ups are definitely not for the faint-hearted. There’s no room for ethics, or even shame. You have to be willing to make any argument, no matter how silly: cast any accusation, no matter how groundless.

Never look back; never give in. Attack the victim. Attack the witnesses. Attack the process. Claim that you’re the victim of a politically motivated witch-hunt no matter how fair the investigation may be. Charge the investigators with bias.  

Stall, stall and then stall some more. Run out the clock.  

In Bush-style cover-ups, there’s no such thing as a discoverable document: everything — every last piece of paper and the paper clips that bind them — must be withheld under claim of executive privilege. No governmental employee must ever be allowed to give testimony in court or before the legislative branch. The only place they can be allowed to speak — even if what they’re speaking is a fairy tale (especially if it’s a fairy tale) — is on Fox News.

Just say no. Scoff at subpoenas. Grind the rule of law into the ground like a steamroller crushing a dirt clod. Dismiss the legitimacy of oversight. Play the press for suckers.

Cover-ups don’t work, you say? Come on — wake up and smell the corruption. Successful use of cover-ups is the only thing that’s kept Bush and Cheney in office.

And it would seem that what’s good for Bush is also good for Sarah Palin. You remember Troopergate — the investigation Palin promised to give her full cooperation. But that was then. Today, under the tutelage of Bush and McCain Republicans, she now refuses to testify — refusing even to meet informally with the investigators. Not satisfied with that, she’s also seen to it — through the intervention of the attorney general she appointed — that no other state employee will cooperate.  

Meanwhile, GOP lawyers have descended upon Alaska by the scores to help with the cover-up. That’s the thing about Republicans and lawyers: they hate them except when they need them, which lately has been most of the time.

McCain said during his acceptance speech that he couldn’t wait to introduce Sarah Palin to Washington. I don’t know about that, but clearly he wasted no time in introducing the ways of Washington to Sarah Palin.

And it appears that the Palin cover-up may be working out just fine and dandy: word is that the Alaska legislature, bending to GOP pressure, may put off its official investigation into Troopergate until after the election (if ever).

McCain/Palin may well end up paying a high price politically for the bad publicity their stonewalling on Troopergate has produced. But please, spare me the lectures about how cover-ups always end up worse for the perpetrators than the original crime: because it just isn’t true.

One Response to “The great lesson of the Bush era: cover-ups work”

  1. Again Says:

    the Alaska legislature, bending to GOP pressure, may put off its official investigation into Troopergate until after the election (if ever).

    if ever…

    if the law annoys you - change the law, said Berlusconi…

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