The grand showdown between the Dems upset at Bush's illegal wiretapping fizzled out as soon as Arlen Specter -- the two-faced Bush go-fer of the GOP -- not only ruled that Gonzales didn't have to testify under oath, he pretended -- as scripted -- to prohibit the Attorney General of the United States from doing what most Americans are required to do in a Court of Law or before Congress (unless they are from the White House or CEOs of big oil companies).
It was at that point, once again, that the Democrats became merely bit players in a script once again written by the White House. For many years, and most recently in several editorials, BuzzFlash has lamented that the Dems don't understand that these hearings are soap operas -- and that the Bush/Rovian propaganda staff writes very effective soap opera scripts.
In this case, the goal of the soap opera was to allow Gonzales not to testify under oath, so that he wouldn't be likely to be charged with perjury. After that point, everything else just became a big muddle. And, the White House knows, in a situation like this, they win if the hearing turns out to be inconclusive and stalemated.
We had to laugh through our tears for democracy when Arlen Specter boasted that he was the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and no Attorney General was going to decide for himself to testify under oath, as Gonzales pretended that he wanted to be sworn in (but, of course, knew in advance that it would never happen, so he could lie with impunity). Oh, my Lord, you couldn't get hack Hollywood scriptwriters to do a better job!
But, as we've always said, between the Coasts, Americans believe what they see. And, once again, you had the appearance of an earnest man claiming he wanted to testify under oath because it wouldn't change what he would say.
The Democrats lost control of the hearing when Specter forced a party line vote of 10-8 that Gonzales wouldn't be sworn in. Period.
At that moment, the Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee should have taken charge of the scriptwriting and left the room in protest.
Sigh. A man can dream.