There’s not much to say about the scandal of the 7 fired US Attorneys that hasn’t already been said (especially by the top notch operation over at TPM Muckraker). And really, it hasn’t excited me all that much, because it’s simply a rehash of the same thing the Bush Administration has served us over and over and over again. There’s nothing new here. Well, except for one very important thing. First, though, let’s review the standard elements of nearly every Bush scandal:

  1. Action taken for a nakedly political motivation, public interest and established practice be damned
  2. Action noted online and analyzed a bit, only to be generally ignored by press
  3. Online reporters connect a few more dots, prompting some attention by non-WP/NYT press and a few members of Congress
  4. Add some additional percolation time
  5. Democratic Member(s) of Congress takes on the issue and demands an answer from the Administration
  6. Administration brushes it off/stonewalls at first, and then lies when pressed
  7. Information all but proving the lie becomes public

These are the ingredients of almost every Bush administration scandal we’ve seen. NSA wiretapping, intelligence reporting, “thwarted terrorist plots” – you name it, they’ve all pretty much followed the same script, which then culminates in:

    8. Democrats are denounced as partisan/undermining security, and it blows over with the help of a compliant press.

But that doesn’t seem to be happening this time, does it? In fact, we’re witnessing things we’ve not seen before – Republican senators calling for a resignation and mainstream press appears to be working hard on the story. So what’s different? I really don’t think it’s the Democratic control of Congress.

Rather, it’s that this failing of Bush’s isn’t tied to a policy that the Republicans and mainstream press have bound themselves to in public. And that gives Republicans an opening that they’re taking. Since November, Republicans wanting a future in elected office have been looking for a way to put space between themselves and this administration. But they’ve not been willing to do it on an issue that would open themselves to the same charges they’ve spent the past five years leveling. By jumping on Gonzales now – on an issue that they’ve never had a (public) hand in – they’re creating that space between themselves and the administration without having to face the fact that they’ve never had a problem with administration lies and purely political actions before. And they still leave the security/patriotism horse ready in the stable, in case they need to ride it again (and they will).