What the right wanteth, the right geteth. Or maybe not.
I should probably come up with a more elegant way to put it. But things just seem to have gotten pretty weird at the Senate Judiciary Committee this evening.
All the Democrats and two, three or perhaps even more of the Republicans on the committee favored asking the Justice Department to appoint a prosecutor or perhaps even a special counsel to investigate the case of the pilfered Democratic staff memos.
Several different iterations of a possible letter were moving along and being edited and so forth, all trying to come up with a document that all or most members of the committee could sign. But then things just seemed to break down, though I'm not completely clear why.
Senator Hatch, the committee chairman, with five Republicans present, called the committee to order while the Democrats were off caucusing. He then announced that no agreement would be possible and gaveled the session to a close. And that was it.
It all seems to have happened before the Dems even realized what was going on.
Hatch then told Bill Pickle, the sergeant-at-arms, to do what he thought was best -- as far as whether to refer the matter to DOJ.
This, of course, puts Pickle in an impossible position since he's not supposed to be a partisan and this issue was so contentious and charged that even the senators themselves could not agree amongst themselves what to do.
In any case, after all this brouhaha went down, six senators -- three Dems and three Republicans -- got together and agreed on a letter that was similar to the letter earlier agreed upon by all the Dems and at least two of the Republicans. (Follow that? Good.)
We've just posted the letter that was sent
This Reuters article
, which describes what happened, says that "six senators signed a similar though more softly worded request."
But reading it, it's actually difficult for me to see just how much more strongly it could have been written. As you can see, the letter
asks Justice to investigate, suggests a special counsel should be appointed, and even suggests that Patrick Fitzgerald -- the guy now heading up the Plame investigation -- would be a good candidate for the job.
I don't see quite how much more you could ask for.
In any case, one more point to note: the three Republicans who signed are Lindsay Graham, Saxby Chambliss and Mike DeWine.
DeWine's definitely a moderate. But you can't really say the same for the other two -- at least not in conventional ideological terms. In fact, it's pretty difficult to find any rationale for their signing this letter other than their belief that it was the right thing to do -- which says a lot for both of them.
I think the Dems have right on their side too certainly. But in their case right coincides with interest. And that always makes it easier.
The 'moderate' former prosecutor Arlen Specter seems to have decided to take a breather on this one.