- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The “vast right-wing conspiracy” is alive and well, and has made the Bush White House more corrupt than the Nixon administration, a Democratic congressman said yesterday.

“Not since the days of Watergate, when our judicial system and intelligence community were deployed by the White House … in the service of partisan politics have we seen such, in my view, abuses,” said Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Democrat.

“And in many ways, what we have seen from this administration is far more extensive than that scandal,” Mr. Emanuel said in a speech at the Brookings Institution, a liberal Washington think tank.

The White House shot back that Mr. Emanuel was resurrecting an accusation used by first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in 1998 at the height of her husband’s sex scandal.

“The nightmare we thought we had woken up from is recurring. We thought that the ‘vast right-wing conspiracy’ was over,” said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.

Mr. Emanuel’s remarks were “really surprising, given the messenger,” Mrs. Perino said. “It sounded a little more like something you would see in the National Enquirer, not at a prestigious American think tank.”

Mr. Emanuel was a close adviser to President Clinton when Mrs. Clinton told reporters that the Monica Lewinsky scandal was the product of a “vast right-wing conspiracy” against her husband.

“This vast right-wing conspiracy … has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president,” Mrs. Clinton said in a January 1998 appearance on NBC’s “Today” show.

Mr. Emanuel, a third-term congressman who is the fourth highest ranking House Democrat, said the Bush administration has infused party politics into the operation of regular government to an unhealthy, even corrupt, degree.

“I’m not one who believes you can ever fully divorce politics from policy in a democracy,” Mr. Emanuel said. But “instead of promoting solutions to our nation’s broad challenges, the Bush administration has used all the levers of power to promote their party and its narrow interests.”

The firings of eight federal prosecutors last year “has placed a spotlight on the administration’s pattern of always placing the Republican Party’s interest before the national or public interest,” he said.

“The U.S. attorneys scandal will be to public corruption what Hurricane Katrina was to competency,” Mr. Emanuel said.

When asked about Mr. Clinton’s firing of all 93 U.S. attorneys at the beginning of his first term, Mr. Emanuel said that because the Bush administration fired eight attorneys during the president’s second term, the question was “comparing apples and oranges.”

Mrs. Perino suggested that Mr. Emanuel and other Democrats have embarked on investigations of the president because their legislative agenda in Congress is “faltering.”

“They’ve decided to fall back on what is a tried and true tactic of theirs, which is creating grand conspiracy theories that have no basis in fact,” she said.

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