Bob Franken

Salahi and Rogers No-Show Business: Fearing and Jeering the Hearing

When I was off chasing some grueling or even dangerous story, like say, a shooting war, I had a standard response for anyone who complained: “It sure as hell beats covering some Congressional committee”. That was a heartfelt as could be.

After sitting through hundreds upon hundreds of Senate and House hearings, I long ago concluded that almost all of them were nothing more than excuses for the members to showboat and try to get on TV by competing for the “Sound bite of the Day Award” There are certainly many exceptions…Watergate or currently the numerous substantive encounters on health care or our stolen economy.

Then there’s my all-time personal favorites the bizzaro Clarence Thomas hearings. There is nothing like discussing “pubic hairs on a Coke can” to get the juices flowing.

But too many are like this latest mundane round about the White House gate crashers. What possible value do they have? What will they uncover that adds to the investigations underway by the embarrassed White House and Secret Service? Who can blame the Salahis for refusing to show up? Is there anything sillier?

Well, yes there is. That would be the refusal by social secretary Desirée Rogers to face questions. Actually, what’s dumb is the reason given by the administration. She has been instructed not to appear, so we are told, because it would violate the Separation of Powers.

No, I am not making that up. The administration argues that her testimony, in effect, would violate Executive Privilege, the doctrine, as we all know, that is supposed to keep critical advice to the President confidential, so those who give it can be candid and not inhibited by public disclosure.

Does that include the Social Secretary? Does this doctrine cover any embarrassment to the members of the First Family and their court. Does it extend to the gardeners who tend Mrs. Obama’s garden. That’s silly. Right? Of course it is.

Why can’t she just say that she considers the hearing a complete waste of time and has no intention of sitting there as a target for the cheap shots that would come her way?

That, anyone could respect, particularly after watching member after member asking the same obvious questions of the Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan. He had to come, the Secret Service had seen it’s claim to privilege obliterated during the Monica Lewinsky melodrama…another proud Washington passion play.

If this saga is to continue, the chairman might decide to subpoena Ms. Rogers. Then we can have a good old-fashioned Constitutional confrontation, complete with Lewinsky style, expensive, protracted court hearings,…you know…the kind where camera crews and still photographers set up their chairs outside and mob all the witnesses. Is Ken Starr available for a reprise?

Imagine the scrum when the Salahis showed up…this time they’d be invited. Presumably they’d make it easy for all the video people to get their shots, unless, of course, they have some “exclusive deal”, with Bravo or some other paying customer.

Given that they achieved their precious stardom when they crashed the State Dinner inside the not-so-protected White House, we would have an obvious name for all this: We’d call it “Gate-Gate”

By the way, has a committee set up hearings yet on the Tiger Woods matter?

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