The blogosphere is aghast that Karl Rove deputy Scott Jennings seems to be taking executive privilege a wee bit too far:
SENATOR PAT LEAHY, (D), VERMONT: Are you aware of any presidential decision documents since the 2004 election which President Bush decided to procede with a replacement plan for U.S. attorneys?
JENNINGS: Sir, pursuant to the president's assertion of executive privilege, I decline to answer at this time.
LEAHY: As special assistant to the president, deputy director of police affairs, what role do you have in the selection of nominees to the U.S. attorneys?
JENNINGS: Senator, I will decline to answer that question pursuant To the president's assertion of executive privilege...
LEAHY: Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait. I'm just asking what role you have in the selection of nominees to be U.S. attorney. I'm just talking about what you do. I mean--let's not be too contemptuous of this committee. I'm just asking you what role do you have in the selection of nominees for U.S. attorneys. You work at the White House, you're paid for by taxpayers. You work for the American people. I'm just asking what kind of work you do.
JENNINGS: Sir, I understand. And based on my understanding of the letter I have from Mr. Fielding, this falls under the president's assertion of executive privilege and, therefore, I must respectfully decline to answer at this time.
But it makes perfect sense to me. The truthful answer to that question is very likely something along the lines of, "My job is to make sure that the Republicans win the 2008 election by any means necessary." Little wonder he's asserting executive privilege.
No, the puzzling part to me is not that Jennings asserted privilege, but that Leahy was surprised by it. I would have hoped that someone with Leahy's experience would not be so naive as to have been caught off guard by that. And so the logical next question in Leahy's rapid-fire sequence will now be forever unasked: "Are you asserting privilege because your job requires you to engage in activities that are ethically or legally questionable?"