If Attorney Gen. Alberto Gonzales resigns, we have proposed special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald or former Sen. Fred. Thompson as his replacement. Of course, we weren’t serious.
Now there is word that Republican officials in D.C. are seriously proposing Ted Olson to replace Gonzo. Digby asks, “Is this some kind of a joke?”
Knowing Ted Olson’s history, the answer is sadly no.
During the 1990s, the GOP ran a stealth disinformation campaign against the Clintons, the prototype for Swiftboating, out of the offices of the American Spectator, a rightwing magazine. Internally, the operation was called the Arkansas Project, but Hillary famously referred to it as a “vast rightwing conspiracy.” It was funded by Richard Mellon Scaife and its CEO was Ted Olson.
At the same time, Olson’s wife, Barbara, was one of a cadre of wingnut blondes — the others were Ann Coulter, Kellyann Fitzpatrick and Laura Ingraham — who were given untold hours of face time on cable news to bash the Clintons with rumors and innuendos, much of which was processed through the Arkansas Project. Barbara, the author of a bizarrely nasty screed titled “Hell to Pay: The Unfolding Story of Hillary Rodham Clinton,” died on the plane that hit the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.
In late 2000, Ted Olson argued for the Bush/Cheney campaign in Bush v. Gore. For this, he was rewarded with the position of solicitor general, a job once held by his friend Ken Starr, the Whitewater special investigator. You’ll recall that it was Starr who spent $60 million of the taxpayers’ money to smear the Clintons with allegations, much of which were generated by the Arkansas Project. In the end, Starr came up emptyhanded except for an unrelated sex lie and stained blue dress.
With the possible exception of Starr, no one is more responsible than Ted Olson for paving the way for the Worst President Ever.
The other sign of things to come: The Arkansas Project was absymally managed. Olson’s minions handed out around $1 million in bribes in Arkansas but every story about the Clintons they paid for fell apart under Starr’s investigation. This eventually led to a complete collapse of Ken Starr’s credibility among the public. It was a classic case of clueless Yankees being hoodwinked by Southern conmen.
I hope Bush nominates Olson. As Digby also points out, in 2001, when Olson’s nomination to solicitor general sailed through, the Judiciary Committee was controlled by Republicans and Democrats were limited in the witnesses they could call. The Arkansas project was barely mentioned, if I recall. Today the Judiciary chairman, Pat Leahy, and other committee Democrats like Chuck Schumer, Ted Kennedy and Russ Feingold may be more ready to get Olson on the record about his role in the Arkansas Project than they were in 2001 when they were in the throes of Clinton fatigue.
With all this baggage and a likely confrontation in the Senate would Pres. Bush nominate Ted Olson?
The answer is sadly yes.