GOP Floating Ted Olson, Head of 1990s Anti-Clinton ‘Arkansas Project,’ for AG

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.

With all this baggage and a likely confrontation in the Senate, would Pres. Bush nominate Ted Olson for attorney general? The answer is sadly yes.

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.


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  • Regret to Inform
    April 22, 2007 - 10:06 am | Permalink

    Perhaps the GOP is hoping that Olson’s “Arkansas Project” past will become an issue in the nomination. Then they could say, “Look! this is all payback for Clinton!”

  • April 22, 2007 - 11:49 am | Permalink

    McClatchy Washington Bureau published a list… besides Olsen other names such as Chertoff appeared… more details on each of the names dangled… check out Adam Lambert’s piece on the possibilities.

  • April 22, 2007 - 12:33 pm | Permalink

    It’s not going to happen. Republicans don’t want the whole bogus Clinton scandals brought up again.

    There are other candidates even more reprehensible and less controversial than Olson, should Gonzales be sent packing.

  • ewastud
    April 22, 2007 - 4:20 pm | Permalink

    However, Sen. Patrick Leahy has said publicly that the Senate will not confirm another AG until they get to the bottom of the fired US attorney scandal. I think he means it, and as the chairman of the Judiciary Committee he can enforce it.

  • kitt
    April 22, 2007 - 4:28 pm | Permalink

    “It’s not going to happen. Republicans don’t want the whole bogus Clinton scandals brought up again.”

    The Republicans don’t have a say in the call. It’s up to ‘The Deciderer’. And ‘The Deciderer is, after all, a knit-wit. He doesn’t decider stuff based on logic, sense, reason, or concern for other Republican’s election or re-election hopes.

  • eleanor orlando
    April 22, 2007 - 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Is this some kind of a joke. how can anyone consider such a caontroversilal person to any type of position, especially attorney general.

  • makesenseofit
    April 22, 2007 - 5:38 pm | Permalink

    The nomination can happen with GW BUSH. Especially when he attempts to make his cronies the elite inner circle to protect his sad sorry personal vengeance to be the worst president but the “war president” for the history books.

  • doubtful
    April 22, 2007 - 5:50 pm | Permalink

    was susan olson really on that plane?

  • karl rove
    April 22, 2007 - 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I totally agree. Ted Olsen should be floated. Floated in the Arkansas River. We are running out of incompetent people to place in government service. It’s a real manpower crisis we have here. We can’t load up agencies anymore with Pat Robertson’s Regent grads, and get them in under the radar. And anyone that even looks good in a photo op is distancing themselves from the President and in some cases the GOP. It’s really starting to turn to shit quick, and before 2009, half of us are sure to be dead or in jail. MOMMA!
    Now for those of you who heard about my run in with Sheryl Crow at the WH correspondants dinner, I just want to say that it had NOTHING to do with the discussion on global warming. I yelled at her not to touch me, because frankly, a woman’s touch just freaks me out. Out Magazine invited Jeff Gannon/Guckert, but he couldn’t make it. That’s the touch I crave.

  • karl rove
    April 22, 2007 - 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Mrs. Olsen? Wasn’t she that Folgers coffee chick?

  • stephen
    April 23, 2007 - 10:44 am | Permalink

    Yes Barbars Olson was on the plane that hit the pentagon. I htink this is being floated because the repubs are saying soemthing like….Well OK then you can have Abu G. but guess what we have to replace him with…Watch out what you wish for????” I don’t think Olson would ever get out of committe but then of course you have the good old Recess appointments waiting in the wings and a recess appointment of Olson would basically put him in place until the end of the God Damned nightmare!.

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  • Thomas Chacko
    April 23, 2007 - 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Why am I not surprised? This president who promised to be “a uniter, not a divider” has given us the most partisan, divisive administration in history. He has fulfilled his promise to bring “a new tone to Washington” — he has made it worse! Ted Olson is the epitome of what James Carville has called the “suck-up, spit down” style of today’s Republican Party, displaying sheer contempt for this country and its democratic traditions. And regardless of his wife Barbara’s tragic death, her fame and money came from spreading talk-radio droppings onto the printed page; the same sort of ugly, filthy falsehoods that arouse the loser fans of Limbaugh, Hannity, and Savage, among others!

    And he’s a possible replacement for El Estupido? Good one, Dubya!

  • American Citizen
    April 23, 2007 - 11:57 pm | Permalink

    Rather ironic that Bush’s laziness and incompetence about Al Queda warnings resulted in Susan Olson’s tragic death. Why would Ted Olson want to get involved with the man responsible for killing his wife? Unless….

  • Bobby Hill
    April 24, 2007 - 5:24 am | Permalink

    Acccording to Sen. Reid,Recess Appointments won’t happen again,the Senate won’t recess for 3 or more days again! In other words Bush is screwed on Recess Appointments!

  • Violet
    April 24, 2007 - 11:08 am | Permalink

    At least it isn’t Ken Starr…Oh no! I shouldn’t have brought that up.

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