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Pundit: White House wants it 'difficult for people to vote'
David Edwards
Published: Sunday April 15, 2007
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On Sunday's edition of ABC's This Week, pundit Robert Reich suggests the core issue behind the US attorney firings and missing White House emails. Reich says, "I think the question here is that once you start asking, 'Should the emails have been disclosed?' -- 'Which emails to disclose?' -- is that the public loses sight of what the big issue is in the background."

Reich continues, saying, "The issue at stake here has to do with what the White House was trying to do with the US attorneys. What the White House was trying to do in terms of, perhaps, creating a public image of voter fraud across this country that would entitle the White House to make it more difficult for people to vote. That seems to be to be a very large issue that needs to be discussed."

The following video clip is from ABC's This Week.

Transcript:

MR. STEPHANOPOLOUS: Before we go, we did have this -- it seems like there's a story a week coming out of the White House about White House damage control, or lack thereof, as you put it, Torie Clarke.

MS. CLARKE: (Inaudible.)

MR. STEPHANOPOLOUS: Millions of White House e-mails missing this week, some, perhaps, connected to the firings of these attorney generals. How big is this -- how far does it go?

MS. CLARKE: It's hard to describe how big, because it's every day there's something else. But this e-mail thing -- the e-mails will be found. We all know they will find those e-mails. But if we're going to put all the White House e-mails on that might be connected to the campaigns and the RNC et cetera, then I want every congressional staffer's BlackBerry, cell phone, e-mail accounts, thrown out on the table. Because in my opinion -- and I was accused of being a prude about this this past weekend -- people who are working in congressional offices, working in the White House on our taxpayers' dole, ought not to be doing political work. They ought not to be doing it. So these clever games we play, "But oh, well, they have separate BlackBerrys and separate cell phones."

MR. STEPHANOPOLOUS: But wait -- but wait a second. No, no. The White House is a political institution. There's nothing wrong with White House officials doing political work, as long as it's handled in the proper way, right?

MS. CLARKE: Should they be doing political work in the eight or 10 hours a day they're working for you and me, the taxpayer? I don't think they should. I know this is naive. People think I'm a prude. But if we're going to be --

MR. REICH: Well, you're talking about -- (inaudible due to laughter) -- I'm talking about the partisan -- you're talking about partisan political work. I think the question here, you know, is that once you start asking should the e-mails have been disclosed, which e- mails to disclose, the public loses sight of what the big issue is in the background. We have a tendency here in Washington -- you, I should say; I'm no longer here -- to get smaller and smaller and smaller -- (word inaudible) --

(Laughter.)

MR. STEPHANOPOLOUS: You just visit on Sundays.

MR. REICH: -- on these very, very minute, technical issues.

MR. STEPHANOPOLOUS: So what's the big issue at stake here?

MR. REICH: The issue at stake here has to do with what the White House was trying to do with the U.S. attorneys, what the White House was trying to do in terms of perhaps creating a public image of voter fraud across this country that would entitle the White House to make it more difficult for people to vote. That seems to me to be a very large issue that ought to be discussed.

MR. STEPHANOPOLOUS: George, a 15-second rebuttal.

MR. WILL: Was it Henry Ford who said never apologize, never explain. If they'd adhered to this in this episode, they'd be all right.

MR. STEPHANOPOLOUS: You can't do that in the age of e-mail. (Laughter.)

Thank you all very much