Appearance of Conflict of Interest

· Edgewise, Paleoblogs, State of the Union

That’s a concept we’re hearing a a lot about lately:
Over the weekend the Comical ran a WaPo story reporting that the EPA’s Inspector General says there is no such thing as quid pro quo:

The inspector general’s yearlong review of the EPA’s writing of a rule to manage shop towels contaminated with toxic chemicals found “no evidence of direct political influence” by lobbyists for Cintas Corp., whose chairman, Richard Farmer of Cincinnati, is a top Republican donor who raised more than $250,000 for the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign.

Read the whole piece; it’s Bush administration business dismayingly as usual.
It’s also emerging that Bill Frist has money in the family business via an even less blind trust than we already knew about. This one’s run by his brother. It’s a topic of much discussion on dKos, but nobody seems interested in whether other congresspeople — including Democrats –might also have “qualified” blind trusts.
And of course, there’s Harriet Miers. Googling her name with “conflict of interest” reports 169,000 hits. Wolcott has been calling her Miss Hathaway for her devotion to the boss; and that loyalty to a sitting president is, even more than her crony-capitalist ideology and her acceptability to Dobson, et al, at the heart of her disqualification for the SC.
Appearance of conflict of interest also figures in a couple of ways in Plamegate. That seems to have been the implied accusation in Rove & Libby’s campaign against Joe Wilson: if Wilson’s wife was involved in selecting him for the Niger trip, then it goes without saying that he must have been unqualified and must lack credibility. Seems a rather fastidious view of nepotism for this White House to be taking.
But Plamegate is also revealing a real conflict of interest, and that’s with the MSM figures involved. All of the journalists to whom this “damaging” information was leaked were chosen because they were presumed (quite safely) to be loyal to the administration. Both Novak and then Cooper ran the item at face value, accepting the supposedly obvious inference that Wilson was indeed discredited; and Miller had apparently been looking to dig up dirt on Wilson after learning that he’d been Kristof’s anonymous source. All of them seem to have understood their journalistic responsibility as advancing the interests of the administration, not any [snort, guffaw] disinterested pursuit of information.