You've screwed over a friend.
Doesn't matter exactly what you've done or why. The how is important here. How you've done it is sort of secretly. Only you and your friend know exactly what you did. Thing is, what you've done to him somehow makes him look bad to other people. Makes it look like he was the one did something wrong.
But your friend is still your friend. He's an understanding and forgiving guy. He knows you made a mistake or you were under pressure from your bosses or you were thinking about the wrong thing at the wrong time, protecting your career, covering your ass, trying to get in good with somebody who could help your career or save your ass. Your friend decides to be gracious about it. When people ask what happened, he shrugs it off, comes up with an excuse that directs attention away from you and what you did. He covers for you.
When anybody asks him, he says something like, "I was planning to leave anyway."
But then the truth starts coming out. It starts getting around. You screwed your friend over for whatever reason. People don't like it. They're mad. They start asking for explanations. You're on the spot.
What do you do?
You step up to the plate, right? You come clean? You tell what happened and take your medicine. Right?
You're the kind of weasel who screws over a friend. And those pressures that "made" you do it are still there. You're not going to have a sudden attack of integrity. You lie. You take advantage of the excuse your friend invented for you. You say something like, "He was planning to leave anyway."
Trouble for you is that your friend is now facing the temptation to recover his reputation. The truth's out there now. He's got a choice. He can continue to cover for you and make himself look bad---make himself look worse because a lot of people are going to know he's covering for you, letting himself continue to look bad in order to protect you, and how dumb is he for that? People are going to ask why, since a weasel like you doesn't deserve his loyalty, what's he hiding or what's he expecting to get out of it? He must be as weaselly as you are.---or he can save his reputation just by telling the truth.
"I got screwed."
Final result of it is that you screwed your friend, everybody knows you screwed your friend, and you're looking not just like a weasel, you're looking like a stupid weasel.
Josh Marshall and the gang at TPM have been doing a good job covering the Congressional hearings on the fired US Attorneys, and it turns out one of the firings created a situation very much like what I just described.
William E. Moschella, Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General said that one of the reasons the Department had relieved [federal prosecutor Bud] Cummins of Arkansas was that he'd "indicated" earlier that he did not plan to complete his term. Not so, said Cummins, when his turn came to testify. According to Cummins, the only time he'd said anything like that was after he'd already stepped down.
"I was trying to be discreet," he said.
In other words, he was trying to paper over what had happened and provide his DOJ bosses with an alibi. And Moschella took Cummins' white lie and tried to use it as a rationale for his dismissal.
Looks like Cummins was trying to be a good soldier or at least being careful not to burn his bridges. But then Moschella tried to use Cummins as an excuse, essentially trying to say that the fact Cummins wasn't fired for bad performance, he was just being hurried out a door he was already walking towards, proves that the other prosecutors were fired for their bad performance. He was making Cummins take part in the overall lie.
I don't know if under other circumstances Cummins would have continued to be "discreet," don't know long he'd have played along, if he would have played along, if he'd have let himself be used like that indefinitely. Under oath, though, he had a choice, play the patsy or tell the truth.
It's one thing among many, but it's not a small thing. Moschella appears to have expected that Cummins would continue to play the patsy. Or he thought, or at least hoped, that people would think Cummins was lying.
This is how the Bush Leaguers treat their "friends." Cummins was trying to help them out and Moschella was willing to either use him as a stooge or throw him under the bus.
Weasels like Moschella exist and thrive everywhere. There's nothing peculiarly Republican about him. The best Presidents have had their Moschellas. What makes the Bush Leaguers different is that they've filled their Administration with Moschellas. From Bush on down, everybody in that White House looks at everybody else as being there to be used. Exhibit A: Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby.
This is the essential corruption of the Bush Administration. Of the national Republican Party as reconstituted by Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich, and Tom DeLay. For all these guys, the point of politics is power. You go into politics in order to be the guys in charge. And you want to be in charge so you can do whatever you want. Everything in the Bush Administration is politicized because everything is about the people running the show having the power to run the show.. That's what the man meant when he called them the Mayberry Machiavellis. They don't do anything for the public good.
The Plame Case, the firing of the Attorneys, the handling of the war in Iraq, the scandal at Walter Reed, the holy mess they made in New Orleans, and more, all are the result of questions that should have been addressed apolitically---maintaining the cover of our spies, pursuing and prosecuting criminals, sending our troops into harm's way and taking care of the wounded when they come home, protecting people from natural disasters and rescuing them when they can't be protected, drug safety, food inspection, dealing with climate change---but were all decided on purely political grounds, on giving the power to do whatever they want to the Bush Leaguers' friends and cronies and by extension to the President and Vice-President.
Sometimes the power has been directly given (in the way spoils of war are given to the king's generals and officers, with the king being sure to take his greater share) to people in the Administration. More often it's been given indirectly to friends outside the Administration by freeing them from fear of regulation, government oversight, and accountability. They've been granted the power to make themselves rich and richer pretty much however they want to go about it.
When your guiding philosophy is the accumulation of power, what kind of people are you going to attract to your side? What kind of people are you going to want to hire? What kind of people will the people you hire want to hire?
Scroll back to the top of the post for the answer.