Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Everyone Just Act Guilty

Some Republicans have defended the Bush administration's firings of the US Attorneys by pointing out that Bill Clinton fired all 93 of them at the start of his presidency.

Huh? Republicans despise Bill Clinton and all that he stands for with a vengeance. So if the best defense they can mount in defense of Bush is that he did the same thing Clinton did, well, then that's just downright laughable.

Another argument in defense of Bush has been that US Attorneys (US Attorneys are the equivalent of District Attorneys or county prosecutors, except they operate in the Federal Court system) are appointed by the President and can be fired at any time. That's true to a point, except that out of the 486 people that have held the position since the Reagan years, only five have been fired in the middle of a presidential term. The others (including those 93 fired by Clinton) have all been replaced at the beginning of a term. That's standard, much like the Cabinet is replaced when the presidency changes hands.

Even so, the White House could probably have avoided this whole mess if they had simply pointed out that US Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President. Rather than do that, however, a Justice Department spokesman first said that the eight fired US Attorneys were incompetent. That argument fell apart when it turned out most of these guys had received glowing performance reviews just a few months earlier.

Then Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez said that he didn't know anything about the firings because his Chief of Staff handled the matter. Well, that explanation hardly made Gonzalez look good. After all, the 93 US Attorneys report directly to him. They're his personal representatives in the various local jurisdictions. So to say he had no idea of such a major personnel shuffle makes him look like he has no idea what's going on around him.

At another point the White House denied any role in the firings. That worked until a bunch of emails surfaced showing otherwise. Then they tried to blame that on Harriet Meirs, who no longer works there. Again, that was fine until Carl Rove's name popped up in conjunction with some more emails.

Naturally enough, with all the changing stories and explanations and fingerpointing, it eventually starts to look like someone has something to hide. Kind of like a kid blaming his baby brother for a broken lamp even though he's an only child.

0 thoughtful ramblings: