I work in the private sector. My boss can fire me because she is having a bad day. She does not need anyone's permission. These people have failed to prosecute leak cases, they have not prosecuted cases concerning everything from illegal immigration to voter fraud. I say it is time some of them got fired, just to put the fear of God in the rest of them. And while I agree that there was some ineptitude in the handling of the situation it should be noted that is not exactly unusual in government. If that were reason for throwing people out of government the Democrats would lose their majority right now.
This scandalette has seemed like a tempest in a teapot. Yes, it was ineptly handled and the indication that Senator Pete Domenici was calling the prosecutors to find out the course of cases is distasteful, but these were Bush-appointed attorneys and he had every right to fire them. This had, apparently, been in the works for a long time and happened now because they waited until a new law went into effect giving the president the power to appoint interim Attorneys. The administration handled this poorly and doesn't seem aware of what was going on in his own department as his deputy plotted with the White House to fire some of these attorneys. Yes, Virginia, there is politics in political jobs.
And what a surprise; they go in front of Congress to say that there was no reason for their being fired.
But the hypocrisy of the Democrats moaning and groaning about the politicization of these jobs is just priceless. The Wall Street Journal reminds us today of how Bill Clinton handled the politicization of the justice system and US Attorneys. For all those with short memories, let us remember the first year of Clinton's presidency when he fired all 93 US Attorneys.
At the time, President Clinton presented the move as something perfectly ordinary: "All those people are routinely replaced," he told reporters, "and I have not done anything differently." In fact, the dismissals were unprecedented: Previous Presidents, including Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, had both retained holdovers from the previous Administration and only replaced them gradually as their tenures expired. This allowed continuity of leadership within the U.S. Attorney offices during the transition.
Equally extraordinary were the politics at play in the firings. At the time, Jay Stephens, then U.S. Attorney in Chicago, was investigating then Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski, and was "within 30 days" of making a decision on an indictment. Mr. Rostenkowski, who was shepherding the Clinton's economic program through Congress, eventually went to jail on mail fraud charges and was later pardoned by Mr. Clinton.
Also at the time, allegations concerning some of the Clintons' Whitewater dealings were coming to a head. By dismissing all 93 U.S. Attorneys at once, the Clintons conveniently cleared the decks to appoint "Friend of Bill" Paula Casey as the U.S. Attorney for Little Rock. Ms. Casey never did bring any big Whitewater indictments, and she rejected information from another FOB, David Hale, on the business practices of the Arkansas elite including Mr. Clinton. When it comes to "politicizing" Justice, in short, the Bush White House is full of amateurs compared to the Clintons.