Friday, March 23, 2007

In which another Washington columnist completely misses the point

I'm continually astounded by the ability of the political media to completely miss the point of the current US Attorneys scandal.

It's not about George Bush's right to hire people to his liking. It's about our right to be sure those people are both capable of doing the job and independent in how they prosecute cases.

Citing David Brooks, Michael Kinsley argues that some of the attorneys were fired for "good" political reasons while others were fired for "bad" political reasons.
[H]e nails a distinction that I, at least, was struggling with. Brooks’s distinction is between two different conceptions of the word “political.” Or rather, like most nice clear distinctions, there actually is a spectrum of meaning.
The idea that a man could work for decades on the political beat and not be aware of the spectrum of meanings for the word "political" is simply baffling to me.

But aside from that, we constantly see this myopic focus on George Bush's right to hire and fire attorneys whenever he pleases.

He doesn't have the right hire to anyone he wants. He has the right to nominate anyone he wants.
"If Karl Rove had gotten his way and Bush had fired all 93 US Attorneys at the beginning of his second term would you actually have shrugged it off as no big deal?"
First of all, they did fire all the attorneys at the start of their first term.

But the central point here is that they wanted to replace attorneys who had gone through the Senate confirmation process with others who were loyal to the president alone.

All this concern about the president's right to name and dismiss attorneys at his own pleasure, ignores the fact that these officials are also supposed to be accountable to the public at large.

So, no. I wouldn't have shrugged it off.

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