“You had me at ‘gutless'”

I didn’t even have to read Dick Morris’ article to know that I liked it. Here’s the tag for the article at Front Page Magazine: “Only gutless Republicans could turn the U.S. Attorney firings into a budding constitutional crisis.” Well, yeah. The Democrats scream bloody murder over the political equivalent of a hangnail, while the White House politely allows itself to be disemboweled. I’m all for good matters, restraint, and a functional and friendly atmosphere in D.C., but this rollover on the faked attorney scandal leaves me almost breathless. You can’t win in politics if you’ve got nothing even resembling backbone, and are missing some significant guts to boot.*

Morris’ article, by the way, lives up to its promise. I’m quoting at length here, because I really didn’t have the heart to leave any of this off my blog. However, there’s much more to the original article, and you’d probably enjoy reading the whole thing:

When will the Bush administration grow some guts? Except for its resolute — read: stubborn — position on Iraq, the White House seems incapable of standing up for itself and battling for its point of view. The Democratic assault on the administration over the dismissal of United States attorneys is the most fabricated and phony of scandals, but the Bush people offer only craven apologies, half-hearted defenses, and concessions. Instead, they should stand up to the Democrats and defend the conduct of their own Justice Department.

There is no question that the attorney general and the president can dismiss United States attorneys at any time and for any reason. We do not have civil servant U.S. attorneys but maintain the process of presidential appointment for a very good reason: We consider who prosecutes whom and for what to be a question of public policy that should reflect the president’s priorities and objectives. When a U.S. attorney chooses to go light in prosecuting voter fraud and political corruption, it is completely understandable and totally legitimate for a president and an attorney general to decide to fire him or her and appoint a replacement who will do so.

The Democratic attempt to attack Bush for exercising his presidential power to dismiss employees who serve at his pleasure smacks of nothing so much as the trumped-up grounds for the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson in 1868. Back then, radical Republicans tried to oust him for failing to obey the Tenure of Office Act, which they passed, barring him from firing members of his Cabinet (in this case, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton) without Senate approval. Soon after Johnson’s acquittal, the Supreme Court invalidated the Tenure of Office Act, in effect affirming Johnson’s position.

But instead of loudly asserting its view that voter fraud is, indeed, worthy of prosecution and that U.S. attorneys who treat such cases lightly need to go find new jobs, the Bush administration acts, for all the world, like the kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. All Republican supporters of the administration can do is to point to Bill Clinton’s replacement of U.S. attorneys when he took office. Because the president and the attorney general insist on acting guilty, the rest of the country has no difficulty in assuming that they are.

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*Mr. Bookworm was listening to NPR this morning, and played the “readers letters.” As to the attorney “scandal,” the letter deemed most representative of the many that came from NPR listeners on that subject essentially said if the White House officials have nothing to hide, why don’t they just walk into Congress, take an oath, and expose themselves to the Democratic party for testimony.

I thought the “innocent people have nothing to hide” tactic was fascinating, since it has never seemed to sway the liberals in the area of terrorism. That is, they’re horrified by the Patriot Act because it pries into areas where they say it has no business being, because it might expose innocent people doing innocent things. Yet they’re asking White House operatives to walk into the enemy’s lair (and that’s what Congress has become with the switch in majorities) without a blink or second thought. The inconsistency is especially interesting considering that they’re demanding that people give up manifest constitutional rights for a political witch hunt, but are loath to ask for a possible limitation in some rights in order to stop potentially apocalyptic slaughter. Hmmm….

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