It's Hard to Find Good People These Days
The federal prosecutor scandal isn't just some theoretical fight over ideology and power. It has real consequences and here are just two of the latest examples that have come to our attention thanks to good reporting by good journalists.
The excellent reporters at McClatchy tell us that the controversy seems to be dragging down the pace of applicants for the position of U.S. Attorney. And, really, can you blame anyone? If you were a good and seasoned attorney with political connections-- or, more likely a political hack who wanted to pad your resume for future public office-- would you want to go through the ringer these days to get to the Justice Department so that Alberto R. Gonzales could be your boss? Didn't think so.
Nor should you be surprised that the administration's practices toward the hiring of immigration judges has generated a cadre of.... unprepared and unworthy judges! As Richard B. Schmitt wrote in Saturday's Los Angeles Times: "Over the last two years, U.S. Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales has appointed more than two dozen individuals as federal immigration judges. The new jurists include a former treasurer of the Louisiana Republican Party, who was a legal advisor to the Bush Florida recount team after the 2000 presidential election. There is also a former GOP congressional aide who had tracked voter fraud issues for the Justice Department, and a Texan appointed by then-Gov. George W. Bush to a seat on the state library commission. One thing missing on many of their resumes: a background in immigration law. These lawyers are among a growing number of the nation's more than 200 immigration judges who have little or no experience in the law they were appointed to enforce."
A scandal, no? No, according to two former Justice Department officials. Sensing the end is near for Gonzales' tenure as Attorney General, and perhaps thinking they deserve a look-see when the White House trawls for replacements, these two otherwise bright lawyers jumped into the public debate over the U.S. Attorney scandal with a bang. They wrote an op-ed saying all the "right" things about the controversy, the role of Justice Department officials, and the broad nature of presidential power. The scandal is no scandal, wrote Lee A. Casey and David B. Rivkin, Jr., and the Congressional investigations are pointless. And never mind the turmoil at the Department or Gonzales' horrible perfomances before and after his appearances on Capitol Hill.
The public job application offered by Rivkin and Casey was only one of several interesting reads over the holiday weekend. Newsweek's heavy hitters, Michael Isikoff and Evan Thomas, weighed in with a piece that tried (and failed if you ask me) to compare the environment surrounding the Attorney General with the environment that surrounded the Justice Department during the Watergate scandal. And the Washington Post's Dan Eggen had another great piece about how the Justice Department may have skirted the law when it came to hiring decisions long before Monica Goodling fouled the nest.
Welcome back to work. And buckle up for what figures to be an interesting few days in the life of this story.
By Andrew Cohen |
May 29, 2007; 8:05 AM ET
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