The Attorney General's "Monica" Problem
Last month, when Alberto R. Gonzales figuratively flipped off the Senate Judiciary Committee with his evasive, incomplete and simply incredible answers, there were loud rumblings by leaders in both parties that perhaps it was indeed time for him to end his miserable tenure as the 80th Attorney General of the United States. Last week, however, when Gonzales virtually repeated his lame performance, this time before the House Judiciary Committee, there was barely a peep of protest. Gonzales and his dwindling group of cronies at the Justice Department took note of this receding anger and frustration and were said to be expressing growing confidence that this inapt and inept leader would somehow survive in office. The rip-tide against him was said to have ebbed.
But then comes a story like the one in Saturday's New York Times, again about the hiring practices of former Justice Department official Monica Goodlling, which ought to chill the blood of every politican-- Republican, Democrat, LIbertarian or otherwise-- who values an independent and competent core of federal attorneys. Here is how Eric Lipton of the Times put it: "Ms. Goodling would soon be quizzing applicants for civil service jobs at Justice Department headquarters with questions that several United States attorneys said where inappropriate, like who was their favorite president and Supreme Court justice. One department official said an applicant was even asked 'have you ever cheated on your wife?'... and [Goodling] helped maintain lists of all the United States attorneys that graded their loyalty to the Bush Administration, including work on past political campaigns, and noted if they were members of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group."
If you read Lipton's piece carefully, you recognize in it the same patterns of behavior we've heard about before from and among Justice Department officials. Goodling, for example, was as zealous a partisan hack at the Department as was D. Kyle Sampson, Gonzales' former deputy chief of staff, who helped coordinate the firing of the eight (now perhaps nine) U.S. Attorneys last year. Partisanship over professionalism; cronyism over competence; loyalty over logic. It's so pervasive that for Gonzales now to claim, as he has repeatedly, that he was unaware of it--- or worse, that he was aware of it but thinks it is nothing out of the ordinary or otherwise inappropriate-- should long ago have sealed his fate as the nation's top law enforcement official. Any supervisor would long ago have fired any manager who has acted the way that Gonzales has acted throughout this mess.
Indeed, there is a reason this sort of information-- the Goodling story, the story of the "ninth" fired prosecutor-- keeps leaking out from the Justice Department. We are seeing anonymous bureaucratic pushback not because of whiny lawyers who see an opportunity to criticize their boss but because what Gonzales and Company have sought to do there is simply beyond the realm of anything that has been allowed to occur before. The Attorney General is simply flaunting this sea-change at Justice; either that or he is going to shove the subordinates he directed under the bus to protect his own skin. Does that sort of leader deserve respect, or the continued ability to lead? You tell me.
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: Jim DeVanna | May 13, 2007 10:12 AM
Posted by: wrb | May 13, 2007 10:39 AM
Posted by: Alan | May 13, 2007 11:26 AM
Posted by: Alan | May 13, 2007 11:59 AM
Posted by: MaryAnne | May 13, 2007 02:36 PM
Posted by: JP2 | May 13, 2007 07:58 PM
Posted by: P. Bosley Slogthrop | May 14, 2007 07:48 AM
Posted by: braultrl | May 14, 2007 11:00 AM
Posted by: Lance | May 14, 2007 12:30 PM
Posted by: Henry Adams | May 14, 2007 12:38 PM
Posted by: WOW | May 14, 2007 06:01 PM
Posted by: Rozinante2 | May 15, 2007 02:46 PM
Posted by: the Don | May 15, 2007 06:58 PM
The comments to this entry are closed.