Wednesday, March 14, 2007

More “Much Ado About Nothing”

From Congressional Democrats

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is under fire for the way the Justice Department handled the firing of eight federal prosecutors. From all the whining, stamping of feet and gnashing of teeth from Democrats, you might think it is a big deal. It's not.

Here’s the way it is, folks: U.S. Attorneys serve at the will and pleasure of the President of the United States; he can dismiss them for any—ANY—reason, or for no reason at all. ANY reason or NO reason.


End of story.

So, it doesn’t matter if the prosecutors were fired because the White House didn’t like who they were or were not prosecuting. It doesn’t matter if the firings were discussed for two or three years prior to their dismissal. It doesn’t matter if Harry Reid, or Charles Schumer or anyone else doesn’t approve of what was done or how it was done. Desperate for material, the Democrats charge that the dismissals were politically motivated. Well, duh! That demonstrates only that Democrats have a grasp of the obvious: Being a U.S. Attorney is a political job. And if you have any doubt of any of the preceding, review the firing of all 93 federal prosecutors by the Clinton administration

Janet Reno, Bill Clinton’s Attorney General, simultaneously fired all 93 U.S. Attorneys in March 1993. Ms. Reno gave them 10 days to move out of their offices. All at once. Not eight. Ninety-three. Did I mention that Ms. Reno fired them all at the same time?

The glib Mr. Clinton, who was always believed by the media and his base, presented the move as something perfectly ordinary: "All those people are routinely replaced," he told reporters, "and I have not done anything differently." No one questioned that.

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, as the action of Mr. Bush’s administration has done. Wonder why no one is talking about that?

Because that is a losing argument, that’s why. And the Democrats can’t afford to let that happen, and the media isn’t going to let that happen, either, so they try to shift the focus to silly details that really don’t matter, and try to blow them all out of proportion to distract our attention from truly important matters, such as the Islamic terrorism threat.

And if it’s the politics that bothers you, consider this: At the time Janet Reno cleaned house, Jay Stephens, then U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia, was investigating then Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski, and was about to make a decision on an indictment. Mr. Rostenkowski, who was pushing the Clinton's economic program through Congress, eventually went to jail on mail fraud charges and was later pardoned by Mr. Clinton. Hmmm.

Mr. Gonzales biggest sin, if there is one, is that he told Congress that he would do things one way, and then did things another way. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Naughty boy, Alberto. But the administration is the administration and the Congress is the Congress, and they are co-equal. The administration does not have to get approval from the Congress to run the country; that’s its job.

Summed up, this hasn’t been a pretty thing, but “ugly” isn’t criminal, and politics is politics, and this episode doesn’t warrant the Attorney General’s hide. What is warranted is a little guts from the administration to stand up and tell people to sit down and shut up!

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