Bending the Third Rail
Because We Should, We Can, We Do
Monday, March 19, 2007
From McClatchey this morning regarding the prosecutor purge:
"Maintaining that independence, without fear of repercussions, is the bedrock principle at stake in the controversy over the firings of eight U.S. attorneys. As the top law enforcement official in each of their jurisdictions, these federal prosecutors have the power to destroy reputations, careers and even lives.

"They're political appointees, but they're supposed to follow the evidence wherever it leads, without fear or favor. While presidents have the power to remove them for any reason, tradition holds that prosecutors should stay on the job unless they're corrupt or incompetent."
There is an inherent tension between being an political appointee and remaining independent. This tension has led to problems in the past, but as with everything Bush, nothing like this. And I'm not sure we should change the system, i.e. make U.S. prosecutors civil service employees.

The Constitution and our government depend on the democratic goodwill of it's leaders. You could never write all the rules, laws and regulations necessary to maintain a free society and to maintain a check on our leaders, although there are plenty around. Bush has aptly demonstrated this political reality that is rooted in Poly Sci 101, and Bush has given the nation a refresher course in the idea. The other part of the goodwill equation is when those in charge of checks and balances exercise their democratic goodwill in the instances of leadership overreach, providing oversight and holding our leaders accountable. Unfortunately, we've not seen much of that during Bush's administration. Whether we ultimately will and the ship-of-state will right itself is very much an open question.

Added: Many in the news media are opining that the prosecutor purge is the result of incompetence and insularity.


This latest scandal, like all others, is a full throated implementation of conservative GOP ideology and political practice. To call it incompetence is to minimize this dangerous fact.

Meanwhile, much much more continues to come out on the story. It's difficult to keep up with it all.