Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Democrats, Distracted Again, By The Firing of U.S. Attorneys

Begging for dollars (Washington Monthly's annual subscription drive is on) Kevin Drum writes:
THE PURGE....Why did the Justice Department fire a bunch of U.S. Attorneys recently? Because they were too zealous in prosecuting Republican politicians? Maybe. Because the Bush administration wanted to reward one of Karl Rove's ex-aides? Definitely. Because they were insufficiently gung-ho about indicting Democrats before last year's midterm elections? That's what one of them said today:
David Iglesias said two members of Congress separately called in mid October to inquire about the timing of an ongoing probe of a kickback scheme and appeared eager for an indictment to be issued on the eve of the elections in order to benefit the Republicans. He refused to name the members of Congress because he said he feared retaliation.

....Iglesias, who received a positive performance review before he was fired, said he suspected he was forced out because of his refusal to be pressured to hand down an indictment in the ongoing probe.

"I believe that because I didn't play ball, so to speak, I was asked to resign," said Iglesias, who officially stepped down Wednesday.

This scandal started out slowly, but it's really been picking up steam as time goes by. Expect hearings soon.

We'd better hope not.

With all that there is to investigate about this administration, to waste time and the public's goodwill holding hearings on the firing of U.S. attorneys makes Democrats no better than Republicans; it's political, and to Americans who are expecting Democrats to be serious protectors of the Constitution and the nation, it's insulting.

Of course the firing of those U.S. attorneys was politically motivated. But it wasn't illegal.

U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president. They can be fired at any time and for any reason. And no, Republicans shouldn't be bad-mouthing the performances of these attorneys. They don't need to. They don't need to justify the firing. The fact that they are reaffirms for me that they hope Democrats do take a swing at them; it's good for wasting more time and space in the media instead of working on issues of relevance to Americans. Until Joe Lieberman crosses the aisle and joins the Republican Caucus, Bush's playbook for his last two years in office is more delay, stonewall and obfiscate.

I know this because the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. This is what Bush does when he's playing defense.

Bush has hired Fred Fielding to replace Harriet Miers and word has it that Fielding is there to frustrate all attempts to access paper from the Executive branch. And elsewhere, loyalists (like Gonzales) will ignite logs and roll them into Democrats (see Spartacus). The firing of U.S. attorneys is one such burning, rolling log - something perfectly legal. Political, sure, but so what?

For Chuck Schumer or any Democrat to take a swing at it tells me that Schumer is just another hack politician, worse than the Republicans because he's useless at taking them out and working on behalf of the American people.

It is two years until the next election and all we got out of Democrats from the last election in November 06 was 100 hours (less than two weeks of work in January), of the House passing bills that are unlikely to ever get signed into law. The House is already back on a 3-day work week, the Senate has held all the hearings they're going to have on Iraq and nobody is bringing the troops out. We're in full Presidential election mode two years out. How insane is that?

I hold both Hillary and Obama responsible.

They had no right hijacking the process this early, by not letting the Democratic House and Senate victories remain above the fold after the midterm elections. With their newfound majorities, Senate and House business should have superceded all Washington political news for at least a couple of months. But Obama started this even before the midterm elections. He wasn't even running for re-election, but there he was, everywhere in the media, sucking all of the oxygen out of the elections. Neither Hillary nor Obama are the answer. And I don't see anyone who is on the horizon.

A leader is going to have to emerge, naturally, who is able to effect a plan for the Al Qaeda problem. Not just the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the whole of the region, solving our energy and economic problems in a way that doesn't require war and one in which all Democrats (at the least, and including some Republicans) can rally around.

If Hillary and Obama, and any others in the race, got out of the coffee klatches in Iowa and New Hampshire, and went back to work in Washington, started doing their jobs and working towards this, I'd be interested. The nation is waiting for someone with the vision and the presence to bring Americans through what are going to be very rough times, and together with people all around the world.

But it begins with us. Americans need to reclaim the democracy, and it's going to have to come at the local level, at the grassroots, with citizens pulling together and drafting new candidates for all seats in both houses of Congress.

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