It’s amusing, if not astonishing, to hear Republican apologists for the Bush Administration try to explain the recent firing of eight U.S. Attorneys. Their constant refrain is simple: these attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President. Therefore, when he fires one or more, it’s no big deal. He is simply not "pleased" with them.
But what has been apparent from the beginning—aside from the fact that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is a pathetically clumsy liar, definitely a disadvantage in this administration—is that the eight U.S. attorneys were fired for purely political reasons. One way or another, they failed to follow the administration’s directives to investigate and harrass Democrats, while overlooking the crimes of Republicans. And according to the apologists, there’s nothing wrong with that. Happens all the time. Why even Bill Clinton, we are told, fired 93 U.S. attorneys when he entered the White House. The current brouhaha amounts to nothing more than political theater by the Democrats.
Lost in all this discussion, especially by the compliant media which eats up the political explanation completely, is the name of the organization involved here: the Department of Justice. That’s justice, as in "justice for all," from that precious Pledge of Allegiance the Republicans are always trotting out for veneration. These are United States attorneys, responsible for the administration and prosecution of justice in their several states. They are the visible representatives of the Law, of the putatively impartial legal system which makes the United States of America unique in all the world. And which young Americans are expected to defend with their lives if necessary.
And yet. We are told by the apologists that, in truth, these U.S. Attorneys are political appointees serving at the pleasure of the President. We are told that everyone agrees they are political hacks who, in this administration’s eyes, are meant to be simply another arm of the conservative political machinery commissioned to smite the administration’s enemies and cover up for its friends.
And Justice? The impartial application of the law? Why that’s as quaint as the Geneva Conventions were said to be by this same Attorney General when he was the president’s legal counsel.
And the strangest, saddest thing of all is that the media hacks and pundits who present all this for us seem to find the absence of the central issue—justice—completely unremarkable. Am I crazy, or has not a deadly cynicism crept over the land?