View From The Middle
By Charles Rogers
Eight U.S. attorneys were recently fired on Capitol Hill and all hell has broken loose. There are usually 93 U.S. attorneys who serve throughout the country doing their prosecutorial thing for the federal government. They are chosen - or appointed - usually by the reigning administration and are sworn into office at about the same time the president is sworn in. Although they are made up mostly of members of the same political party as the president, they don't have to be and, just to show what a good guy the president is, a few members of the opposite party are thrown in. Very few.
Now, during that same transitional period when administrations are changing, the U.S. attorneys who served under the outgoing administration are fired. It's a sort of expected thing, don'tcha know; a Rite of New Office, so to speak. The Clinton White House did it, with a few suspicions that there were some scandals a-brewing; He fired 'em all and started anew; before him, Reagan did the same thing. Fired 'em all. So did Nixon and Carter and Ike and…You get the drift. It was their prerogative because, after all, the president hired them, along with the Attorney General (AG), and they served at his - and the AG's - beck and call. Anyone who thinks, or supposes, or pretends to suppose differently, is either very du…er, very ignorant or has an entirely different agenda.
It could therefore be at the whim of the president - by way of the AG - to get rid of the attorneys, all or part. Since these eight were let go, people are trying to find out why. Was it at the whim of AG Alberto Gonzales, who has been in office only a matter of months? He's a great friend of George W. Bush and has served as a sidekick from way back in the days when the president was the governor of Texas. He became the president's chief attorney when he went to the White House and eventually was named AG. Yeah. They're good buddies. He says the fired attorneys were let go because of "incompetence," or "underperformance," or at least his chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, said so. On the other hand, could it have been political in that somebody might have come too close in investigating a scandal or two?
Enter our old Canarsie friend Charles Schumer (we call him Chuck).
He certainly jumped on this one. I'm truly surprised he didn't find something a little heavier, but, wise manipulator that he is, he has made a huge mountain out of this molehill. We know he has to be the "bad guy," so to speak; the guy who looks very hard for openings so he can lay plans, politically, for the 2008-and-then-some elections. This is what he does - and very well, most of the time. Hell, you can't turn your television on without seeing him once a day promoting his party.
This time, though, he went overboard - but it worked. He threw the pass and the media immediately latched onto the ball and now they've made it a big deal; a bigger deal than it should be. He's seen to it that White House political strategist Karl Rove's name is brought up and will probably try to get him, along with Gonzales, subpoenaed to attend a committee hearing on the whole business. At the same time, Schumer said he feels Gonzales will be fired, or resign, or will meet the same fate as the heretofore-oft-mentioned eight attorneys "within a week."
One of the most troubling facets of the entire case, though, is the overall case itself: FIRING EIGHT U.S. ATTORNEYS - OUT OF 94 - IS NOT THAT BIG A DEAL!