Some Democrats are just so stupid they seem to think that “this time Bush is acting out of sincerity and integrity.” Over and over again, on issues like the Roberts nomination, FISA, and No Child Left Behind, Democrats absurdly and completely undeservingly give Bush “the benefit of the doubt.” Chuck Schumer may be self-amorous and prone to bloviating, but I don’t think of him as stupid. But if he wasn’t being stupid, he was simply being self-serving when he thrust Attorney General Michael Mukasey upon this beleaguered nation.
At the time, Attorney General Gonzales had become an embarrassment to the Bush administration, and any of Bush’s picks for his successor would have been met with serious scrutiny. When Mukasey’s name came up, most people in the legal profession nodded their heads. Here was a Federal judge from the Southern District of New York with experience handling terrorism cases. He would make a good CANDIDATE for Attorney General. But old Chucky jumped the gun.
Maybe it was a New York thing- Schumer thinking he’d somehow be more empowered with a terrible New Yorker as Attorney General than he would be with an Attorney General from somewhere else. But once a “leading Democrat” came out in support of the Bush nomination, the battle was over. ‘How did Mukasey feel about torture?’ It didn’t matter. ‘Executive overreach?’ It didn’t matter. ‘Civil liberties in the war on terror?’ Who cares? The motus operandi for the Bush administration since Day 1 has been to cobble together 51 votes and give everyone else the finger. Schumer jumping the gun cost us a serious discussion of who would replace Gonzales as the nation’s top law enforcer.
To Mukasey’s credit, he had a distinguished career in the legal profession, and many of the senior partners I spoke with about him this summer discussed him as a ‘good judge’ or a ‘fair judge’. Then the Goodling Scandal officially broke.
To back up, consider Regent University School of Law. Under Gonzales, with Monica Goodling as head of hiring, Regent, a 4-Tier law school founded by Pat Roberston, became one of the top feeder schools for the Department of Justice. Its Law Review is "committed to a jurisprudence based upon a Higher Law; that is, law based upon the Law of God.” Goodling, a graduate herself, hired Regent graduates as she "forced many very talented, career people out of main Justice so she could replace them with junior people that were either loyal to the administration or would score her some points” (Washington Post).
Among the legal community, especially strung out, job-hunting law students, rumors of bias at the DOJ have abounded for years. But recently, a series of internal Justice Department reports have revealed that Goodling’s office blocked hirings for both political reasons, such as refusing to hire an experienced counter-terrorism prosecutor because of his wife’s involvement in Democratic politics, and personal reasons, such as rumors that a U.S attorney was engaging in homosexual activity. For entry-level positions, signs of liberal leanings were nearly automatic disqualifications, in breach of the DOJ’s longstanding tradition to value merit over ideology in its hiring process. The report, which mind you, comes from the DOJ itself, alleges that Goodling almost certainly violated federal laws and Department of Justice policy.
Which brings us to Mukasey, who announced yesterday that he would NOT prosecute Goodling, or at this point, anyone else associated with the worst Justice Department scandal in its history. Mukasey noted that “negative publicity is punishment enough” for the perpetrators. The New York Times responded, in disbelief, “Mukasey is more interested in defending the Bush administration than enforcing the law. His speech to the bar association is further evidence that, like his predecessor, he cares more about politics than justice.” Mukasey will now go down in history with Ashcroft and Gonzales as the triumvirate that brought greater disgrace to the venerable Department of Justice than any administration in history. Of all of Bush’s failures, his management of respecting and enforcing our nation’s laws rank very near the top.
This scandal, like Katrina scandals, hits close to home for me. When I left behind the best work of my life to start law school, I envisioned a career path that would take me to the DOJ, a place known for fighting corruption, white collar crime, international cartels, illegal monopolies, civil rights violators… I’ve spent the last few weeks staring at my DOJ Honors Program application, wondering if I would finish it, wondering who would read it. I stare at my first choice, the Civil Rights Division, recognizing that the legendary branch of the DOJ that brought lawsuits for African-American voting rights hasn't launched such a suit since Bush became president, instead creating the Freedom of Faith task force to fight for freedom of religious expression in schools.
Mukasey’s exoneration (because that’s what not prosecuting a crime is) of Goodling’s behavior confirms that the loathsome insects who have infested the Justice Department for the last seven and a half years continue to suck the blood out of the constitution and the American people. They cannot be trusted, and they have shamed themselves before this country. And to Chuck Shumer- thanks a lot, I hope you’re learned that being important can be less important than being right.
For an excellent article on the Goodling scandal and Regent University School of Law, see Dahlia Lithwick’s, “How Pat Robertson’s Law School is changing America” at http://www.slate.com/id/2163601/ .