The Wall Street Journal is upset that Sen. Harry Reid is politicizing the pending nomination for Attorney General.
“Ted Olson will not be confirmed,” declares Senate Majority Leader Reid. “He’s a partisan, and the last thing we need as an Attorney General is a partisan.” That standard could certainly stand some fleshing out. As “partisans” go, Mr. Olson doesn’t come close to Bobby Kennedy, the brother of JFK; or Griffin Bell, close friend of Jimmy Carter (and a fine AG); or for that matter Janet Reno’s Justice Department, which was run for years not by Ms. Reno but behind the scenes by close friend of Hillary Clinton and hyper-partisan Jamie Gorelick.
Selective memory? Do we really need to go further back than Alberto Gonzales to find a partisan Attorney General?
… the real Democratic game was given away by none other than Mr. Leahy, whose own “partisanship” is so raw he can’t disguise it. Number Two on Mr. Leahy’s helpful “Checklist for Choosing the Next Attorney General” is this: “A proven track record of independence to ensure that he or she will act as an independent check on this Administration’s expansive claims of virtually unlimited executive power.”
The belief that the president is bound from unlimited powers is not a partisan position, since it requires only an honest reading of our Constitution. <sarcasm>Although, to be fair, I do see the point that advocating for an Attorney General who will acquiesce to the Decider’s legal preferences isn’t raw partisanship.</sarcasm>
I won’t argue that Mr. Olson can’t be the independent official that Democrats claim to want. Members of Congress should make the case for why Mr. Olson isn’t qualified if/when he’s nominated. But the Journal’s editors should acknowledge that whoever becomes the next Attorney General should not expect his/her job to include being a “legal advisor to the president.” Let President Bush hire qualified White House counsel instead.
We should not shy away from an independent Attorney General, even if it’s a new idea because the founders rejected it. It is possible that we might have a better, broader understanding of effective limited government. As we’ve learned, though, the Journal’s editors are in no way interested in limited. And they’re often good at demonstrating no concern for effective.