It also seems clear that these changes are a result of Democrats' fear of the damage a rogue Office of Special Counsel can do to election ambitions. This is a wise fear. Members of the Bush Administration can affirm--it is possible for the Special Counsel and the opposing political party's pursuit of Hatch Act violations to go too far. The last guy to hold the job at OSC, Scott Bloch, did just that.
During the Bush Administration Scott Bloch falsified investigation data, engaged in cover-ups, purged government computers to hide his actions, and conducted a propaganda campaign on blogs against his targets (of which I was one). Leading Democrats and the main stream media, meanwhile, were willing accomplices in these shenanigans for it supported their broader goal of discrediting political opponents.
The Hatch Act, essentially, allowed a rogue Special Counsel, such as Bloch, to commandeer the vast investigatory powers of the OSC while running roughshod over the justice system, for political and personal gain.
Unfortunately, these efforts were not only supported, but egged on, by Democrat political operatives, such as Congress Waxman, who skillfully exploited the Hatch Act as a way to attack the Bush Administration and help Democrats gain an edge over Republicans in the upcoming election. Moreover, even after multiple indictments by a Grand Jury and an admission of guilt, Mr. Bloch has escaped any punishment for his crimes.
So Democrats are worried that the precedents, set by Waxman and Bloch, might be repeated, only this time directed at members of the Obama Administration. This, too, is a justifiable fear, so now the Obama Administration is arguing that the Hatch Act is "overly restrictive", while the Washington Post expresses worry that the statute "sweeps too broadly" and worries about "the unduly draconian penalty structure".
As all of these folks well understand, oversight, whether federal, state or local in its pursuit, isn't always consistent, unbiased, competent, or free of taint. Having participated in the past in making political hay with the Hatch Act, they understand better than anyone that in the hands of unscrupulous zealots, the Hatch Act can be used as an effective tool to beat up one's opponents.
One question that Republicans might ask is: Does the recent Washington Post editorial calling for changes in Hatch Act investigations serve as the proverbial canary in the coal mine? Is this sudden conversion of the mainstream media timed to help rationalize possible future transgressions within the Obama Administration--and if so, how bad are they?
Another question: Why has there been such a dramatic flip-flop in the media's position concerning the potential for misuse of the Hatch Act? Or, is this just another example of the mainstream media's bias favoring Democrats?
Or, hold on to your hat here, is it possible that, at long last, Democrats and the enablers in the media have finally understood the damage they unleashed and the unfairness of their endeavors? One can only hope.
Americans can hope too, that, should a Republican president be elected come November, the Washington Post won't flop back to the flip (or is it flipping back the flop?) and insist that the "draconian" Hatch Act is needed after all and find space, once again, on page 1 to abuse a new crop of Republican political appointees.