With the announcement of the Gonzales resignation, we should no doubt prepare for several days of heavy-breathing analysis about the deeper impact on the mood in Washington, on policy, on the Presidential campaign, on the War on Terror, on the Bush legacy, and so forth. My reaction to all these deep thoughts and heavy-duty historic analyses: fuhgettaboutit! The drive to push out Gonzales didn’t matter, and his ultimate resignation doesn’t matter.
Most Americans never cared about the “US Attorney Firings Scandal.” Yawn city! Bush-haters of course saw it as the ultimate evidence of the would-be-dictator’s partisan heavy-handedness, but the third of us who support the administration saw DC business as usual and the other third of disinterested Americans saw no significance or horror or flashy embarrassments. The scandal never amounted to anything before this week, and it won’t amount to anything now.
Nor will the departure of one of the President’s most loyal associates matter very much in terms of governance or policy. The AG is the most over-rated job in government, bar none. Sure, it’s a prestigious title – but looking back on all the Attorneys General in recent history, can you name one major accomplishment by any of them? Robert Kennedy comes to mind, but only because he got considerable publicity as the President’s kid brother. Can anyone even remember the Clinton AG’s?
As Attorney General, the next Bush appointment (no, I don’t expect a Democrat or a liberal) will face a huge, intractable, absurdly expensive bureaucracy that’s often hostile to the top guy (as was the case with Alberto).
The only way that an AG could make a real difference is calling for reducing the size of the Justice Department bureaucracy--- getting rid of thousands of unnecessary employees who busy themselves trying to enforce unnecessary, intrusive laws. The Civil Rights division, for instance, is an arrogant, bureaucratic, self-righteous nightmare.
We’re a lawyer-ridden society. We all suffer from two many lawsuits, too many lawyers, too many laws. A great place to start the simplification and liberation process – the only place to start any real reform agenda – is with the Justice Department itself.
If you think the nation would miss, say, 5,000 employees (at a taxpayer cost of, say, $500,000) at the Department of Justice, I’d love to see how.
As a matter of fact, maybe Bush should consider making the point of the bloated, useless, intrusive nature of the Department of Justice by leaving the post of Attorney General unfilled – and then seeing whether America somehow suffers.
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