Tipping the Scales of Governance

It is in the nature of government—at least as it presently exists—that political interests sometimes conflict with and even hold sway over public interests. By and large, as long as the scales of governance remain weighted toward the common good, the impingement of politics is tolerable. In the last 6+ years, however, the scales have increasingly shifted away from what is in the best interests of the majority of Americans to what serves the narrow interests of the Bush political machine and its acquisitive allies. The recent firing of several highly-regarded U.S. attorneys highlights this troubling trend, as noted in the following New York Times editorial:

Why Have So Many U.S. Attorneys Been Fired? It Looks a Lot Like Politics

Carol Lam, the former United States attorney for San Diego, is smart and tireless and was very good at her job. Her investigation of Representative Randy Cunningham resulted in a guilty plea for taking more than $2 million in bribes from defense contractors and a sentence of more than eight years. Two weeks ago, she indicted Kyle Dustin Foggo, the former No. 3 official in the C.I.A. The defense-contracting scandal she pursued so vigorously could yet drag in other politicians.

In many Justice Departments, her record would have won her awards, and perhaps a promotion to a top post in Washington. In the Bush Justice Department, it got her fired.

Ms. Lam is one of at least seven United States attorneys fired recently under questionable circumstances. The Justice Department is claiming that Ms. Lam and other well-regarded prosecutors like John McKay of Seattle, David Iglesias of New Mexico, Daniel Bogden of Nevada and Paul Charlton of Arizona — who all received strong job evaluations — performed inadequately.

It is hard to call what’s happening anything other than a political purge. And it’s another shameful example of how in the Bush administration, everything — from rebuilding a hurricane-ravaged city to allocating homeland security dollars to invading Iraq — is sacrificed to partisan politics and winning elections. [full text]