In 2007, I wrote a little bit about the United States Attorney scandal that rocked the administration of President George W. Bush (R) around that time. Bush had fired seven federal prosecutors—all of which are presidential appointees—for apparently political reasons. This may well have been politically unpopular, and it may well have been a bad or even immoral decision depending on the circumstances, but it was in no way illegal. Presidential appointees serve at the pleasure of the president, and can be legally removed at any time for pretty much any reason.
The real scandal at that time, which did not directly involve Bush at all, was that then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez lied under oath about the firings. That, my friends, is perjury . . . even if he was being questioned over something completely pointless and stupid. That’s something President Bill Clinton (D) learned almost a decade earlier; lying under oath is a crime, whether or not the thing you’re being questioned about is.
Now a new scandal is rocking President Barack Obama’s (D) White House, and again I’m a little perplexed. Apparently, when Obama put his support behind Senator Arlen Specter’s (D-PA) bid for reelection, he indirectly contacted Representative Joe Sestak (D-PA 7th) through former President Clinton in an effort to keep him from running against Specter in a potentially damaging Democratic primary. These discussions involved options for un-paid positions in the Obama administration if Sestak chose to stay in the House and let Specter stand as the Democratic candidate for the Senate. Sestak chose not to accept Obama’s offer and went on to defeat Specter in the primary. Sestak will stand for election to the Senate in November against Representative Pat Toomey (R-PA 15th).
Now some Republicans are calling for a Special Prosecutor and a long, drawn-out investigation into what went on . . . despite there being no evidence whatsoever that any law was broken. We do have a word for what went on here: politics. The trading in executive branch positions for political reasons is part of our politics and is not illegal. Obama should be criticized by the pundits and people for what he did, especially since he campaigned against this kind of ‘politics as usual’ quid-pro-quo stuff, but to act as if he broke a law is just plain silly. From what I can see, he didn’t.
If we’re going to have a Special Prosecutor for anything, it should be the Bush/Obama bailout bonanza. Our federal government buying General Motors and dumping billions-upon-billions of dollars into Wall St. bigwigs’ pockets actually was a crime, as it was a direct violation of the plain text of the United States Constitution. Let’s look into the TARP bailout under Bush too; I’m reasonably certain that if Congress writes a law saying ‘do X with this money,’ and then the president does Y with it . . . well I think that’s probably a crime too. There have been near-constant real examples of our government officials violating the law since the autumn of 2008; let’s stay focused on them!