The Corner

Gonzales & The US Attorneys Cont’d

Orin Kerr over at the VC has a useful rejoinder to critics complaining they’re not covering the story enough:

First, I would like to clear up something: Of course we are all political hacks! Our secret trick is that we alternate which side to spin: sometimes we are political hacks for the right, and sometimes we are political hacks for the left. Naive readers occassionally mistake this for principle, but I trust the more sophisticated see it as the randomized hackery it truly is. In any event, a great rule of thumb is that our silence means that we are secretly conspiring with your enemies to keep stories out of the public eye. Remember, if a legal event isn’t being blogged about at the Volokh Conspiracy, it just didn’t happen.

On a more serious note, I haven’t written about the U.S. Attorney’s story because I’m having a hard time figuring out just how big a deal it is. Parts of it are obviously very troubling: I was very disturbed to learn of the Domenici calls, for example. More broadly, I have longrunning objections to the extent to which DOJ is under White House control, objections that this story helps bring to the fore (although my objections are based on my views of sound policy, not on law).

At the same time, several parts of the story seem overblown. U.S. Attorneys are political appointees who serve at the pleasure of the President, and the press seems to overlook that in a lot of its reporting. Also, I know one or two of the Administration figures named in some of the stories, and based on my knowledge of them and their character (although no secret details of the story — I have not spoken with anyone about it) I have a feeling that they’re getting a bad rap.

So in the end I don’t quite know where I come out based on what we know. Without knowing where I come out, I don’t feel I have much helpful to add. I realize that this may mean I am missing a big story. Perhaps this will prove to be a simply huge scandal, and in time it will seem odd that we weren’t all blogging about it. But I don’t know what I’m supposed to do when I read a story and I’m not sure what to make of it.

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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