Columnist Ruben Navarrette makes the case that Alberto Gonzales should not be canned over the recent US Attorney firings. After all, it wasn’t he who was at the root of this. Rather, it was Karl Rove and Kyle Sampson that breached ethics.
On at least one of those cases, I disagree. Karl Rove almost cannot breach ethics by definition. His role is to spin everything to its best political advantage. He is not in an elected or even confirmed position. No one in their right mind thinks his job is to make recommendations in the best interest of the people of the country, the constitution, or even basic human rights and liberties. His job is to secure the future of the Republican party – period. That’s where his allegiance lies. And in fairness, he’s never asserted otherwise.
It doesn’t trouble me that Rove made recommendations to fire US Attorneys for political reasons. However, it does trouble me that anyone listened. Gonzales leads the nation’s justice department. The ethical responsibilities of his position and his profession are pretty clear. He should have told Rove to go pound rocks. Similarly, Sampson should have said the same thing. And by Gonzales’ own admission, he is accountable. So if Sampson did this on his watch, he still bears responsibility whether he was in the loop or not. Gonzales should step up and take the bullet here. He earned it.
In a similar vein, Harriet Meirs is legal counsel to the President. Again, her professional ethics as a lawyer should have caused her to rally against the co-opting of the justice system for political gain. Minimally, she should be dis-barred.
And while none of this stinks all the way to Bush so far, I’m personally skeptical he was out of the loop. His position’s responsibility to uphold the law and the constitution should trump any possible political motivation. So yes, his ethics are in question as well. (So we’ll just add that to his list, okay?)