Does it surprise anyone that Bush is just about ready to appoint another highly partisan Attorney General? I can’t say I’m shocked. He doesn’t seem to learn much from experience. The Justice Department is in disarray, with empty management positions throughout. Monica Goodling, until recently in charge of hiring and firing, admitted to using illegal political litmus tests to choose candidates for career positions. Evidence of partisan influence has called into question a number of high-profile investigations and convictions. Bush has been urged to choose a moderate candidate, someone who can bring credibility back to the department.
So what does The Decider decide? The New York Times is reporting that he’s close to choosing Theodore Olson as Gonzales’ replacement. This is the same Theodore Olson who served on the American Spectator board during the halcyon 90′s when the magazine ran the Arkansas Project, an ongoing effort to dig up dirt in order to damage and unseat President Clinton. The same Olson who represented Bush before the Supreme Court in the 2000 election dispute.
Reports of Mr. Olson’s candidacy suggested that President Bush, in choosing the third attorney general of his presidency, might defy calls from Democrats and choose another Republican who is considered a staunch partisan to lead the Justice Department. Mr. Gonzales is departing after being repeatedly accused of allowing political loyalties to blind him to independently enforcing the law.
“Clearly if you made a list of consensus nominees, Olson wouldn’t appear on that list,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat who led the Judiciary Committee effort to remove Mr. Gonzales. “My hope is that the White House would seek some kind of candidate who would be broadly acceptable.”
I suppose there’s a miniscule chance that Sen. Schumer will get his wish. Administration officials say Bush hasn’t made a final decision yet. But given that they’re touting Olson’s name, I figure they’re at least testing the waters. And as usual they figure they can force the Democratic majority in Congress to accept Bush’s choice, no matter how questionable it may be.
Aides to Mr. Bush are calculating that Democrats, who spent months clamoring for Mr. Gonzales’s ouster, will pay a political price if they try to block confirmation of a new attorney general. The thinking inside the White House is that Democrats cannot call for new leadership at the Justice Department, then block it.
And am I the only one who fully expects Bush to counter opposition to Olson by trotting out the poor man’s wife, conservative commentator and professional Hillary hater Barbara Olson, who was killed in the 9/11 attacks? No? Didn’t think so.