Subpoena Games

Here we go again. Just when you thought that congressional Democrats had overplayed their hand and failed to deliver on the promises they made to the American people, they’re back to playing partisan politics once again. At second blush, have they ever stopped since Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has wielded the Speaker’s gavel? (By the way, Six for ‘06 appears to be 0 for 6 in ’07, but I digress.)

To wit, the Department of Justice decided to fire several United States attorneys who served exclusively at the pleasure of the president of the United States. As one who personally served at the president’s pleasure, I can tell you he can fire you for any reason or no reason at all. This isn’t a secret — this at-will employment relationship is made crystal-clear to those privileged to serve at the president’s pleasure. You don’t have a permanent job and the White House doesn’t run an employment agency — both your time and the president’s pleasure could end sooner than you’d like.

Early in their tenure on the Hill, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and his House counterpart, John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) made much of the fact that several U.S. attorneys had been let go for — gasp — political purposes. Oh, the outrage, the injustice of it all! they initially clamored. Then, congressional Democrats brought Karl Rove, their favorite political bogeyman, back into the limelight. “Rove must be behind this,” they exclaimed. “Did Rove break the law?” they questioned ominously.

Despite repeated claims the Bush administration has failed to cooperate (the thousands of pages of documents that have been delivered to the Hill and offers to have senior Bush officials meet with congressional investigators behind doors notwithstanding), congressional leaders Wednesday decided to issue subpoenas to two former Bush administration officials: former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and former White House political director Sara Taylor. What are they looking for, you ask? Go no further than the words of Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Schumer, at least, is honest in why he wants to bring officials such as Ms. Taylor before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The senior senator from New York baldly noted that he wanted to know what (cue the dark, evil music) Karl Rove had been up to. “A good investigation would always question Taylor before Rove,” he said. Really? An investigation that you already know the answer to — that officials within the White House and the Department of Justice decided to fire attorneys for political or other reasons? Some might not find it fair or proper, but the president of the United States can fire people for any reason or no reason at all.

So spare me the outrage and moral indignation. Congressional Democrats in their zeal to bring embarrassment (and legal fees) to current and former Bush officials would be wise to keep an eye on their approval ratings. Both the Speaker and the Senate majority leader’s personal numbers, as well as those regarding the Congress as a whole, are now at historic lows. Keep it up and the majority could find itself back in the minority after being fired by the American people for focusing on gotcha games and political witch hunts rather than the real issues that confront our country.