A Curious Line in the Sand

The Democrats are drawing the line in the sand at a pretty curious place. Instead of putting all of their efforts into coming up with a coherent strategy on Iraq, or passing legislation that matters to the Democratic base, they are picking their big fight over the attorney general’s firing of seven U.S. attorneys.

Some facts that everybody knows but that bear repeating:

  1. The president can fire any of these U.S. attorneys for any reason. They serve at the pleasure of the president. They don’t have a vast bureaucracy with lots of rules to protect them. If the president doesn’t like the color of their socks or if he doesn’t like their prosecutorial pedigree or for any other reason, he can fire them. That is one of the truly great things about being president. You can do that kind of thing.

  2. Bill Clinton fired all of the U.S. attorneys when he came into office, including the U.S. attorney who was investigating the president’s Whitewater real estate transaction.

  3. Nobody cares about this outside the Beltway.


So why are the Democrats picking this fight at this time to draw their line in the sand? Here are some theories:

  1. They just hate Karl Rove and see this as the only way to get him to testify before Congress. Rove won’t and shouldn’t testify before a congressional committee. But because Rove escaped a bullet in the Scooter Libby trial, the new majority wants to take another shot at him.

  2. They have nothing else to talk about. Whatever happened with the “6 for ’06”? The Democrats have passed just about nothing and are making incredibly slow progress on their big agenda items. They are struggling with the budget. They will be lucky to pass a supplemental appropriations bill that won’t completely alienate their base. Minimum wage is nowheresville. In other words, they are stuck. And so they need a distraction.

  3. Along the same lines, they need to fire up their base about something other than Iraq. Because Iraq ain’t working for them. Imagine how devastated they will be if the president’s surge strategy actually works.


It is no mistake that leading this charge is Chuck Schumer, and while it may be inappropriate, it is telling. The Democrats smell blood and they are going for it. But at the end of the day, it is not clear to me whose blood this really is and if it will really matter a year from November.