The Biggest Scandal That Never Was

The coverage on cable news has been sensational for a scandal that doesn’t exist. “Karl Rove at the heart of expanding U.S. Attorney Scandal,” screamed a headline just moments ago. I’m loath to write about this again this week, but things have really gotten out of hand on the air, the newspapers and the Internet.

Let me state this as clearly as I can: U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president and are appointed to a four-year term. At any point and for any reason during the term of the U.S. attorney, the president of the United States can decide that the pleasure has ended and set the individual free.

Despite the tenor of the coverage this week, did anyone in the media stop, think and report that the four-year terms for each of the dismissed attorneys had expired? Listening to or reading to the coverage, you’d think they were forced out. The term had expired, and the president decided to make a change AFTER their four-year term had already ended.

Another thing that has me steamed about the sensational coverage is that viewers and readers are left with the impression that something akin to Watergate had taken place: “What did Karl Rove know and when did he know it?” Put another way, if the U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president, why in the world would it be so unusual for the president’s deputy chief of staff/senior adviser as well as the White House counsel to confer with one another about them? Not only is there nothing scandalous about this, but I’d be upset if the president’s counsel and senior adviser hadn’t been consulted in dismissing a senior-level political appointee.

Of course, the Democrats on Capitol Hill, more eager to attack the president than substantively address real issues, are gearing up for hearings to “investigate.” Again, all they’ll find is that (a) The U.S. attorneys’ four-year terms had expired; (b) The president is able to fire or retain these employees at will; and (c) they were let go. What a waste of taxpayer money. And the politicians all wonder why their constituents back home hold Congress with such little regard.