Pathetic wingnut attempt to use Clinton to excuse firings of US Attorneys

Tuesday, March 13, 2007 at 03:40 PM

Lots of little wingnuts have taken to trying to defuse the scandal over the recent firings of US Attorneys by citing a 1993 NY Times article, but only its abstract, which happens to read as follows:

ATTORNEY GENERAL SEEKS RESIGNATIONS FROM PROSECUTORS March 24, 1993, Wednesday By DAVID JOHNSTON, (Special to The New York Times); National Desk Late Edition - Final, Section A, Page 1, Column 1, 1053 words

Attorney General Janet Reno today demanded the prompt resignation of all United States Attorneys, leading the Federal prosecutor in the District of Columbia to suggest

that the order could be tied to his long-running investigation of Representative Dan Rostenkowski, a crucial ally of President Clinton. Jay B. Stephens, the ...

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For example, check out this comment on

Believe it or not, the New York Times manages somehow to report on the subject [the Bush Administration decision to replace several US Attorneys] without a single mention of the decision of Clinton's AG, Janet Reno, to fire every U.S. Attorney in the country - all 93 of them - including the one then investigating Dan Rostenkowski.

The same 1993 NY Times article is cited in comments on, and, of course, Free Republic

I've also seen it on one message board on the web. ALWAYS just citing the abstract from the 1993 article (which is about a month after Clinton was first inaugurated), leaving the impression that Clinton was wayyy more partisan in his treatment of US Attorneys than poor George Bush would ever be..

But golly gosh oh-gee, it turns out there's a good reason for citing only the abstract: this was perfectly normal behavior, all presidents did it, and all US Attorneys expected to be asked to resign so the new President and the new AG could decide which ones to keep and which ones to jettison. Here's the real story, from an article in the Duke Law Journal (emphasis added): norms are more likely to develop when there is conflict over the meaning or status of an existing norm.29 Such conflict is evident in the recent uncertainty over whether sitting U.S. Attorneys should offer to resign to give newly elected presidents the chance to replace them. Before Bill Clinton's election, presidents expected that such resignations would be offered.30 After Clinton's inauguration, several sitting U.S. Attorneys balked at offering to resign their posts once the Senate confirmed Janet Reno as President Clinton's Attorney General.31 After becoming Attorney General, Reno had made what she thought was the routine request that sitting U.S. Attorneys submit their resignations to her, so she could consider whether to reappoint them. She did not expect negative backlash because similar requests had been made by her predecessors in the Carter, Reagan, and Bush administrations and honored by previous U.S. Attorneys. Their refusals to tender their resignations embarrassed Reno, and, in fact, the desire to cause Reno embarrassment may have been the impetus for the refusals.32 After sending mixed signals on whether all sitting U.S. Attorneys should proffer their resignations to Attorney General Ashcroft,33 President George W. Bush and Attorney General Ashcroft requested the resignations of all but a few of the nation's U.S. Attorneys.34 Not a single Republican leader questioned the propriety of Bush's and Ashcroft's actions.
NORM THEORY AND THE FUTURE OF THE FEDERAL APPOINTMENTS PROCESS by MICHAEL J. GERHARDT (Arthur B. Hanson Professor of Law, William & Mary Law School, [Duke Law Journal,] vol 50, page 1687.

So what do you think? Are they lazy and uninquiring, or full of knowledge and deliberate bullshit?