A friend of mine called me this week and asked what the prosecutor-purge scandal is all about. She'd heard a bit about it, but didn't see what the big deal was and wanted to hear to the whole story. After I explained it, she said, "What made them [administration officials] think they could get away with it? Didn't they think someone would notice?"
I've been mulling over this scandal for several weeks now, but the question caught me slightly off-guard. What did make the Bush gang think they could a) politicize U.S. Attorneys' offices; b) fire those who failed to play ball; and c) lie about it?
The only explanation I can think of is that the Bush gang has been getting away with it for six years and became so arrogant, they were no longer worried about getting caught.
Think about how many scandals we've seen since Bush took office, controversies that, under normal circumstances, would have led to hearings, resignations, special prosecutors, congressional investigations, etc. I suspect we've all lost count by now.
But what happened in nearly all of those instances? Congressional Democrats would try to raise a fuss, progressive activists would express their outrage, and the media would add at least some scrutiny -- but the Bush gang knew they'd just have to wait for the storm to blow over. Congressional Republicans and Bush's Justice Department had cut off the mechanisms that would ordinarily hold a corrupt White House responsible.
With that in mind, why not start purging prosecutors for nefarious reasons? As far as Bush's White House and Justice Department were concerned, they'd already gotten away with similar behavior before.
Indeed, let's not forget that this scandal is on the front page now, but it almost didn't happen. The Bush White House came this close to getting away with yet another one.
What made them administration officials think they could get away with this? They grew accustomed to accountability-free politics. And even in this case, that arrogance was almost proven right.