Charlie Pierce, in his weekly roundup for the last post of the week on Friday began with a look at Merrick Garland’s tenure as Attorney General. If you listen to talk radio, Fox News, and any random MAGA politician, you’ll hear how Biden has politicized the Department of Justice. It’s prosecuting/perscuting honest
Good God-fearing Americans and making a mockery of the constitution. [Late edit — how did that one get through? — but “Good-Fearing” Republicans also works.]
(For the GOP, every accusation is a confession of what they have done, are doing, and promise to keep doing — but I digress.)
Pierce confesses he had been willing to grant Garland some leeway longer than most, but the release of Robert Hur’s hatchet job on Biden was the last straw. It's time for him to go.
...He is not equipped to use all the tools god gave the Department of Justice to thwart the genuine threat to the Republic that is El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago, and the dangerous political climate he has created. The former president* should have been charged federally with insurrection literally years ago. (Hell, during Thursday's oral arguments in the Supreme Court concerning the former president*'s eligibility under the 14th Amendment, even Justice Brett Kavanaugh wondered why he hadn't been so charged, and Kavanaugh used to work for Ken Starr, if we're talking about using all the DOJ's tools at your disposal.) The DOJ should have gone hammer-and-tongs after all the members of Congress who had the slightest connection with the insurrection. Somebody higher than the bear spray crowd should have been arrested and held until trial. Some of the expensive loafers should have been confiscated during the booking process rather than all those duckboots.
As diligent as Jack Smith has been, and god save the good work, he shouldn't have been necessary. This business didn't need a special counsel. It needed the Attorney General and the FBI right from jump. It should have been the very first item on Garland's plate when he walked in the door. And he's spent nearly four years faffing around until Republican congresscritters, some of whom had very curious connections to the events of that day, feel free to call the thugs and vandals, "political prisoners," and we've even come to arguing over whether or not the violence of that day constituted an "insurrection." Mother of god, the former president* is even money to be the next president, and the only real obstacle in his way seems to be whether or not his coronary arteries will do good service.
Thursday was the end for me. Appointing a Republican hack like Robert Hur to "investigate" the non-crimes of the president was bad enough, but then to allow Hur to pile on a political hit piece about the president's memory, thereby normalizing one of the former president*'s attack lines on DOJ stationery, is not admirably fair-minded, it's constitutionally suicidal. God save us from the fair-minded. They'll kill the country and wonder how they did it.
A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.
Imagine where we’d be today if all of the congress critters who refused to certify the 2020 election, or turn over their emails and texts after January 6 had immediately found themselves the object of 14th Amendment investigations to find out if and to what extent they were aiding and abetting the efforts of Trump to overturn the election.
Imagine if we’d taken the opportunity to confront the existential threat the right wing has become while the nation was still in shock over January 6 and prepared to take action. Imagine if we hadn't waited for Dominion Voting Systems to take Fox News to court, or allowed them to settle by paying $800 million to avert a trial in the voting machine company’s lawsuit that would have exposed how the network promoted lies about the 2020 presidential election.
Remember how quickly Republicans jumped on 911 to 1) change the subject away from how George W. Bush ignored the multiple warnings he’d gotten, to 2) force everyone to blindly follow their lead to show how ‘united’ America was or be called weak on terror, and to 3) use it as an excuse to invade Iraq to pursue a dream of “A New American Century” of unquestioned global domination?
Contrariwise, notice how hard they work to ignore a real crisis when it doesn’t serve their agenda?
Democrats have got to get over the reflex to be “the adults in the room” and stop allowing Republicans to act like privileged children. They need to express genuine outrage when the situation merits it, in contrast with the staged hissy fits Republicans do by reflex. It is long past the time to stop giving Republicans the benefit of the doubt on anything. Don’t appeal to their better nature — they may not have one. (Evidence that they do is increasingly rare.) And — Democrats need to confront the media reflex to both-sides everything.
If Garland steps down now, it would likely become a sh*tshow trying to get his successor past Congress. Republicans would use it as an excuse to amplify their accusations of weaponizing the DOJ. They even have a name for it — lawfare — using the law for war on political opponents. There would be a huge effort by them to preemptively neuter anyone nominated by Biden for the job, and the media would doubtless do reflex pearl-clutching over the prospect of anyone who might actually hold Republicans to account and be ‘divisive’.
Bending over backwards to be seen as reasonable when dealing with unreasonable people is not an effective strategy. (See Digby on the history of this.) We need to do better. A DEMOCRATIC attorney general prepared to take some heat from the press and risk being seen as partisan would be a nice change — and can we find someone besides a Republican to head up the FBI while we are at it?