Outside The System

As Nico from the Center for American Progress reported yesterday, the Justice Department recently released a correspondence between former Gonzales counsel Monica Goodling and assistant Attorney General Paul Corts. In the email, Goodling asks that an order be drafted and sent directly up to her, "outside of the system." The order in question, which was signed by Gonzales, "granted her and [then-Chief-of-Staff] Sampson broad powers to make personnel choices and other major decisions." Goodling subsequently used those powers to fire and hire U.S. Attorneys for admittedly political reasons.

This memo demonstrates yet again the consistent tendency of the current Administration to value loyalty and partisanship over competence and merit, and their evident willingness to go "outside the system." President Bush has made it clear that he values loyalty extremely highly, and this philosophy has permeated all levels of the Bush government. Goodling, a graduate of Messiah College and Pat Robertson's Regent University (which currently has some 150 graduates working in the Bush Administration), was one of several Gonzales aides "remarkable for their inexperience and autonomy in deciding the fates of seasoned Justice Department lawyers." Just before her resignation, Goodling said that all she wanted to do "was serve this president, this administration, this department." Goodling was dedicated enough to break the law in pursuit of that goal.

So it seems the real question is: Should partisan loyalty really be the decisive factor when appointing public servants?