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Can we finally get some US Attorneys?

A “Republican and former federal prosecutor” named Bill Mateja wrote an op-ed over the weekend that simultaneously cheered and criticized the Republican obstruction of getting US Attorneys nominated for Texas.

Why should Republicans, who have played their hand so well, now help Democrats get these posts filled during a Democratic administration? The simple answer is that while their stand may be principled and worthy of kudos to the extent they’ve beaten back Democratic efforts to install mere politicos, it is no longer what is best for Texas.

Mike McCrum’s recent announcement that he was withdrawing his name from consideration for the San Antonio U.S. attorney’s post underscores the fact that whatever the cause of the political logjam, it simply has to end.

McCrum — a first-rate, prosecutor-first-Democrat-second lawyer – withdrew his name even though he seemed to be the pick of Democrats and Republicans. He had been on hold too long without the ability to take on new cases, which was anathema to his legal practice and bringing home the bacon.


The time is now to put empowered federal prosecutors in place, even if it means Republicans relinquish their upper hand and settle for someone who is politically not what they would prefer. Again, I call on our senators to end this stalemate, whether by making things happen or allowing or greatly easing the way for Democrats to move nominees to confirmation. I trust that the senators’ principled stand on this issue will result in Democratic nominees who aren’t merely political hacks and who, while not perfect from the senators’ political vantage, can get the job done.

It’s interesting that Mateja mentioned the specter of “political hacks” or “mere politicos” three times but never claimed that any such candidates had been seriously put forth, and the one nominee he did name he called “first rate”. Protest a bit too much, Bill?

I give Mateja credit for accurately citing Republican obstructionism as the primary reason for the delay, but of course this is much bigger than just Cornyn and KBH throwing their weight around. The entire strategy of the Republican Party from January 21, 2009 onward has been to obstruct and delay, which has been a huge success for them thanks in no small part to the dysfunction of the Senate. I have no doubt that it would be an acceptable outcome to our Senators and to any Republicans who might succeed either of them for these positions to remain unfilled for as long as President Obama is in office. The GOP is perfectly content to ensure that the economy remains broken in order to maximize their chances of retaking the White House in 2012. Why should they care about a few white collar criminals going unprosecuted in the interim? But hey, good luck trying to get them to listen to you, Bill. My advice would be to accompany your pleadings with a few bags of unaccountable corporate cash, but to keep your expectations low anyway.

On a side note, the next time someone tells me that we need to stop electing judges because doing so is just too political, I’ll show them this and ask why they think the appoint-and-confirm process would be any less political. At least with elections I get to have a say in it.

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