The Ideological Executive Branch

Admittedly, I only found this story in the Boston Globe following Jon Stewart’s reference the other night, but it’s worth pointing out.

When the current administration is so aggressively secretive, it’s pieces of information like this — the fact that there are 150 graduates of 4th-tier (yes, that’s the bottom one) Pat Robertson-founded Regent University Law School working in the Justice Department — that I find really enlightening. A wall is built around large policies and high-profile actions, but it’s in low-profile details like staffing decisions that true intentions really shine through. While another below-the-radar policy change outlined the shape of true policy goals, the choice here of how to staff the Justice Department does the same for the true chosen methods.

Forget the change from civil servants recommending highly-qualified law students to a Bush-appointed Regent graduate directly pulling in fellow alumni. Forget even about the fact that through 1999, graduates had trouble passing the bar, let alone get Justice Department jobs. The thing that gets me is this:

“…Jeffrey Brauch of Regent made no apologies in a recent interview for training students to understand what the law is today, and also to understand how legal rules should be changed to better reflect “eternal principles of justice,” from divorce laws to abortion rights.”

Regardless of Bush or Cheney’s own opinions on issues, it certainly must be convenient to have young lawyers in the Justice Department that place personal ideology over the rule of law. The law is hard and unchanging, objective. Ideology is subject to change, and twists to include personal allegiances or higher causes. That’s incredibly dangerous for our executive branch, and inevitably leads to, well, exactly the kind of failure and embarrassment we as a nation are currently enduring.

5 Responses to “The Ideological Executive Branch”

  1. enkidu Says:

    Every politician follows an idealogy of some kind. The big difference between Rethugs and Democrats of late can be summed up in the person of John Bolton. You know, Ambassador to the UN (who hated the UN and advocated ‘lopping off the top ten floors’). He went on the Daily Show a few weeks ago and said something quite revealing: to his mind (and I think he typifies Rethuggle ‘thinking’) Preznit Bush doesn’t work for the American People, he works solely for the people who voted him in (and screw everyone else being the obvious extension to this line of ‘thinking’).

    Democrats at least try to work for the American people, while Thuglicans are only in government to get themselves ahead/elected. Why vote for people who hate government, who are bad at it and can’t be bothered to learn? No wonder these clowns are such incredible failures at every function of good governance.

    Heck of a job bushie!

  2. ymatt Says:

    Certainly there’s nothing wrong with ideology. The issue is with placing ideology *above* the law, and above the will and conscience of the American people. Having underqualified ideologues in the Justice Department whose stated priority is to defer to “eternal principles of justice” is an affront to the entire reason for the Justice Department and the Executive Branch.

    And that same kind of thinking clearly drives the kinds of decisions we see: chronic unwillingness to be truthful with the public (ideology before transparency), a disastrously underplanned war (ideology before logic), and numerous illegal-to-gray-area actions in the name of the War on Terror (ideology before privacy and liberty).

  3. jamesfreedman Says:

    The law should come before ideology…

  4. knarlyknight Says:

    And then you have laws based on corrupt ideologies:

    e.g. draconian measures of the [un]Patriote Act that grant those in power the de facto power to torture YOU…

    which comes first in that case?

  5. oreleses Says:

    Two interesting analogies people should ponder (the first one is on the money):

    From CNN: This Week AT War 5/20/2007:

    LT. GEN. WILLIAM ODOM, (RET): Let me point out something that I think is assumed in this discussion that should not be assumed. We’re not dealing with Iraqis. We’re sitting on top of several sides in multiple civil wars in Iraq. So asking the Iraqis to step up is sort of like asking will the confederates and union leaders step up to a convention that the British have called that we ought to stop fighting after Gettysburg.

    From NBC: Meet the Press 5/20/2007:

    MR. GINGRICH: Prime Minister Maliki is doing the best he can in a chaotic environment, and he’s not a very strong person, but if—imagine we were the French in the 1700s, debating the American Continental Congress and saying, “Well, should we really send aid to these guys? I mean, they can’t even hold—you know, they’ve retreated to Lancaster. They’re not even in Philadelphia. They’ve lost New York. George Washington’s lost all these campaigns. This guy Washington has no major victories. I mean, why are we sending money over there? This is just bad money after good.”

    SEN. DODD: But, but, but equating, equating the American Revolution with a civil war in Iraq today, please, with all due respect.

    MR. GINGRICH: No, it’s exactly the same point.

    SEN. DODD: This is—no, no. It’s very different circumstances entirely here. And, again, I’ll come back to the point earlier, this is, this is where Iraqis have got to make a decision. They have to decide whether they want to be a country or not. And it’s a legitimate issue about whether or not they want to. They’re talking about separating off of the three different federal zones: the Kurdish, a Shia, Sunni zone. They—they’re uncertain themselves as to whether or not they want to be a nation.

    MR. GINGRICH: We went…

    SEN. DODD: Here they’re asking us to decide that for them, Newt, in a sense.
    They have to make that decision.

    MR. GINGRICH: We went—wait a second, we went from 1775 with the first Continental Congress to 1789 when we adopted the Constitution. We had 14 years of confusion. Now, if you were advising the French how—in late 1776, Washington has been defeated in New York, he’s been defeated in Brooklyn Heights, he’s been defeated crossing—all, all the way across New Jersey, what would you have said then? Why would you have said, magically, the Americans are better?

    SEN. DODD: Well, the fundamental issue, I’ve got George Washington, not Prime Minister Maliki, and I’ll go with Washington every day of the week. Now, we’ve got a lot of other people sitting around, people in Massachusetts, Connecticut and elsewhere, in Georgia, who are sitting there who knew what they wanted in the end. The Iraqis don’t apparently at this point.

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