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Use Guard only as last resort 

The American military has a rich history of ejecting undesired occupants from American property, and/or preventing entry in the first place. During World War II, a famous news photograph showed a fractious and unpatriotic CEO being carried from his Chicago headquarters by soldiers. In Little Rock, memory remains fresh of the National Guard troops who, on orders from the governor, protected Central High School against nine black teen-agers threatening to enroll. Not a single one of the aggressors made it inside while Guardsmen were on duty. Only after their removal did Central High fall to the integrationists.

If the National Guard is needed to remove Tim Griffin from the federal courthouse, the Guard can do the job, we’re certain. But how much better for Griffin to leave on his own two feet, rather than on the shoulders of troopers. The Bush administration has already stripped much of the dignity, not to mention honor, from the federal justice system. More debasement would just about do the system in.

Though a resolute partisan himself, Griffin was surely embarrassed by the appearance of Monica Goodling before a congressional committee. Goodling was barely out of a Pat Robertson-founded law school, most of whose graduates fail the bar examination, when the administration assigned her to drive from the Justice Department all lawyers not violently Republican. She laid on with a will. Competent U.S. attorneys were replaced by appointees less qualified and more partisan, many of them members of the sinister Federalist Society. Griffin, a Karl Rove protege and former dirt-digger for the Republican National Committee, was one of those appointees. (At the time, the administration had sneaked past Congress a legal provision allowing the executive branch to name U.S. attorneys without the Senate approval previously required.)

Fearing criminal prosecution, and with the help of an expensive lawyer — not a graduate of a Pat Robertson law school, we’ll wager — Goodling managed to evade many congressional questions. Still, hers was a sordid recitation of political opportunism at the expense of the people.

Even an immoderate like Griffin can succumb to a rogue honorable instinct, previously dormant. For him to resign would be a far better thing than he has done before. Way far better.

Under attack

“The Constitution at the end of Bush’s two terms is much the worse for wear. For a short parlor game, challenge your friends to name a constitutional right that Bush has not sought to undermine. After the right to bear arms and the guarantee against the quartering of soldiers, the game will be over.” — David Cole, in Harper’s Magazine.

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