Listening to NPR today, covering the Attorney General resignation, one of the 9 fired Asst US Attorneys mentioned how the Attorney General would remind everyone at conferences that they worked for the President. This fired Assistant US Attorney said that was wrong; they worked for the People, for Us, not just the President.
This points out that fine line distinctions can make a huge difference. The Attorney General was a long time friend of the President’s, and very loyal. He would support the President at any price.
However, we have something in this Country called three independent branches of Government. There’s the Judiciary, the Congress and the Executive branch. This system was designed to provide checks and balances in power, rather than make any branch of Government subsidary to another. This is important, and the foundation of our democracy.
The Attorney General’s position is a political appointment by the executive Branch, but their job is to enforce laws enacted by Congress and to make sure the interest of the State is represented in Court. Just like any State Attorney in a State. The Attorney (as all of us who have attended law school know) are charged with upholding the Constitution, as is our President. We all take vows to uphold the Constitution- the obligation is to the State and its citizens, not individuals, not to any one person holding any one office.
Sure, we all feel loyalty to friends and mentors that help us on the way. We want to do what is best, and we feel obligated to protect our friends. I admire these qualities. But when your job is to serve the People and uphold the Constitution first, your loyalty to someone who looks at the Constitution as a nuisance must come second.
I worry that the greatest roblem that has occurred in this Country is that some of our political leaders have forgotten they do not serve only special interest groups. They do not serve with themselves and the friends in mind. They have been duly elected by the People and serve at the pleasure of the People. They need to look at their job as a fiduciary one, one where you do what is best for others, like a parent, not what is solely in your own interest. To serve the public is a privilege, not an opportunity to grab all you can for you and yours andlet everyone else rot.
This also means it’s a tough job. You’ll never make everyone happy. You have to make decisions about what is fair and right, and receive a lot of criticism for even the most mundane actions you take. You have to raise money to run a campaign, and all those people think they own you and your agenda. It’s not easy.
But the Attorney General’s ultimate downfall was making an error thinking that his alligence to the President was the same as his alligence to the Constitution and the People of the United States. The loyalty to the person is to be admired; but the loyalty to the office, the loyalty to our Country and the Loyalty to uphold the Constitution and its ideals, rather than constantly looking for loopholes, was the downfall.
It’s a fine line distinction, but it can make all the difference in the world.