On Keith Olbermann's show:
OLBERMANN: The president‘s claim today in Mexico that firings like this are, as he said, a customary practice by the presidents. In fact, in historical fact, it‘s extremely rare for even one U.S. attorney to be dismissed during a president‘s term, let alone eight of them. This is something that the ousted chief of staff to Mr. Gonzales, Kyle Sampson, himself commented on in one of those e-mails that came out in the document dump yesterday.Some key differences: 1) past presidents replace most of the prosecutors at the start of their terms, not midway through, and it's esp. common when the incoming president is of a different party then the exiting one (such as Clinton and Bush I), and 2) there's no evidence, at all, that Clinton removed any due to political purposes or retribution -- which is the case in this instance with GW.
And this question is thus meant literally. When the spin like that is more easily dismissed and disproved than if you were to lie about whether today is Wednesday or it‘s Tuesday, who are they trying to fool with that?
WOLFFE: I have no idea why they‘re trying to use this line. It‘s so patently untrue. You know, they‘d be better off saying, Listen, these are the reasons we fired these people. I think the hearings are going to go there. What were their personnel failures, their management failures?
Or at the very least to say, Listen, we have different standards. We are the Bush administration. We are going to do things our own way.
But this idea that there was somehow a precedent, that every other president has done this, is patently false.
As the Boston Globe penned in an editorial:
So please, enough with the Clinton canard. It's what these guys do, fabricate when they're up against a wall.
It is customary for newly elected presidents to replace large numbers of US attorneys, especially if the new president is from a different party. It is not customary for presidents to sweep out many of their own appointees to these positions in the middle of their administration.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales caved in to pressure from the White House for such a housecleaning in recent months. Then department officials led Congress to believe that the eight US attorneys in question were forced out for performance problems, not for what now appears to be the real reason in at least some cases -- that the prosecutors were not sufficiently partisan in election and political corruption cases. Gonzales has lost any credibility he had with Congress and the public as the nation's chief law enforcer. He should resign.