One of the most essential skills of a good manager is the ability to delegate responsibilities. For a busy Attorney General like Alberto Gonzales, there simply aren't enough hours in the day to be unaware of all the important stuff you need to be unaware of. That's why a talented deputy like Paul McNulty is so invaluable:
In a closed-door interview with congressional investigators last week, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty said the [Daniel Bogden] firing weighs on him heavily, according to an aide familiar with the transcript of McNulty's comments. McNulty said he succeeded in sparing another U.S. attorney whose identity has not been revealed….
McNulty told investigators he did not see the list [of U.S. attorneys to be fired] until October, two months before the attorneys were fired….
McNulty asked during the interview last week to speak to the whole Bogden affair. McNulty told investigators he had hoped for some explanation for Bogden's inclusion on the list because he saw no apparent reason to fire him.
He said he was told that Justice wanted to bring in someone with more energy for Nevada, a fast-growing district.
He "was told that Justice wanted to bring in someone with more energy?" Well, we know that Alberto Gonzales didn't know anything about why Bogden was fired. And Kyle Sampson, the keeper of the list, claims not to know why Bogden made the list either. So who, in this equation, is "Justice?" Who was calling the shots? It certainly wasn't McNulty.
Yes, apparently the Bogden firing just materialized spontaneously out of the DoJ's time-space continuum, and the #2 guy in charge was helpless before its two-mere-months-in-the-future inevitability. After all, the USA firing list was completely set in stone by then, with no chance for additions or deletions allowed, especially not by someone as low on the totem pole as McNulty. (Of course, this begs the question of just which totem pole we're talking about.) Or maybe McNulty was waiting for his phone to ring so he could leap into bold, decisive action, just like another great, patriotic American.
This kind of weird-but-convenient passivity and incuriosity in the face of inexplicable decisions and dodgy information has become downright epidemic in Washington over the last six years, in both the government and the media. Why, it's almost as if asking questions has become bad for business, or bad for your career, or maybe just bad form. (On the other hand, maybe there's a good reason to look the other way…)
The good news is, the Democratics are finally able to start asking the gonzocracy the tough questions no Republican would ask. The even better news is, the Republicans don't seem to be very good at answering them. They must be out of practice.