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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Worst idea I've heard this month

Larry Kudlow, writing on NRO's The Corner (and reprinted on his own blog, or perhaps vice versa):

Here’s my humble suggestion: [Attorney General Alberto] Gonzales ought to be replaced by an eminent law school dean or college president — someone with enormous credibility and respect.

Whether or not Gonzales ought to go, saints preserve us from someone chosen as Gonzales' replacement because he or she is an "eminent law school dean or college president." I'm assuming that Mr. Kudlow meant to restrict his suggestion to college presidents who also have law degrees. Let's further presume that he meant to restrict his suggestion to law school deans and college presidents who are also conservative, Republican, or (preferably) both — although that gets us into a pretty small circle on the national Venn diagram. And I'm not saying that there are no law school deans or college presidents who might make a decent Attorney General. (The one who springs immediately to mind is Ken Starr — and good luck trying to get him through the Senate confirmation hearings!)

I'm just saying that ivy-covered ivory towers are just about the very last places that I would choose to start looking for someone to hold simultaneous roles as (a) the nation's top law enforcement official and (b) top lawyer for the government of the United States.

How about someone instead who's earned "enormous credibility and respect" through his or her experience in, oh, say, law enforcement or the practice of law? How about someone who's regularly lived and worked in the real world, outside of government or academics?

The solution to the Administration's public relations problems is not a new Attorney General whose experience in crisis management comes from presiding over faculty senate meetings or resolving arguments over tenure.

(The second-worst idea I've heard this month also comes from The Corner, specifically Ramesh Ponnuru's suggestion yesterday on this same topic: "I just want it to be somebody the president has never met." <snark>Yeah, that's a terrific criterion to use for choosing members of the president's cabinet. Let's get a total stranger! Let's find a new AG in the mold of, say, Bobby Kennedy!</snark> Seriously, I respect him a lot, but Mr. Ponnuru's comment is the kind of snide Bush-bashing I'd expect to see on dKos.)

Posted by Beldar at 11:18 AM in Law (2007) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Worst idea I've heard this month and sent a trackback ping are listed here:


(1) jerry made the following comment | Mar 21, 2007 4:09:58 PM | Permalink

Lieberman, get that guy out of Congress.

(2) Beldar made the following comment | Mar 22, 2007 9:18:48 AM | Permalink

Dubya could certainly do worse, and Lieberman could certainly get confirmed in short order. When he was the Connecticut Attorney General, however, he was very much a populist and rabble-rouser, with strong anti-corporate tendencies not too unlike Eliot Spitzer. And I personally would much rather see him stay in the Senate precisely because of the issues on which he is out of his (mostly sorta former) party's mainstream.

(3) DRJ made the following comment | Mar 22, 2007 10:18:32 PM | Permalink

I second your desire to avoid law school faculty and deans. There are exceptions but it's generally true that "Those who can't do, teach."

(4) CWB made the following comment | Mar 23, 2007 3:04:13 PM | Permalink

"And those who can't teach, administrate!" Which, generally, makes a college dean/president the worst candidate.

(5) Fredrik Nyman made the following comment | Mar 23, 2007 5:02:59 PM | Permalink

I think you misunderstand Ramesh. The way I read his post, he was mocking those who pretend that the AG position isn't political.

(6) Beldar made the following comment | Mar 29, 2007 10:13:16 PM | Permalink

I recall pretty distinctly that Mr. Ponnuru was among those most incensed over the Miers nomination on simple grounds of "cronyism," without regard to her qualifications. That Dubya knew and trusted her seemed to be a disqualifying factor rather than a plus; and I was very frustrated, because I had strong feelings that the very opposite was the intent of the Constitution's framers when they gave the nominating power to the President. I don't think I misunderstood Mr. Ponnuru, but if so, he left himself open for misunderstanding.

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