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Remove the Stench

Senator Charles Schumer broke ranks with his fellow Democrats and voted to confirm Judge Michael Mukasey as U.S. Attorney General.  In doing so, Sen. Schumer remarked that, as Attorney General, "Judge Mukasey would do much to remove the stench of politics from the Justice Department."  Similarly, Sen. Schumer lamented in a New York Times op-ed — an op-ed in which the Senator explained his reasons for supporting Mr. Mukasey — that at the DoJ "politics has been allowed to infect decision-making."

I’m pretty sure that Mr. Mukasey will not de-politicize the Justice Department.  I do not criticize Mr. Mukasey; rather, I point out the obvious: the Justice Department, being part of a political branch of government, is inherently political.  Trying to remove politics from the U.S. Department of Justice would be like trying to remove the bottom ten floors from the Empire State Building: it cannot practically be done.  And even if done in theory, such a change would alter fundamentally the thing itself — and such a fundamental change will not be tolerated.

More interesting to me is the implication of Sen. Schumer’s smack-on correct admission that politics stink — that politics is an infection (and, presumably, one that is dangerous).  Given the Senator’s clear-eyed understanding of the nature of politics, why does he not go further and call for removing the stench of politics from all of Americans’ lives?  Why not get government out of the business of restricting trade – of interfering in labor-market contracts – of subsidizing farmers and exporters and small businesses – of determining and enforcing educational ‘standards’ – of regulating the size of our toilet tanks – of [fill in the blank]?


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