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What the Ebola Appointment Tells Us About the Next AG

President Obama yesterday named DC lawyer Ron Klain as the Ebola "czar."  I know Mr. Klain only very slightly, from when I was moving out of the White House at the end of the GHWB administration and he was helping the Clinton administration move in.  I found him intelligent, thoroughly pleasant and a gentleman.  Our contacts were slight and fleeting, and I haven't seen him in more than 20 years. 

The WSJ has an editorial today about the Klain appointment.  Its title is, "Ebola Political Contagion," and it begins:

President Obama bowed to the growing Ebola political furor on Friday and named a so-called Ebola czar, though maybe the better label is apparatchik. His man isn't a military general, despite the troops in West Africa, or even someone with so much as nominal expertise in disasters or infectious disease. He's the political operative Ron Klain.

President Obama is selling the new position as an "Ebola Response Coordinator" to restore order and manage operations across government. This would seem to require some familiarity with epidemiology and federal assets like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mr. Klain's resume does not extend much beyond his stints as chief of staff to Vice Presidents Al Gore and Joe Biden , unless you count his job quarterbacking the Solyndra fiasco as no big deal.

If you've been exposed to fault-finding in Mr. Obama's Ebola campaign and experienced symptoms such as chills, anxiety or skepticism--or you're worried that you've communicated such criticism to others--do not fear. We know this epidemic can be stopped, and Mr. Klain's field team will apply triage, contact tracing and meticulous political infection control practices.

The Klain appointment is, I fear, a window into the process that will produce Eric Holder's successor.  The problems at the Department right now are, among others, an infection of dissembling with Congress, stirring racial division across the country, disguising non-enforcement of immigration and drug law, and plotting the legalized jailbreak of tens of thousands of thoroughly guilty convicts through clemency.

We now see that these things will be looked upon, not as blunders to be re-thought but PR problems to be massaged, re-packaged and more cleverly peddled to an unsuspecting public.

Well, what were we expecting?  The main problem was never Eric Holder.  It was Eric Holder's boss.


DO you really expect clemency for "tens of thousands" of incarcerated federal felons? I will surprised if even a thousand federal defendants get clemency, but you keep talking about 20,000 or more getting clemency relief. Do you know something I do not?

I suspect I know many things you don't, just as I'm sure you know many things I don't. How's Pat Leahy's staff these days?

The people at DOJ, and the press people who talk to them, say they expect nearly 50,000 applications, and DOJ has said they will be reviewed in a generous spirit, to -- as ever in DOJ's deliberately opaque lingo -- "be true to our country's most cherished values."

This phrase will have no specific meaning until it's politically convenient to Obama to give it one, meaning somewhere more than two weeks from now.

When the lid is off -- the elections over and no more to be held during the President's term, limits and constraints are also off. So too with any bets that he might show even minimal discipline.

Tens of thousands might scare me, but it wouldn't surprise me. After all, these poor convicts did nothing wrong -- are choir boys, really -- and were merely blackjacked into prison by waiver-inventing thugs like me.

Believe me, I know the dance by now.

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