Rod Miller: Methinks U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland Whines Too Much

Columnist Rod Miller writes, "Merrick Garland is whining that criticism is a threat to the 'independence' of his outfit, the U.S. Department of Justice, and thereby a threat to democracy itself. It's hard to threaten something that no longer exists."

Rod Miller

June 29, 20233 min read

Rod Miller
Rod Miller (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

The latest rumor around the ol’ campfire suggests that U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has his knickers in a twist because he’s being criticized for his handling of the case against Hunter Biden.

Garland is whining that such criticism is a threat to the “independence” of his outfit, the U.S. Department of Justice, and thereby a threat to democracy itself.

Horseshit! It's hard to threaten something that no longer exists.

When the Department of Justice and the office of U.S. Attorney General were established in the Judiciary Act of 1789, there were high hopes that the top law enforcement official in the land would discharge his duty independent of any interference from Congress or the President.

Like any ideal, that notion looked good on paper but, in time, succumbed to the realities of politics. Throughout my lifetime and yours, and before that, the Justice Department and the Attorney General have been used as political tools by the Oval Office, for good or ill.

And the current Attorney General should be smart enough to know that.

Fairly recent cases in point:

Truman’s AG, Tom Clark, published, at the president’s behest,“The Attorney General’s List of Subversive Organizations” during the post-war Red Scare. It included not only the Communist Party, but also the Hollywood Writers’ Guild, the Photo League of America, the School of Jewish Studies and the Washington Book Shop Association. He gave the list to the president and Congress.

Nixon’s “law & order AG, John Mitchell was sentenced to prison for his role in helping Nixon’s cover-up of Watergate. How’s that for “independence”?

Then there’s Robert Bork, whom Nixon named acting AG for the specific purpose of firing the Watergate prosecutor after two of Bork’s more principled superiors resigned rather than do Nixon’s dirty work.

Fold Bobby Kennedy, Janet Reno John Ashcroft and Loretta Lynch into the mix and it becomes abundantly clear that the U.S. Attorney General has become something entirely different than an independent, non-partisan, apolitical dispenser of blind justice for all.

With that in mind, it's incredibly disingenuous for Garland to claim that he and his department are anything other than policy and political tools of a sitting president. Independent, my Aunt Fanny!

For him to whine when he and the Justice Department suffer public criticism for following presidential orders is pretty bush league.

But to say that criticism of DOJ is a threat to democracy is just plain stupid. It is pompous, vain and downright dangerous. It echoes Louis XIV when he said, “L’etat c’est moi.”

If Garland is too thin-skinned to tolerate criticism when he screws up, then maybe AG isn’t the job for him. He might be more emotionally suited as a divorce lawyer in Beverly Hills.

The muscle mass of democracy is the citizens’ right to criticize their institutions of government, and to do so freely and without threat of retaliation from those institutions. It is our right to change those institutions at the ballot box if they fail us.

If we, as citizens, don’t take that responsibility very seriously, then we have no room to whine ourselves if we end up on the next Attorney General’s List of Subversives.

Rod Miller can be reached at:

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Rod Miller

Political Columnist