In my life, I have lived through the tenures of John Mitchell, Richard Kleindienst, William French Smith, Edwin Meese, John Ashcroft, and Alberto Gonzales as attorneys general under Republican presidents. I thought I’d seen it all when it came to using the Department of Justice as the presidency’s shield and cudgel. But William Barr, after auditioning quite successfully while helping squash the Iran-Contra threat to the presidency of George H.W. Bush, has become the full, blooming, odiferous flower of reeking corruption—the hacko di tutti hacki of all AGs.
And now, it seems, he believes it to be his duty to knuckle local officials for the offense of trying to keep their citizens alive. From Bloomberg:
We have to give businesses more freedom to operate in a way that’s reasonably safe. To the extent that governors don’t and impinge on either civil rights or on the national commerce — our common market that we have here — then we’ll have to address that…These are very, very burdensome impingements on liberty, and we adopted them, we have to remember, for the limited purpose of slowing down the spread, that is bending the curve. We didn’t adopt them as the comprehensive way of dealing with this disease. You can’t just keep on feeding the patient chemotherapy and say, well, we’re killing the cancer, because we were getting to the point where we’re killing the patient. and now is the time that we have to start looking ahead and adjusting to more targeted therapies.
Barr’s gift for epidemiology is approximately as profound as his gift for disinterested law enforcement. The measures he is decrying happen to be the only “comprehensive way of dealing with this disease” that we have right now. No infectious disease expert of any note thinks that “reopening” the country will result in anything except the renewed strength of the pandemic. The national government for which Barr ostensibly works—more accurately, he’s house counsel for Camp Runamuck—has left the states virtually alone to develop the wide-ranging testing regime that everybody fighting the disease knows is necessary for any legitimate long-range progress. But now that same national government is presuming to make governors virtual enemies of the state if their efforts to save their constituents make the president* look bad. I’m beginning to doubt the sincerity of that Republican devotion to the 10th amendment.
Barr has been a terrible nuisance throughout the days of plague. And he is not alone. Last week, something called the Conservative Action Project wrote an open letter to Barr asking him to rein in state and local officials who are trying to keep their constituents alive. In part, the letter reads:
Petty, would-be, dictators are attempting use the crisis as an opportunity to flex their perceived new muscles at the expense of the Constitution, and even telling citizens their right to protest such excess has been “suspended.”
The first signature on the letter was that of…Edwin Fcking Meese.
We will never be rid of them. Barr’ll probably live to be 105.