Donald Ayer’s article in The Atlantic is making a splash today. The author is a former U.S. deputy attorney general under George H. W. Bush, and the piece is entitled: Bill Barr Must Resign. More than 1,100 former DOJ officials are also calling on Barr to resign.
Spoiler alert: Barr won’t resign and will almost certainly not be impeached, but Ayer’s piece is definitely worth one of your free monthly clicks, IMO. An excerpt:
Barr’s Federalist Society speech suggests that he is ready to say nearly anything in pursuit of his lifelong goal of a presidency with unchecked powers. As Napoleon is reputed to have said, the man who will say anything will do anything. That Barr has also repeatedly used his authority as attorney general to tailor the position of the United States, in court and in legal opinions, to empower such an unworthy incumbent as Donald Trump to do whatever he wants suggests that this is correct.
The benefit of the doubt that many were ready to extend to Barr a year ago—as among the best of a bad lot of nominees who had previously served in high office without disgrace—has now run out. He has told us in great detail who he is, what he believes, and where he would like to take us. For whatever twisted reasons, he believes that the president should be above the law, and he has as his foil in pursuit of that goal a president who, uniquely in our history, actually aspires to that status. And Barr has acted repeatedly on those beliefs in ways that are more damaging at every turn. Presently he is moving forward with active misuse of the criminal sanction, as one more tool of the president’s personal interests.
Bill Barr’s America is not a place that anyone, including Trump voters, should want to go. It is a banana republic where all are subject to the whims of a dictatorial president and his henchmen. To prevent that, we need a public uprising demanding that Bill Barr resign immediately, or failing that, be impeached.
All true, but here’s my question: why did any experienced legal analyst or past DOJ official give Barr the benefit of the doubt in the first place since, as Ayer points out, Barr has been peddling kooky theories about the imperial presidency since God was in knee pants? Barr’s Wikipedia page tells the story: he grew up in the right place and went to the right schools.
We really do have a “coastal elitists” problem in America, but it’s not city dwellers looking down on gun-fondling NASCAR fans. It’s benign assumptions about deranged and/or incompetent people if they emerge from centers of power. It’s a serious problem!
Ayer calls Barr “un-American,” an adjective I dislike because it usually implies that civic virtues are uniquely American and erases societal depravities that are all too American. But given that Barr is attempting to undo the American Revolution and restore a species of monarchy, the descriptor may be literally true in his case.