May 18, 2007
If what you want is a banana republic what you do is hollow out the main departments of the executive branch from within until nothing but politics remains. A military coup naturally, probably inevitably, ensues. Sometimes I wonder — is that what Republican chieftains intend? Or are they so stupid that they actually don't see where their actions are taking us? Probably it's a mix of both. If the Tyrant could have a coup on his own terms he'd seize it. Which is why the administration's ravaging of the Department of Justice matters, not just for today, but for the long haul. To better understand how Justice used to operate, and to hear a finely parsed, devastating critique of its politicization, I turned to Joe Rich, who for almost 37 years served in Justice's Civil Rights Division, the last six of those as chief of its voting section. Joe is an exemplar of the dedicated civil servant one used to find more frequently around this town. It was an honor to talk with him and I'm very grateful for his insights. Total runtime an hour and nine minutes. Enjoy!