Department of Justice blacklisted Minnesota liberal groups

From Mindy's Tom Elko comes a shocking-but-not-surprising story about how the federal Department of Justice excluded people from high-level jobs if they belonged to conservation groups, pro-choice groups or progressive legal societies.

Elko writes that "influence came in the form of a 'screening committee' made up of political appointees who would 'deselect' candidates based on political affiliation, organization membership and ideology."

From 2003 to 2005 no deselections were made, but in 2006 Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez resurrected the screening committee.

During that time the Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, Minnesota Justice Foundation, Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy were added to the list of liberal groups in which membership would get a qualified candidate deselected.

From most any other presidential administration, this would be shocking.

Yet this is the administration that excluded qualified candidates from rebuilding Iraq in favor of ideologically "pure" Heritage Foundation interns who had never left the country; that had more than one top federal official openly musing about the best way to help "our" candidates.

This is why "a pox on both your houses" thinking is poisonous, and why political journalism has done us a disservice the past eight years.

The elite Washington media -- and for me no one exemplifies this more than Washington Post columnist David Broder -- have this mantra of bipartisanship as the cure-all for America's ills. This effectively ignores repeated thuggish misbehavior by one party, like preferring ideology over qualifications (FEMA's Michael Brown, anyone?).

It's like telling the sickly kid who always gets beaten up that he has try harder to get along with his bullying older brother.

As November approaches, if Barack Obama still looks likely to win, you'll see a wave of stories about how he must be president for the whole country, not just for liberal Democrats. You can count on this, just as you can count on one of them coming from Broder himself.

Remember that this line of argument effectively means "we would like Obama not to do precisely what we expect the Republicans to do."

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