This column by ACRU Policy Board member J. Christian Adams was published January 26, 2016 on PJ Media.
Of the remaining Republican presidential candidates, Senator Ted Cruz is the best choice to repair the mess that Eric Holder and Barack Obama have left at the United States Department of Justice. Cruz alone has an understanding of both the corrosive and lawless policies of the last seven years as well as the complex task of restoring the rule of law.
Cruz has an outsider’s zeal to reverse Obama’s lawlessness with the insider’s ability to overcome bureaucratic inertia.
No matter what issue you care about most, all policy roads lead through the Justice Department bureaucracy. If you care about energy, national security, religious liberty, immigration or the power of government, it is the Justice Department lawyers that develop the intricate legal policies that support the agency decisions. They are the lawyers that make the litigation decisions. That’s precisely why Obama installed a radical ideological crony like Eric Holder to lead the place.
When Obama radicalized the Justice Department, he radicalized the government.
Donald Trump doesn’t talk much about this radicalization at Obama’s Justice Department. When Trump touches on Obama’s radicalization of the ministerial state, Trump’s understanding is a mile wide and an inch deep. Ted Cruz has an understanding of Justice Department radicalization that is a mile wide and miles deep.
I know this because Senator Cruz is one of the few senators who display any comprehension of the radical transformation taking place inside Justice. When Holder or other administration officials go before the Judiciary Committee, Cruz is one of the senators who can be counted on to conduct real oversight.
Cruz conducts oversight of Eric Holder and his gang of radicals the same way I would. Unlike some colleagues, Cruz actually shows up for oversight hearings of the Justice Department. Cruz digs into the important issues during oversight and confirmation hearings and doesn’t ask provincial questions seemingly unaware of the lawless history of this Justice Department.
It’s easy to assume Trump’s bombast and authoritarian nature would enable him to reverse quickly the policies of the last seven years at Justice. But such a belief in Trump is mistaken, and understandable, when you have never served as a federal employee inside the leviathan.
The federal government is run mostly by swarms of career bureaucrats who are immune from termination absent grotesque misconduct. Even bureaucrats who lie, steal and cheat are still employed at the Justice Department. Career employees are skilled at delaying and diverting the wishes of their political overseers. Remember, only a handful of political appointees will manage a Justice Department division with hundreds of career staff and lawyers.
To reverse the culture of lawlessness that has overtaken the Obama Justice Department, the political appointees will need the skills of an insider with the ideology of an outsider, just like Ted Cruz has.
Political overseers, and presidents, who merely issue commands to the ministerial state will invariably have those commands diluted, ignored, opposed and reversed. Assuming that Trump could issue edicts and reverse the rot at Justice is naïve. It takes an outsider with the skill of an insider to make anything happen at the Justice Department, something Cruz displayed when at the Federal Trade Commission. Trump’s proclivity to rely on Wall Street or Manhattan lawyers to accomplish anything would only weaken his effectiveness in curing the government rot.
It’s one thing to boast of deals in the private sector, its quite another to transfer that bravado to government policy.
Consider a turkey. Not just any old turkey, but a companion turkey flying with its own seat assignment on Delta Air Lines.
As Fox News reported:
So how can a turkey get on a plane? Simple. The passenger provided proper documentation proving the fowl was indeed their emotional support animal, so Delta let the bird on board, and even gave it its own seat.
To Trump, a turkey on an airplane is probably just plain stupid, and it is. Unfortunately, The Donald probably doesn’t have a clue about why this is happening or what to do about it.
The reason that a turkey can score a seat on a Delta Air Lines flight is because of policies of the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice.
The Civil Rights Division has developed guidelines that can allow a turkey, or ferret, or pig, or any other animal to be a psychiatric service animal. Airlines, fearful of litigation or the heavy boot of the Justice Department, capitulate to any joker with a note from a doctor and a pig on a leash.
So what to do about it? It might seem as simple as telling a handful of Justice Department lawyers to write new guidelines on comfort animals, or any of the hundreds of radical new Obama policies, but it isn’t. Political lawyers for a new administration are outnumbered inside DOJ about 90 to 1. There are only so many hours in the day. Lawyers and staff unfamiliar with the tricks bureaucrats use to stall changes eventually get worn down. I’ve seen it happen.
If the political overseers don’t get worn down, then there are other ways to prevent implementing a new president’s policies: dueling memos, multiple component reviews, comment periods, visits from interested outside groups, “violations of longstanding Department protocols,” or the ignoring of directives for weeks at a time. In an environment where it is impossible to fire anyone absent criminal misconduct, and nearly impossible even with misconduct, the bureaucrats hold the commanding heights.
I experienced the bureaucratic slow-walk firsthand when the Bush administration sought to implement new regulations involving the abusive Section 5 process where the Justice Department must pre-approve any election law changes in sixteen states, a power that the Supreme Court recently stripped from the bureaucrats. This is the power the Justice Department used to block Texas and South Carolina voter ID laws.
During the effort to rewrite the Section 5 regulations, a half-dozen bureaucrats inside the Voting Section suffocated the plan. All of them are still there in management positions, and I can say with confidence that only President Cruz would know what to do with them. Two of them can be transferred by a new president to any federal agency in any part of the country — such as to the weather service office in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
President Trump might have his aides repeat his bluster and wail, but these are bureaucrats skilled in the art of assassination of conservative reforms.
Under President Trump, the radicalism at Justice is likely to survive. But under President Cruz, the radicalism can be reversed. Under President Cruz, I am confident there will be no more turkeys in coach and no politics behind enforcement of election laws.
But the radicalism inside DOJ goes far beyond turkeys on airplanes. It extends to forcing public schools to conduct transvestite sensitivity training, to hiring radical consultants associated with Black Panther communists to train police officers, to stoking racial mobs in places like Ferguson, to harassing pro-life protesters, to cutting New Black Panthers a break for violating the Voting Rights Act, to creating million-dollar slush funds to energize ACORN successors, and beyond.
Trump has an uncomfortable appeal to race-identity politics. Race and racial division have animated so much of the Holder-Obama era at Justice. Racial politics drove decision after decision, and Trump has begun to use the racial identity language of Holder. Trump told Fox News that blacks are “going to like me better than they like Obama.” Or this doozy: “I’m going to do great with the African-Americans. I think I’m going to do great with the Hispanics. I think I’m going to do great with the Asians.”
We’ve had enough of a president looking at the world through the lens of race.
The Obama presidency demonstrated that when authoritarians are elected, they can count on the bureaucratic state to implement fully a president’s authoritarian agenda. But when an authoritarian like Trump is elected purportedly opposing the bureaucratic state, the bureaucratic state will win. Rock beats scissors. Bureaucrat beats bluster.
It takes someone like Cruz who has an outsider’s beliefs with an insider’s proficiency to beat the bureaucrats at their own game. I suspect after four years of Donald Trump in the White House, we’d still have turkeys and pigs flying in coach.