[Update, May 31: Three names have been added to the chart below since its original posting.]
The Bush lawyers who descended on Florida en masse this past November and December to litigate Bush v. Gore weren't just fighting for their candidate. They were also, in many cases, fighting for their future jobs. Chatterbox has no beef with the spoils system in American politics; indeed, as a contributing editor of the Washington Monthly, he is trained to view patronage as a valuable mechanism for government accountability. (To read an instructive Monthly article by Robert Maranto about the unfireability of civil servants, click here.) The pro-patronage position is slightly less compelling when the victor happens not to be the same guy who won the popular vote, but that's an argument to abolish the Electoral College, not to abolish patronage. And while Chatterbox certainly disagrees with the Supreme Court's final ruling in Bush v. Gore, the blame there lies with Antonin Scalia, not Ted Olson, the Bush attorney and solicitor general whose veracity has lately come under fire. Olson and his legal colleagues (some of whom were Democrats) were just doing what lawyers do, which is to argue their client's case.
So: Patronage is a good thing. Legal representation is a good thing. But sunlight is a good thing, too. It would be an odd kind of accountability that mandated patronage but ignored the details of how the spoils got handed out. Chatterbox has a right--make that a duty--to let his readers know what baubles are being dispensed to the attorneys who litigated Bush's postelection campaign. If you happen to be one of Bush's Florida lawyers and your name does not appear on the following list, click here for an official presidential personnel application form.
Sources: Deadlock: The Inside Story of America's Closest Election; National Journal's Capitol Source; Leadership Directories Inc.'s Federal Yellow Book; the Brookings Institution's "confirmation countdown"; the Senate's nominations Web page; Legal Times' "The Legal Lineup"; assorted articles fromthe American Lawyer, the Washington Post, and other publications.
Illustration by Robert Neubecker.