Thursday, December 20, 2012

Robert Bork and the Saturday Night Masacre

I'm finding myself commenting this, in one form or another, a lot:

There is one error in Jeffrey Toobin's blistering obituary of Robert Bork. Bork should not be condemned for being the man who fired Cox. He and Richardson and Ruckelshaus had a meeting in which they agreed that the deed would have to be done - the Justice Dept. as a whole cannot defy the President's will - and since Richardson and Ruckelshaus were resigning in protest, Bork would have to be the one who pulled the trigger. Bork offered to do it and then resign too, but Richardson told him no, don't resign, because that would leave the Dept. without anyone legally capable of serving as Acting Attorney General.

I don't know what Bork's personal opinions on the matter were, but his action was, unfortunately, proper.

Further, when afterwards Nixon called Bork in and offered to appoint him as the new Attorney General, Bork had the wisdom to reply, "That would not be appropriate."

Bork knew he was marked by his role in this, and I was surprised when Reagan pulled him back out of obscurity a decade later and nominated him for the Court, although I found that others, even fellow Watergate junkies, had completely forgotten who he was.

Everything else Toobin says about Bork is completely correct, most emphatically this about his post-nomination career: "In the subsequent quarter-century, Bork devoted himself to proving that his critics were right about him all along."

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