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July 22, 2006

Republicans After Baker

Republicans are sharpening their knives in this state, and one Democrat they'd really like to take out is Thurbert Baker, our attorney general. It's not surprising why they want to take him out -- for obvious reasons but also because he's been non-partisan in defending the state and Republicans will not be happy until they have a political hack doing this job instead who will side with Republican leadership 100% of the time instead of the AG's true client - the people of Georgia. They look to the Alabama model of Roy Moore as Supreme Court justice and Bill Pryor as Attorney General and they want to replicate that here.

For some reason, they seem to think the way to attack Baker is to focus on the fact that he does not personally argue controversial cases in court. In a story in the AJC Glenn Richardson complains that "You'd think the attorney general would be the one there in the courtroom...[because he's not] I don't think his heart's in it the same as ours."

Richardson was talking about such cases as the gay marriage ban appeal (where Baker's office obtained a verdict that Richardson alleges to desire) and the defense of the state's new sex offender law.

Let's think about the standard Glenn Richardson and other Republicans are wanting to apply to Baker. The AG, like any other officer, is an administrator who directs policy and is responsible for adequately staffing his department to do it's duties. Republicans would never suggest that John Oxendine perform fire safety inspections himself, or that Kathy Cox move to an underperforming school district and start personally instructing the students there. And I don't think they'd like for Democrats to start offering that up in return. But they better be careful, because Baker's record administering his office is strikingly better than Kathy Cox, for example.

They should think about the standard they are setting, and whether they can personally meet that standard. Sonny Perdue, as Governor is required to write and submit the first draft of the state budget. Does Perdue personally author the budget, up late at night pounding away on a word processor with a spreadsheet open in another window at the Governor's mansion?

Richardson is himself an attorney, although he lacks the prestige that Baker has acquired both in private practice and as our Attorney General. And they know that a diverse range of groups including the NRA will once again endorse Baker's re-election, so they are fishing for an issue. I think it says a lot about Glenn's own capabilities as a lawyer that he thinks the job of AG should be an opportunity to personally grandstand in a court of law instead of assembling a team of the best professionals on certain issues and having them advocate for the state when those issues need to be litigated.

It's ironic, if you think about it. When a black Democrat has proven himself to be an exceptional administrator who assembles a top notch team with a diverse range of specialties, he's criticized for not being personally involved. But just a few years earlier, we were told that Bush's best attribute was the fact that he was a manager in a similar vein who would assemble the best experts and let them work on the issues that they know the best. Seems like there is a different standard for me than there is for thee, eh Glenn?

Posted by Chris at July 22, 2006 02:24 AM


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