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One of the “scandals” of the Bush administration was his supposed politicization of the Justice Department, by hiring a few conservatives to add some diversity of thought and background to the otherwise reliably homogenous department. Liberals were outraged by the new diversity, and spun it into a major story. On May 31, however, the New York Times published a piece on Obama’s correction of that diversity. Though they did their best to spin the revelations, the key takeaway came 12 paragraphs in.
“At the same time, there was a change in the political leanings of organizations listed on the résumés, where discernible,” the reporters wrote. “Nearly a quarter of the hires of the Bush group had conservative credentials like membership in the Federalist Society or the Republican National Lawyers Association, while only 7 percent had liberal ones.
“By contrast, during the first two Obama years, none of the new hires listed conservative organizations, while more than 60 percent had liberal credentials. They consisted overwhelmingly of prior employment or internships with a traditional civil rights group, like the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.”
In other words, Bush hired some conservatives and a few clear liberals, while Obama refused to hire anyone who could possibly be mistaken for conservative. If you had liberal credentials on your resume, you were more than twice as likely to be hired by Obama than a conservative was to be hired by Bush.
Additionally, the Times reported that “the Obama-era hires graduated from law schools that had an average ranking of 28, according to U.S. News & World Report. The Bush group had a lower average ranking, 42.” So the lack of diversity was a concentrated goal of the Obama Justice Department all the way around.
There was more evidence of this. Every year, the Justice Department sends staff to the annual conferences of various organizations. The Bush administration noticed that the Clinton administration had not a single conservative organization on the list, so they added one: the Federalist Society. A month after Obama took office, as Hans A. von Spakovsky reported, the Federalist Society was removed from conference participants. (After this became public the Federalist Society was returned to the list, and an additional liberal group was added to the list as well.)
This will come as no surprise to those who have been following Eric Holder’s tenure at Justice. Holder—after promising he wouldn’t—reopened investigations into CIA interrogators, despite the fact that the cases were closed when career prosecutors determined no criminal activity had taken place. This was perhaps the most blatant politicization of the Justice Department that has ever come to light. And it appears to be official policy.
So while the economy under Obama’s management is still suffering, he appears to have revived one industry: cronyism at the federal level is flourishing.
Seth Mandel is a writer specializing in Middle Eastern politics and a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Horowitz Freedom Center.
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