Just as the Democrats were beginning to run out of gas in their inquiry into the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan has given final approval on an immunity deal that will protect former Justice Department aide Monica Goodling from being prosecuted for anything other that perjury in connection with testimony when she appears before Congress to testify in the near future. Of course Goodling’s lawyer has said that, with an immunity seal, she would cooperate and testify honestly.

As this Congressional scavenger hunt for “evidence� continues, I am still trying my best understand exactly what the fuss is all about. As Tina pointed out in her post HERE yesterday, this is nothing more than a “manufactured scandal�. Lawmakers claim that they want to question Goodling as part of an inquiry into whether the Justice Department “played politics� with the hiring and firing of department officials, and whether these POLITICAL appointees were fired for political reasons. The obvious answer is YES, and that’s exactly what the White House should have said in the beginning.

The biggest mistake the administration made during this whole affair was not approaching the Republican appointees and simply asking them to resign and given them a good job reference. Instead, they just told them to get out and when questions started being asked about the reasons why these U.S. attorneys were fired the Justice Department went on the defensive and claimed that they were fired, at least in part, because of poor job performance. That was a huge mistake and I can’t say that I blame any of the attorneys for being upset that the Justice Department sullied their reputations in order to fend off critics.

Let us not forget that there were a handful of Republicans that grumbled a bit when President Clinton ousted ALL 93 U.S. attorneys at the beginning of his first term. Democrats defended Clinton’s decision by making the now familiar argument that all political appointees serve at the pleasure of the president, and that was pretty much the end of it. Perhaps the Bush administration should have taken a page out of the Democrat’s play book and just fired all of the U.S. attorneys and started from scratch like Bubba Clinton did. The Democrats would have still raised hell, but there would have not been any way for them to make political hay out of the issue and this thing would have already ran its course.