It's Looking More and More Like It's One And Done For JB
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen may want to rethink his decision not to run for Governor in 2010. Candidly, if Van Hollen wants to continue in statewide political office, the governor's office may his best chance. That's because as things stand now, I think it's highly unlikely that he's going to be re-elected to his current position.
It's pretty apparent that Van Hollen is intent on purging the State Department of Justice of those senior career law enforcement professionals who are anything other than "yes men" (or women). Whenever politicians try to do things like this, it almost never ends well. My guess is that when the smoke clears and the inevitable claims and lawsuits ultimately get resolved, it won't end too well for Van Hollen either.
In the short term though, demoting or forcing out senior leadership at a government agency is pretty much "inside baseball". While people inside the law enforcement community know what's going on, the general public probably really doesn't care who the Director of this or that DOJ Division is or is not.
However, to borrow a line from The Godfather, what an elected official cannot allow is himself to be made to look ridiculous. Yet, ridiculous is precisely how Van Hollen is making himself look.
For reasons that pass understanding, Van Hollen is considering having Special Agents from the State of Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation accompany him - at taxpayer expense - to the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis. The agents would be tasked with providing security for Van Hollen!
I attended the 1996 Republican National Convention in San Diego. Even pre-9/11, security was intense. Given the army of Secret Service agents, FBI agents and state and local law enforcement personnel who will be providing security for the event, it's tough to see what a couple extra Wisconsin DCI guys could add (no disrepect to DCI intended).
More importantly though, how arrogant of Van Hollen to think that he may be a target of something. At the GOP convention, there will be members of Congress, Cabinet members, Governors and many other high profile dignitaries - including the President and the 2008 GOP nominee for President. With all due respect to the office of Wisconsin Attorney General, it's tough to seriously imagine that old J.B. would be on the top of a terrorist hit list. Alternatively, if J.B. really believes that his safety is in jeopardy, he should probably stay home so as not to endanger everyone else who will be attending.
It's fine with me if J.B. wants to have an entourage accompany him to the GOP convention. As far as I'm concerned, he can take his wife, his kids, his friends and half of the State Department of Justice if he likes. He should just pay for them out of his pocket or from his campaign fund. It's ridiculous though to think that the taxpayers should pick up the tab for bodyguards.
Based on what I'm hearing, there are very serious problems at the State Department of Justice. Still, it's silly stuff like the bodyguard flap which leads me to believe that it's probably going to be one and done for Van Hollen.