Take This Job and Shove It

Ken Starr is going to Capitol Hill today to say, “Stop me before I kill again.” According to the Associated Press, which first obtained an early copy of his testimony, Starr will tell the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee that the independent counsel statute shouldn’t be re-authorized. Some of his testimony, apparently, will be pouty: “If politicization and the loss of public confidence are inevitable, then we should leave the full responsibility where our laws and traditions place it, on the attorney general.” (Translation: “Let those bozos at Justice take the heat for a while, and see how they like it.”) Some of it will be practical: “The statutory mechanism intended to enhance confidence in law enforcement thus had the effect of weakening it.” But some of it, apparently, will be based on a reading of the law. According to the Washington Post , Starr is going to call the independent counsel process “constitutionally dubious.” According to a paraphrase in the AP story, Starr will say it violates the separation of powers between the executive and judicial branches. Chatterbox would like to know: When did Ken Starr come to this particular conclusion? If it was before he took the job of independent counsel, that would seem to support the widespread suspicion that Starr was out to “get” Clinton. (It’s a peculiar sense of duty that compels you to take a job that you think violates the Constitution.) If it was after he took the job, one has to wonder why Starr’s thoughts on this abstract constitutional question hadn’t jelled before. If it was sometime in between, Chatterbox chalks it up to Starr’s desire to chuck the Whitewater investigation and teach law at Pepperdine. Chatterbox drove past Pepperdine today. The ocean was bright blue, the Santa Monica Mountains were lush and green after two unseasonable spring rains, and Chatterbox thought: If I were Ken Starr driving this car, I’d be feeling very sorry for myself right now.

–Timothy Noah