The internet and news cycle has been buzzing with the firing of acting Attorney General Sally Yates. It would seem that many, if not most, are hailing her as a hero and patriot for refusing to follow a directive from her employer, the President of the United States. Hmm. I am trying to understand how disobeying a lawful order from one’s boss makes someone a hero. In the real world, outside of the political circus, ignoring or outright defying one’s duty is sure to result in termination. In the military, depending on the severity of the order, doing so could result in a stint at Fort Leavenworth. So, why is Sally Yates different? Political bias, plain and simple.
See, in our country today, we don’t view things as right or wrong anymore. We don’t see things as proper or improper. We don’t understand action or inaction as good or bad. We see things as left or right or, what is exponentially worse, us versus them. This is eroding the fabric of America. We cannot continue to immediately attack and criticize based on the mentality that “Trump is bad, therefore everything he says, does or thinks is bad.” I am the first person to call Trump out when he does some idiotic thing or something which is detrimental to our republic, but I refuse to blame him because Sally Yates chose not to do her sworn duty.
I understand that she felt she could not in good conscience uphold the enforcement of his immigration hold. I admire her for her moral standing on that, actually, as I feel this is the wrong way to secure our nation. What I believe was extremely lacking in protocol and decorum was her publicizing her dissent and thereby leaving President Trump no choice but to fire her. In effect, what this did, was make her look petulant and whiny and buoy up the Presidents bully status…which his base thrives upon. The President comes off looking like a no-nonsense boss, and Yates like just another disgruntled employee.
During the Watergate scandal in the early 1970’s, when Nixon attempted to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox in October 1973, his then Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus both resigned. The result left Nixon looking like a desperate and unhinged lunatic leading him to demand that Solicitor General Robert Bork fire Cox. Bork did so reluctantly and later admitted that he was promised a position on the Supreme Court for his efforts. Of course, Nixon resigned under the threat of impeachment before that could take place.
This fiasco was labeled the “Saturday Night Massacre” in the media and is a prime example of what could have happened here. Richardson and Ruckelshaus chose to resign causing Nixon to look like a fool and publicly create his own additional scandal. Yates could have done the same. Instead, she chose to let Trump have the upper hand and command the situation by simply firing her and moving on. In my opinion, there was nothing remotely heroic or patriotic bout that.
If Yates wanted to be a true hero and patriot, she would have resigned with her statement as to why she believed, in a moral and legal sense, the executive order should not be enforced. She would have made her point with clarity, with dignity and with a decorum currently lacking in the Trump house of brutish behaviors. The contrast would have been stark and memorable. It would have been a prime example of “going high” as others “went low.” Instead, we now have simply another win for Trump as he replaces her temporarily with someone to do his bidding and a likely expediting of Senator Jeff Sessions confirmation to avoid any other such setbacks within the department. Nothing was served by Yates’ action. Except now she has a dismissal rather than a resignation on her resume.