The White House counsel ideally serves as the president’s conscience.
But late last year, Barack Obama’s conscience was surgically removed.
Greg Craig, as Obama’s top lawyer, was the point man on a number of hot-button issues, the fieriest being how to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Craig argued for holding fast to the principles that Obama outlined before he became president, regardless of the immediate political consequences — an idealistic approach that, in a White House filled with increasingly pusillanimous pragmatists, earned him some powerful enemies.
After a steady drip of leaks over a period of months to the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and other news outlets to the effect that his days were numbered, Craig finally resigned in November.
He was replaced by Robert Bauer, a politically adept consummate Washington insider whose expertise is in campaign finance law — in short, a man whose job is to win elections, not defend principles.
At the same time, Attorney General Eric Holder has been increasingly marginalized and cut out of the White House decision-making loop. So now the coast is clear for the White House to make important legal and national security calls on purely political grounds.
The only question that remains is whether Obama himself will have any last-minute qualms about turning his back on his own principles.