So the first South Asian to hold the post of United States Attorney is a 34 year old woman with a taste for the extravagant. She is also "dictatorial" and "ideologically driven". Her subordinates are demoting themselves in protest. Meet Rachel Kunjummen Paulose, the current United States attorney for the District of Minnesota – because the United States Senate certainly did not.
Ms. Paulose held a coronation ceremony, complete with a color guard and choir, on March 9th of this year. She defended herself in an embarrassing videotaped interview with the local ABC television station. Patrick Fitzgerald, she ain’t.
How does such a young woman with limited experience rise so quickly to become a United States Attorney? Let’s ask her predecessor, Thomas Heffelfinger, who resigned last year before he could be fired by Gonzo and company:
Heffelfinger supervised Paulose when she was a young assistant prosecutor in the office. He would not comment on her qualifications. "I was 58 when I left. She was 32 when she started," he said. "I brought significantly different things to the job than she brings to the job — without valuing them one way or the other."
Not exactly a stellar endorsement.
What did the United States Senate think of her qualifications during her confirmation hearings? They thought nothing of her. That is to say they did not look into her qualifications whatsoever.
The U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Rachel Paulose as the U.S. Attorney for Minnesota early Saturday.
The 33-year-old Paulose, of Eagan, had been acting U.S. attorney for about nine months. President Bush nominated her for the permanent job about four months ago.
Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., said in a news release that he urged the Senate Judiciary Committee to allow full a Senate vote on Paulose before the Senate adjourned early Saturday.
Paulose met Wednesday with outgoing Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., and got his support. However, it appeared that the Senate session would end before it took up her confirmation.
But what did the Senate do after receiving her nomination on August 3, 2006? Nothing. The Judiciary Committee did not vote on her nomination. They did not send her nomination to the full Senate for a confirmation vote. Instead, on the last day of the 109th Congress, Bill Frist, then Senate Majority Leader of the Republican controlled Senate, asked that the Judiciary Committee be "discharged" from further consideration of Ms. Paulose’s nomination. This from the congressional record on December 8, 2006:
Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate immediately proceed to executive session to consider the following nominations on today’s Executive Calendar: Calendar Nos. 62, 63, 407, 670, 783, 900, 901, 904, 1000, 1001, 1002, 1003, 1004, 1005 through 1008, 1010, 1011, 1012, 1013, 1014, 1017, 1018, 1019, 1020, 1021, 1022, 1023, 1024, and all nominations on the Secretary’s desk.
I further ask consent that the following committees be discharged from further consideration of listed nominations and the Senate proceed to their consideration en bloc:
Judiciary Committee, Rachel Paulose PN1905; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Paul Schneider PN2127; Foreign Relations, Dianne Moss PN1846, foreign service promotion lists PN 2097, PN 2130, and PN 2085.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
With that discharge resolution, a rarely used procedure in the United States Senate, Bill Frist brought Ms. Paulose’s nomination to the floor without any committee hearing or committee vote. A few hours later the United States Senate confirmed Ms. Paulose’s nomination along with over a hundred other nominations before heading out of town and before a new Democratic Senate took over.
If you are going to place a young, inexperienced "best buds" of Monica Goodling as a United States Attorney you will need a compliant United States Senate that does not take its "advice and consent" responsibilities under the United States Constitution very seriously. Mr. Bush had such a Senate in the 109th Congress.
It seems to me if you are going to replace experienced and respected United States Attorneys with cronies of the Bush Administration with dubious qualifications , you do not take the rule of law very seriously. It seems to me that when US Attorney jobs are handed out as political rewards to cronies like ambassadorships have been in the past, the message sent to the populace is that politics triumphs the rule of law. It seems to me that is a direct assault on the United States Constitution. To the extent that the United States Senate has colluded with the Executive Branch in carrying out the politicization and trivialization of the Justice Department, we the citizens are being abandoned by your elected representatives in favor of political favors.
We are left with the embarrassing sight of a United States Attorney whose ego eclipses her qualifications. We are left with Rachel Paulose.