Josh Marshall clearly and concisely explains why the US Attorney firings are a big deal. This is the key point:
The firings were not the offense. They were the clue that suggested the offense.
And here’s why it’s a scandal:
And then on one day, secretly and with no explanation, seven get canned. And several are involved in corruption investigations targetting Republicans. The first public explanation is that they were fired for poor performance. But then it turns most were among the highest performing US Attorneys in the country. Add in the fact that one of the eight was overseeing one of the broadest ranging and historic public corruption cases in US history and … well, it all got our attention.
The bottom line is that the health of the democracy in some ways rests on the integrity and independence of federal prosecutors (and the Justice Department in general). Yes, US Attorneys are political appointees, but they are also public servants. Firing some of them for not demonstrating sufficient political loyalty creates a pretty clear set of bad incentives for the rest. Not all political scandals are important, but this one is.
Update: Looks like Alberto Gonzales better start searching for a new job, or at least a publisher who will offer him a fat advance to put his story in print.