The Attorney General's Lawyer: Inside the Meese Justice Department

By Douglas W. Kmiec | Go to book overview

1
Surmounting the Independent Counsel

Edwin Meese is an early riser. As he traveled south on the George Washington Parkway each morning, the morning light was barely visible over the bordering Potomac. I sometimes wondered if that was a painful ride for Ed. As he began his career as the 75th Attorney General of the United States in 1985, it had only been a few years since his son Scott-- home for summer vacation from college in late July 1982--was killed in a single-car accident on that very same road. If the memory of that tragic loss haunted him, he never let on.

Knowing Ed Meese is to get an entirely different picture of him than the one flashed across newspapers or network television. In person, his stout stature and red complexion are counterbalanced by a pleasant laugh and subtle facial expressions that convey genuine interest in just about any subject brought to him. The public was never given a chance to pick up these nuances, however, since they were fed a daily diet of venal or inept or forgetful or reactionary Ed Meese. The first three characterizations were totally false, the last--the charge of being reactionary--was also a caricature, but at least it came closer to what really bothered the liberal press and the liberal academy: Ed Meese's unalloyed conservative values.

The Attorney General's conservatism opened him up to challenge, but so did his political innocence. Having served as Governor Reagan's chief of staff in California and as a tough Alameda County district attorney, the maintenance of that continuing innocence is somewhat baffling. Yet, it was there. Despite all the rubbish written about him, Ed Meese believed that if he simply articulated his understanding of legal issues, genuine

-7-

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