The White House announced late this afternoon that Attorney General John Ashcroft, "the lightning rod," had resigned. Ashcroft did so by a handwritten note on election day. Reportedly the Bush team was ready for Ashcroft to move on and Bush did not try to talk him into staying. Fortunately, we have courts to overturn Ashcroft's assault on civil liberties. Here are some links. The stories go into the negative stuff in detail, so what I'm pointing out is Ashcroft's function of taking criticism for the White House:
New York Times: "Juleanna Glover Weiss, who served as a senior aide to Mr. Ashcroft in the Senate and in his short-lived presidential run in 1999, acknowledged in an interview Tuesday that he had become a lightning rod in the debate over balancing national security and civil liberties." And, "Mr. Ashcroft's posture sometimes irked officials at the White House who saw him as too publicity-hungry, as in 2002 when he used a live video feed from Moscow to announce the case against Jose Padilla, suspected of a plot to detonate a radioactive bomb in the United States."
Reuters: "In spite of the fact that he has taken a tremendous amount of heat at Justice, he has done a yeoman's job of protecting Americans while serving as a shield for the president on some of the tough decisions," GoverWeiss said.
MSNBC.com: " ... last June when he [Ashcroft] appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he sketched out a theory of the broad powers of the president as commander in chief in time of war, arguing that no one could, or even should, say exactly where the president’s war powers end because the goal is national survival."