Some may argue that a Tim Geithner or Eric Holder deserves no more quarter than the Democratic opposition has given former Justice Department official John Yoo or the other targets of the Democrats' calls for "criminal" prosecution of former government officials and CIA interrogators.
Others will say this is the normal rough and tumble of politics. It is not. It is more insidious than that. The system is on a downward spiral in which the notion that a sitting American government should be able to function is irrelevant.
Washington is falling to the level of a Web-based video game. Everyone is expendable. Treasury secretaries and presidential advisers are a dime a dozen. Put differently: The job-protected and gerrymandered lifers are driving out the competition. More often than not, Washington's worst people are destroying its better people.
In his report, Mr. Conyers cites a catalogue of good-government laws that flowed out of Richard Nixon's impeachment: the Federal Campaign Finance Act, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Independent Counsel Act, the Ethics in Government Act, and the Presidential Records Act.
Whatever the original rationale for such laws, the rankest impulses in politics soon turned them into weapons to take down officials in a government one can't overthrow by other means. You could fill the whole House chamber with men and women who since Watergate have been driven out and bankrupted by them. Criminalizing policy differences has become the modern version of bills of attainder.