Joe Conason gives some historical context in the NY Observer:
Someday, historians will wonder why the highest officials in the Bush Justice Department believed that they could inflict heavy-handed political abuse on federal prosecutors-and get away with it. The punishment of the eight dismissed U.S. Attorneys betrays a strong sense of impunity in the White House, as if the President and his aides assumed that nobody would complain about these outrages or attempt to hold them accountable.
That confidence was understandable, of course, after so many years of living with a docile press corps and a compliant Congress. And the precedent for this misconduct was set long ago.
There was once another Republican prosecutor who insisted on behaving professionally instead of obeying partisan hints from the White House. His name was Charles A. Banks, and the Washington press corps said nothing when he was punished for his honesty by the administration of the first President Bush. Keep reading...