As Ed predicted last week, CNN is now reporting that Kenneth Melson is expected to exit stage left at the ATF. But how will he be hitting the road and who would be his replacement?

Kenneth Melson, acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, is expected to resign under pressure, perhaps in the next day or two, in the wake of the controversy over Operation Fast and Furious, two senior federal law enforcement sources said Monday.

In the operation, straw buyers were allowed to purchase illegally large numbers of weapons, some of which ended up in the hands of cartels in Mexico.

And who is the president looking at to replace him? CNN claims that Eric Holder is already on his way to talk to Andrew Traver, the Chicago ATF bureau chief who had already been roundly rejected when Obama tried to put him in charge. Traver’s record as a pro gun control, anti second amendment activist put off nearly everyone.

In a case this outlandish, which Darrell Issa already referred to as “Felony stupid,” I am immediately reminded of an episode from season seven of The West Wing. In it, Toby is discovered to have leaked classified intelligence to the press, seeking to promote his own personal agenda. He attempts to turn in his resignation and the president responds by saying, “I can’t accept your resignation. I have to fire you.”

The Obama administration has wandered into a bear trap here, and while I don’t expect him to be taking policy advice from the pages of Hot Air, the sad part is that he has a clear path out of this mess if he can summon the will to act quickly and forcefully with integrity. First, he needs to take a page from Jed Bartlett’s playbook. Don’t accept Melson’s resignation. Fire him, and do it in a very public fashion. (While he’s at it, he could fire Holder as well, but I doubt we’ll see that.)

Next, lend the full support of the White House to complete, public hearings into this mess, identify all of the individuals responsible, and give the family of Brian Terry front row seats. Let them be satisfied that justice has been done.

And finally, abandon any thoughts of taking another shot at putting Traver in as the head of the ATF. Begin a new search and vetting process to locate a seasoned authority who is just as interested in protecting the rights of lawful gun owners as they are in keeping weapons out of the hands of the bad guys. It wouldn’t be nearly as much of a trick as some of the gun grabbing crowd might imagine, since I don’t know a single responsible gun owner who favors giving guns to convicted violent felons or gang members.

If Obama could manage to do those things, he would earn the respect of many, and I would be among the first to step forward and congratulate him for demonstrating the leadership required in this type of crisis. Will he choose the difficult but necessary path of integrity, or will he enable a coverup and try to brush this off as an anomaly? As always, hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

EDIT: “Jed” not “Jeb” from the West Wing. Also, the original graphic on the main page broke. It’s fixed now.