The maddening thing with these controversies is it’s never about the guy so much as it is about the fight. Gonzales was probably never on anyone’s (except POTUS’s) list of AG candidates. But it was worth fighting for his confirmation because Democrats had turned it into a referendum on the conduct of the war — especially with their the gross hyperbole about torture.
Now, no matter what you think of Gonzales’s performance, it would be a travesty to allow him to be forced out because the opposition has turned the USAtty fiasco into a referendum on abuse of presidential power. As there has been absolutely no abuse, they shouldn’t be allowed to win — which makes it all the more infuriating that Gonzales, if it would make the problem go away, seems only too eager to surrender an important executive prerogative, namely, the authority of the president, rather than the court, to appoint interim U.S. attorneys pending senate confirmation. Makes it all the more infuriating to find yourself in the position of defending a guy who wouldn’t have the job but for his closeness to the president and whose story, to explain testimony now acknowledged to be inaccurate, is that he didn’t know what was going on between his own chief-of-staff and the White House counsel.
It’s remarkable that this is what it comes down to after the disgraceful Sandy Berger sweetheart plea; the inexplicable lack of movement on the Jefferson investigation (the congressman is now on the Homeland Security Committee notwithstanding two people who’ve pled guilty to bribing him, the happenstance of his being on tape taking a $100K bribe — $90K of which was seized from his refigerator – and an agent who’s sworn under oath that he obstructed the search of his home); the about-face on Jose Padilla (now he’s an enemy combatant, now he’s a criminal defendant); the sudden shift of the NSA’s terrorist surveillance program to the FISA court (after a year of asserting that this vital program could not work under the FISA statute); the lack of movement on any of the wartime classified information leaks; the absence of meaningful immigration enforcement against employers and on the borders; etc.
All that, which just kills those of us who care about the Justice Department … and what ends up getting congress whipped up is nonsense — the proper political use of a political power that the last Democratic president and Democratic Justice Department used systematically and remorselessly.
Gonzales rates being defended strictly because it would be an outrage if he lost his job over this manufactured scandal. But the president shouldn’t be shocked that there isn’t exactly a tidal wave rushing to the attorney general’s defense.