Thursday, April 19, 2007


I caught extended pieces of the Gonzalez testimony today. If you missed it, be sure to watch at least the questioning by Specter and Schumer. Even Byron York can't defend the indefensible.

Look, anyone able for even a moment to put country ahead of party should feel deep, deep shame that the AG's office has been debased to such an extent during this presidency (and similar shame, as well as alarm, that the larger issues involved here don't seem to matter to unabashed water-carriers like Orrin Hatch). This is an office that in recent decades has been held by people named Thornburgh, Meese, Smith, Civiletti, Levi, Kennedy, and Rogers (and yes, Reno). Whatever one might have thought of those individuals, their performance as AG, or their political orientation, the office has always implied and demanded intellectual ability, more than a minimum level of competence, and gravitas. Gonzalez looked and sounded like a hapless fifth grade gym teacher trying to explain to an angry PTA meeting why he never mastered the basic jumping jack. Beyond the endless variations of "I don't recall" and "I misspoke" and "I take responsibility" (remember during the Clinton years when conservatives rejected the acceptance of responsibility without attendant consequences?), at times Gonzalez seemed barely coherent. Yes, perma-flustered. How did we get to the point where a feckless lightweight like this is the AG?

What should also anger anyone still capable of non-partisan thought is the effect that Gonzalez and other personnel disasters have on the appeal of public service. Putting decent people -- Miers, Brown, Gonzales (and yes, for all their sycophantic shortcomings, they seem to be basically decent people) -- in positions where high-profile failure and public castigation is likely isn't a great way to attract private citizens to government service. Nor, of course, is firing a slew of qualified U.S. Attorneys who chose public service over the far more lucrative private sector.

Bottom line: Gonzalez must go, now more than ever -- if not for misconduct and lying, both of which are manifestly clear, then for sheer incompetence. And the next stage -- rooting out the extent of White House involvement via sworn public testimony -- needs to start with vigor.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't know you could make it through an Ivy League law school with Gonzales' Alzheimer-grade memory. Harvard must be proud.

On the other hand, it's hard to avoid retching whenever Specter says anything. He can try the tough-talking pose all he wants. Everyone knows that in the end he'll behave exactly as a Republican tool is expected to.
-- sglover

4/19/2007 9:55 PM  
Blogger Rueful said...

How did we get to the point where a feckless lightweight like this is the AG?

How? Well his predecessor -- the one who annointed himself using Crisco oil -- developed really bad pancreatitis and resigned. Maybe Ashcroft ate the jug of Crisco after self-annointing.

Really -- who did you think Bush wold appoint to follow Ashcroft?

4/19/2007 10:04 PM  
Anonymous George said...

How did we get to the point where a feckless lightweight like this is the AG?

We appointed, and later elected a feckless lightweight as president.

4/19/2007 10:51 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

And AG the AG's performance came after a month of preparation! It was one thing when he said that he didn't know why the USA's were fired during his infamous presser, but after preparing for a hearing about the firings, he still claimed to not know! I wish someone had asked him what efforts he had made in the intervening month to find out.

4/20/2007 10:33 AM  
Anonymous Vile Whig said...

Basically decent??!!! Basically dishonest, basically ignorant, basically contemptuous of the Constitution and of fundamental human rights. That is lacking basic human decency.

4/20/2007 12:06 PM  
Anonymous mary said...

I love your blog, and I've learned a lot from it. And I agree with you that Gonzales must go -- indeed, he never should have been confirmed in the first place. But sometimes I can't quite follow your reasoning. I can't understand your residual Clinton resentiment (for lack of a better term) because I'm a Democrat and my problems with Clinton had to do with his capitulations to the right -- and in retrospect I've developed a certain amount of sympathy for his position, what with the hundreds of bogus scandals and the extremely partisan Republican majority led by Newt Gingrich and all the manufactured outrage coming at him from the right. But I digress.

I can't sympathize with people like Myers and Gonzales (though I do try to spell his name correctly) and Brown. These are people who were not qualified for the positions to which they were appointed (and/or nominated), and should have known this -- should, in other words, have been able to put ethics and the good of the country before personal ambition or loyalty. I do feel for all the career professionals who have suffered under the management of people like Gonzales and Brown -- the demoralization among Justice Dept. and FEMA staffers is the real cause for concern.

Finally, Gonzales is just a cog in the highly dysfunctional machine -- he's been doing exactly what Bush/Rove told him to do. They knew he would do whatever they wanted, and that's why they appointed him as AG.

4/20/2007 1:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So a loyal hack with no sense of ethics or morals, who followed orders without questions, got caught with his pants down.
So what!

I think this country has finally begun to realize that we no longer have a justice department but a political lynching group using the constitution and the law to go after political opponents.
Did anyone think we would get an ethically and morally run Justice Department from a lawyer that can easily justify the use of torture on anyone and who thought that the Geneva Convention was a quaint historical piece of junk?

I finally realized that the country I grew up in is as dead as the dodo bird, and I have my doubts that we will survive this administration.

The next president will only preside over our funeral.

Thank you GOP for doing to this country that none of all our enemies throught the century has no managed to do.

I marvel at your american patriotism!!!

4/20/2007 3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Decent people? Decency is awfully hard to find in this bunch.

4/21/2007 11:05 AM  
Anonymous Equal Opportunity Cynic said...

remember during the Clinton years when conservatives rejected the acceptance of responsibility without attendant consequences?

Thank you! I certainly do remember, and that's just the point. I was foolish enough to fall for all their rhetoric about rule of law and personal responsibility. I supported the impeachment on those grounds. But their subsequent actions have shown just how much the rule of law means to that party. Now the idea that the president isn't above the law and isn't entitled to lie without consequence just seems so quaint.

I must praise Bob Barr, now a Libertarian, as a notable exception. Any others I'm missing?

4/21/2007 11:57 AM  
Blogger David S./ Southern Calif. said...

And what does it say about Bush, that again today, explicitly after hearing this abortion, praised AG AG and said his testimony proved he'd committed no wrongdoing. Is that the standard now? As long as you're loyal to GWB, you can stay as long as you've not committed a crime? This administration is a hopeless mess on all fronts.

4/23/2007 6:24 PM  
Blogger todd said...

If I was a hapless 5th grade gym teacher, I'd be terribly insulted by your comparing Alberto Gonzales to me, TCR.

I think Gonzales would have to improve his performance 10,000% just to get to the level of competence and intellectual ability of a hapless 5th grade gym teacher.

4/30/2007 10:52 PM  
Blogger todd said...

And furthermore, the one guy who must be thankful for Alberto Gonzales is Michael Brown, the notoriously incompetent ex-FEMA Bush crony. Gonzales actually makes Brown look good, by comparison.

4/30/2007 10:55 PM  
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