April 19, 2007

Gonzales To The Hill

In about 40 minutes, Alberto Gonzales will go to Capitol Hill for a hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee to save both his job and what's left of his credibility. The Washington Post reports that Gonzales will admit to mistakes made by him and his department during and after the terminations of the federal prosecutors. The loyalty of George Bush has bought him enough time to make this last pitch to the Senate and to the American people:

As Gonzales heads to Capitol Hill today for a long-anticipated public interrogation about the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, at issue is the very concept of loyalty in Bush's world. With any other president, many in Washington say, the attorney general would already be gone. Bush has defied the drumbeat from both parties to remove Gonzales, but even the White House considers today's Senate hearing make or break.

Few moments in Bush's presidency have tested the limits of loyalty more acutely than this one. For six years, the president has largely stood by those who have stood by him and has rarely given in to pressure to toss allies aside when they have come under fire. When he has, he has often resisted so long that the damage had already been done -- pulling the Supreme Court nomination of Harriet E. Miers only after weeks of all-out conservative revolt and firing then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld only after a decisive midterm election defeat.

I'd call those two different cases, and loyalty wasn't entirely the issue in the latter. Miers has worked for Bush for years, and it apparently never crossed his mind that people would question her qualifications for the job. Once that happened, the White House never made the case for her other than her personal loyalty to George Bush. He pulled her nomination before it did even more damage; Peter Baker has that incorrect. Had Bush allowed her to go to the Senate for confirmation, then he would have really damaged himself with conservatives.

Regarding Rumsfeld, one can hardly call the delay loyalty, and the delay is what angered conservatives. Instead of firing Rumsfeld when Bush made the decision to let him go -- in the summertime, when it might have helped Republican candidates in the midterms -- he made the poor political decision that a resignation would weaken the GOP and waited until the day after the Republicans lost control of both chambers of Congress. That's not loyalty, that's bad political analysis.

Dan Eggan reports about Gonzales' strategy:

According to his prepared testimony, Gonzales will concede that the dismissals were badly mishandled but will continue to portray himself as only marginally involved in the details of the effort. Gonzales will focus particularly on reassuring Republican lawmakers, such as Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), who have so far declined to call for his resignation.

The committee, led by Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), plans to question Gonzales about contradictions between his previous statements and subsequent documents and testimony, which indicate that he was more closely involved in the firings than he has generally acknowledged. They will also focus on the involvement of Rove and other White House officials in the dismissals, Senate aides said.

Senators also may question Gonzales about other U.S. attorneys who were not fired but have drawn scrutiny in recent weeks for management problems or their handling of public corruption and voter fraud cases. Last weekend, U.S. Attorney Steven M. Biskupic of Milwaukee issued a statement defending his handling of a corruption case that was overturned by an appeals court.

In reality, it's probably too late for that approach. Gonzales has made a mess out of the follow-through, thanks to his own statements and those of his underlings not matching the document record at Justice. While it might make an interesting defense against charges of undue politicization, asserting that the Attorney General had little interest in a plan to fire eight Presidential appointees who reported to him will make him look like an absentee CEO. It's a feast of bad options, and all for a house-cleaning that would have been unusual but perfectly within the prerogative of the President -- had the DoJ just argued that from the beginning.

Loyalty is a two-way street. In times past, when a Cabinet member botched something this badly, they would have resigned out of loyalty to the man who appointed him. Gonzales should have done so rather than try to wheedle his way back into Congress' good graces, even if such a feat were possible.


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Comments (9)

Posted by Rob D [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 19, 2007 8:20 AM

Gonzales would already be gone if the Senate was still Republican-controlled and the President could be confident of getting confirmation for another loyalist.

Posted by Tom Shipley [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 19, 2007 8:31 AM

To borrow a phrase from Hawk Harrelson:

He gone.

I don't see how he survives, unless Bush is just so far removed from trying to be a good leader that he just keeps him despite:

A) clear evidence that he lied to/misled congress or just didn't know what the hell was going on in his department.

B) Damaged the integrity of the justice department with was are seemingly political firings. From many accounts, moral has been hit hard by these firings.

C) Calls from both liberals and conservatives for him to go.

If Bush doesn't ask him to leave or accept his resignation, he would be acting at his most petulant.

Posted by starfleet_dude [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 19, 2007 8:48 AM

The reason why Gonzales hasn't resigned by now is that the White House is desperately stalling for time while they try and cover for Karl Rove and his involvement in the firing of the U.S. attorneys. I'm sure Rove thought they could fire seven U.S. attorneys for no other reason than that they wanted hacks to replace them who would pursue cases that would be helpful to the GOP at the ballot box, and that no one would raise a fuss. Thankfully, elections do have consequences and one of them is a Congress that no longer gives the White House a pass on such things.

Posted by docjim505 [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 19, 2007 9:02 AM

Based on his ridiculous, pathetic and unseemly op-ed in the WaPo a few days ago*, Gonzales needs to go... after being roasted by the Senate. The man is either a liar or else spectacularly incompetent. Either way, he should never have been made the USAG.

As for President Bush, I've always admired his loyalty. It's rare in politics (and business, for that matter) today to find somebody who WON'T throw a subordinate under the bus at the first hint of trouble. However, there is a higher duty to the country, and keeping that idiot Gonzales around, though personally commendable, was professionally wrong.


(*) http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/009688.php

Posted by owl2 [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 19, 2007 12:16 PM

I never believe what I am reading these days from posts to comments. I keep wondering if there are any Republicans left that are interested in retaining power so that we just might get a piece of the loaf and possibly save our necks from the head-choppers.

I do not side with Terrorists........I believe in fighting them. I do not side with Democrats or their MSM Army ........I believe in fighting them because they tend to represent socialism/communism and anything that is anti-American/anti-military. Their party changed from anything that even remotely resembled the old Democrats. You find a Democrat grinning behind every MSM frontpage of sending all our secrets to the enemy. They are not concerned over protecting America or American interests. That simple. That easy for me to choose to fight.

I am not such a purist that I must cut off my nose (or throat) and at the same time help those that are willing to cut off funds to the troops. They do NOT care a whiff what happens to those boys. Nor does their Army. Look at the difference in the treatment of this latest horrible crime and the way their MSM Army treat our soldiers.

I will NOT help them. Gonzales must stay and if those impotent Republicans in Congress thinks they are being cute again, that they can blame again........they are just as stupid as they were when they have sat there and let Schumer with his MSM Army run them out of their seats in 2006. There is more than one war going on and I am watching my side give up and give it all away, without a fight. Who cares? I care. Why? Because whoever wins this stupid fight wins what happens from Iraq to Iran to the UN to the ICC to Global taxation to our own Supremes.

Gonzales is not my favorite fellow. Gonzales is a line in the sand and must stay. This is not and has never been about Gonzales but about if we are finally really to fight. I don't think we are because for some reason, I see everyone treating this issue as if it is about Gonzales. Why would Leahy or Feinstein give two hoots about booting Gonzales and leaving the Freezer Man on committees? I do not understand this constant helping hand. Schumer is grinning and asking how much better can it get.

Posted by continuum [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 19, 2007 12:43 PM

Attorney General Gonzales Is Incompetent

I have been watching his testimony.

If he has been truthful, he has demonstrated a complete lack of ability to manage the DOJ.

In any case, if Gonzales does not resign, he should be fired.

Posted by NavySpy II [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 19, 2007 1:04 PM

Just remember, we traded Ashcroft for this phule. All negatives aside, at least Ashcroft could explain himself.

First rule of holes: When in one, stop digging.

Posted by jiHymas@himivest.com [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 19, 2007 1:50 PM

Cap'n Ed : Instead of firing Rumsfeld when Bush made the decision to let him go -- in the summertime, when it might have helped Republican candidates in the midterms -- he made the poor political decision that a resignation would weaken the GOP and waited until the day after the Republicans lost control of both chambers of Congress. That's not loyalty, that's bad political analysis.

What, Cap'n? Are you suggesting that somebody - particularly POTUS - take an objective look at something and, if necessary, admit a mistake?

Some might call that a cut 'n' run strategy.

Posted by Carol_Herman [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 19, 2007 4:23 PM

Supreme Conflict, about our Supreme Court, is as advertised, an excellent read. I couldn't put it down!

In it, you'd learn that Harriet Miers nomination RAN INTO TROUBLE inside the White House! Where she was undergoing the ritualistic process of facing "dummy Hill adventures," in the privacy of practice sessions.

SHE BLEW IT! And, she was arrogant, too.

The people who became responsible for preparing her for her confimation hearings TOLD THE PRESIDENT she'd come off bad. (The donks were just licking their lips. Because they knew they could disgrace her. She's STUPID. Has no real idea of Constitutional law. And, spent her career in law, just managing law offices.) You don't put someone with such a weak record, up in front of the "professionals." Sorry.

Finally, in dispair, it was INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE, that the president was informed. Andy Card went to her, and asked her to "withdraw." The IDIOT at first, REFUSED. She thought her nomination was a brass ring.

NOt what it would have turned into. A turkey shoot. Where the president's nomination, see LIVE, would have disgraced the president, himself. For daring to try to foist this piece of crap up onto the Supreme's Bench.

Yes, she withdrew, finally, "to save the president from embarassment." But she was in no hurry!

Bush somehow manages to fumble the ball, when he's all alone, in the White House. ANd, nobody is even pestering him. He's a gerald ford, walking. Where he fumbles the ball; instead of losing control of his feet. And, sliding down stairs.

As to the loyalty thing; what makes this stick is Paul O'Niell's (also wonderful book), the PRICE OF LOYALTY.

Where you'd expect to see a curious president, instead you see someone stuck on doing just what he wants. Because he can.

The White House now is full of second raters.

You don't notice it?

How long did it take you to notice the dad's mistakes?

Add too this that most Americans hate the idea of "dynasty." When John, Jr., who couldn't fly, decided he'd fly, anyway. Because he couldl. People shrugged it off. That's how far we went from Camelot.

When Governor Corzine, not wearing a seat belt, allowed his drive to zoom at 91 MPH, CAUSING the accident, no less! Did you notice that your "sympathy button" couldn't get played?

It's way too late now for this White HOuse.

Basically, everything betrween NOW at January 20, 2009 is treading water.

Oh, and don't think Bush has friends among the GOP senators, because he doesn't.

(Hey. I believe pelosi, too, comes up short, in the "friends" department.)

Lots of business get run into the ground.

Look at the American Automotive Industry. Even if you saw it coming; it surprised the managers, and the union jerks. And, it surprised the workers, no end. Heck, they can't even sit it out on strike.

Yup. Baseball is an American sport. Takes forever to play a whole game. (Just like golf.) But at least all it takes to ROTATE your players are three chances at bat. Four if you tend to foul balls.

Bush has lost control of his reputation. He did this on his own. With a certain "arrogance."

Later? We'll see this stuff getting analyzed by the professionals. It won't be pretty.

Gonzales is a piece of crap.

That there's "theater" now? What do you expect. In the lonely world of C-Span, they now pepper the audiences, behind the "hot seat" with wacko's. Who shout and yell. In a small room. Which amplifies this crap.

Meanwhile, in the real world of "voter's choices," you'll see DeLay gone, now. Hastert's out. And, Newt Gingrich doesn't have a chance stampeding back into any leadership chair.

Frist's out, too. And, Trent Lott's the "best you can do." Seems very likely that behind the scenes there are players playing with each other, and avoiding the management as well.

Now, LBJ, when he was Majority Leader, would have had handfuls of short-hairs, collected. You didn't play with him? You didn't respond positively to his bear hugs? Uncle Vinny!