Monday, July 30, 2007

Gonzalez Must Go

Alberto Gonzalez has been in the news a lot lately, and none of the news has been good. He hasn't been able to tell a straight story to Congress yet. It's to the point now where, if he told me his name, I'd demand to see an ID card, and probably wouldn't trust it even then.

As with most Washington scandals, the problem has less to do with what was done than in how the stink has been handled. The roots of the problem lie with the Justice Department firing eight attorneys. The Department said it was for "poor performance", while the records show that they were all pretty good. Instead, it's been pretty clear that they were fired for political purposes: either to block ongoing investigations or to make room for Rove-trained up-and-comers to get something neat on their resumes. On the one hand, the administration (Bush, Cheney, and Gonzalez) have grossly undermined the Justice Department by subverting its non-partisan mission and awarding party loyalty over professional competence. This is serious stuff. On the other hand, the Constitution says that the attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President. In other words, they can be fired for no reason whatsoever.

Had Gonzalez and Cheney and Bush said up front, "Yeah, we replaced these good attorneys with partisan party hacks. The Constitution says we can do it. Now deal with it", well, then Congress wouldn't have much to bitch about. However, this administration is genetically incapable of telling the truth. So they dissemble, put out falsehoods and half-truths, and parse statements so they don't really say what it sounds like they're saying. And now Gonzalez is caught up in it.

I read somewhere over the weekend that watching Gonzo give testimony to Congress was like watching the clubbing of a baby seal. The guy is just not fast enough on his feet to defend himself. He's been clearly trying to mislead Congress; he has repeatedly had to submit written statements "clarifying" his oral testimony, and he obviously can't keep up with what he's said previously.

Bush is no help. Beyond his usual "You're doing a helluva job, Gonzo" type statements, he's still letting the guy swing in the wind. He values loyalty over competence, obviously, and won't fire Gonzo no matter how bad he is. So the Justice Department is hemorraging good talent, is leaderless, and the morale is somewhere at the bottom of a toilet filled with poop.

And what would happen if Gonzo goes? Well, you've got a Democrat-controlled Senate, which would have to approve any new nominee. Figure the odds of getting a loyal party hack by those guys. But actually, Bush has a pretty good track record of replacing idiots with competent people. Look at the Intelligence Director and the Secretary of Defense, for example.

Bottom line: Alberto Gonzalez must go. Now.

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