April 20, 2007

So How Badly DID Gonzales Do?

The next-day reaction to AG Alberto Gonzales runs (as they say) the gamut of A-to-B. A being bad and B being way bad.

From the AP:

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales came to Capitol Hill with only one mission: to placate Republican and Democratic senators dissatisfied with his account of how eight federal prosecutors were fired.

Apparently, he failed. For the first time, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee broke ranks and said it might be best if Gonzales stepped down.

Byron York at the National Review (in a piece titled "Alberto Gonzales' Disastrous Day"):

Judging by his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday, there are three questions about the U.S. attorneys mess that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales wants answered: What did I know? When did I know it? And why did I fire those U.S. attorneys?

As the day dragged on, it became clear — painfully clear to anyone who supports Gonzales — that the attorney general didn’t know the answers. Much of the time, he explained, he didn’t really know much at all — he was just doing what his senior staff recommended he do

And that's York being nice.

The New York Times editorial board:

If Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had gone to the Senate yesterday to convince the world that he ought to be fired, it’s hard to imagine how he could have done a better job, short of simply admitting the obvious: that the firing of eight United States attorneys was a partisan purge.

Mr. Gonzales came across as a dull-witted apparatchik incapable of running one of the most important departments in the executive branch.

And they offered up this as background:
He delegated responsibility for purging their ranks to an inexperienced and incompetent assistant who, if that’s possible, was even more of a plodding apparatchik. Mr. Gonzales failed to create the most rudimentary standards for judging the prosecutors’ work, except for political fealty. And when it came time to explain his inept decision making to the public, he gave a false account that was instantly and repeatedly contradicted by sworn testimony.
Here's the Washington Post editorial board:
YESTERDAY'S "reconfirmation hearing" for Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, as Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) called it, didn't go particularly well -- but then again, there was no reason to expect that it would. It was impossible to watch the hearing without feeling sorry for Mr. Gonzales, who is bogged down in uncomfortable terrain. He has to acknowledge that he knew something, but not much, about the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, which makes him appear a feckless manager, a dissembler, or both. His long-awaited appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee underscored the degree to which his credibility gap has widened into a chasm, for Republicans as well as Democrats.
Boston Globe editorial board:

IT IS DIFFICULT to say which version of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's role in the firing of eight US attorneys more disqualifies him as the nation's chief law enforcement officer. There is his version, in which he was only tangentially involved in an unprecedented mid term purge of federal prosecutors. If that is true, he allowed unsupervised underlings to handle one of the most important responsibilities of the Justice Department.

The other version is the one described by three of those aides: that Gonzales was closely involved in selecting US attorneys to be fired and building a case against them. If that version is true, Gonzales was lying again yesterday when he downplayed his role in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. In either case, he should have long since resigned.

Josh Marshall at Talkingpointsmemo:

A lot's been said so far about Attorney General Gonzales's testimony today. I've said plenty myself. The key though was the response from the committee's Republicans. You know that Sen. Coburn (R-OK), an extremely conservative but not necessarily party-regular senator, told Gonzales he should resign. There was more though. Two other Republican senators, I think, basically told Gonzales that they weren't going to tell him to resign but that he should. That's my interpretation of Sens. Specter and Graham's statements, certainly. And you don't have to agree. But I think it's a fair one. And even Sen. Sessions (R-AL), who normally I'd expect to be signing the administration line, was pretty damning.

I think it's fair to say that Gonzales has lost the confidence of at least half the Republican senators on the committee. He's given people too many causes of termination to choose from. You can want him to go for subverting the federal justice system. Or if that's too much for you to handle you can say he should go for running Main Justice like some ungainly combination of a Young Republicans summer camp and Michael Brown's FEMA. And if even that creates too much collateral damage for you to deal with you can just say he should go for lying about everything that happened.

Plenty of reasons to go around.

I'll let our Great and Glorious President, Defender of all that is Good against all that is Scary, Thwarter of Evil-Doers' Evil Deeds, Decider-in-Chief, George "Dubya" Bush have the last word:

President Bush was pleased with the Attorney General's testimony today. After hours of testimony in which he answered all of the Senators' questions and provided thousands of pages of documents, he again showed that nothing improper occurred. He admitted the matter could have been handled much better, and he apologized for the disruption to the lives of the U.S. Attorneys involved, as well as for the lack of clarity in his initial responses.

The Attorney General has the full confidence of the President, and he appreciates the work he is doing at the Department of Justice to help keep our citizens safe from terrorists, our children safe from predators, our government safe from corruption, and our streets free from gang violence.

Full confidence. Now that's scary.


Anonymous said...

...keep our citizens safe from terrorists...except the ones who compose the Bush administration...our children safe from predators...except those on the Religious Right... our government safe from corruption...except Republican Party politicians...and our streets free from gang violence...except in cities.

Bram Reichbaum said...