Even Without the Poll Numbers, Gonzales Should Go

Let's go to the polls. The Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg released poll results yesterday on the scandal involving the firing last year by the White House and Justice Department of eight U.S. Attorneys. A slim majority of us, 53 percent, believe that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales should resign from his post for his role in and reaction to the controversy. The poll found that an even larger majority of us, 74 percent, believe that top White House officials should testify under oath about their roles in the affair. On this last point, the poll found, even 49 percent of Republicans agreed that Karl Rove and others should be held to publicly account for their conduct.

Now, I am not a big fan of polls, especially on complicated and nuanced issues like the ones in play here. Given the partisanship swirling around the country these days, the fact that only 53 percent of our compatriots want Gonzales gone isn't exactly a landslide. It doesn't match, for example, President Bush's disapproval rating. And it's certainly easy for a polled person to say that public officials ought to voluntarily tell the truth before Congress-- it's kind of like asking people if they think America is still a great country. I would even go so far as to suspect that the White House and the Justice Department figured the figures would be even worse than they are. So let's forget the poll; let's pay it no never mind. Gonzales still ought to quit, for his own good, the good of his buddy the President, and most importantly for the good of the country.

Why? Well here is just another in a litany of reasons. On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Commitee subpoenaed from Gonzales and the Justice Department more documents and information relevant to the U.S. Attorney mess. The terms of the subpoena require the Justice Department to comply by next Monday afternoon, less than 24 hours before the Attorney General is scheduled to appear, voluntarily, before the Senate Judiciary Committee. This means that Gonzales and Company are caught in a legal and political trap. If the Department complies quickly with the subpoena, the Congress will have more documents to use as ammunition against the Attorney General next Tuesday. And if the Department does not comply with the subpoena, it will give Senate Judiciary Committee members the opportunity to pressure Gonzales on the reasons why. Neither scenario bodes well for Gonzales.

Sensing this, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y) on Tuesday announced that it might be necessary to call Gonzales back for a second round of testimony, after next Tuesday, if the Attorney General and his colleagues at Justice do not comply with the subpoena. We can't have another witness saying "I don't know" 122 times, Schumer said, referring to the testimony last month of Gonzales' former chief of staff, Kyle Sampson. And Schumer's throw-down means, in turn, that the Attorney General will essentially be neutralized as a public official, as he has been for the past few months, by this scandal.

The nation cannot afford in this age of terror to have an Attorney General who is holed up in some office bunker spending his days working to defend himself politically from a problem of his own doing. The nation cannot afford to have a Justice Department tied up in court over its own documents. The nation cannot afford to have this mess ramble on, for many more months, while the Congress focuses upon it instead of upon much-needed legislation (hey, Congress, fix the Clean Air Act and the Military Commissions Act and then go after the Justice Department). Only one person can change this dynamic. Only one person can make it all go away. That person is the Attorney General, who has made a complete mess of his job and who now threatens to make a mess of a good many other things as well.

By Andrew Cohen |  April 11, 2007; 7:32 AM ET agag
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You said "Hey, Congress, fix the Clean Air Act and the Military Commissions Act and then go after the Justice Department."

You should have said "Hey, Congress, impeach Cheney and Bush and a lot of these other problems will disappear because Cheney & Bush and their twisted policies are what caused all of this in the first place."

What kind of person/journalist are you, Cohen? Are you the kind that wades into the brawl to help fight the good fight or are you the kind of person who waits around the edges of the brawl for an opportunity to stomp on somebody -- anybody -- who's already on the ground?

I know, if you don't.

Posted by: Jimmy Montague | April 11, 2007 09:36 AM

On the contrary, Mr. Cohen, the hapless Gonzales is the best person to remain as AG, since he does effectively neutralize the Bush Justice Department for the remainder of the lame duck second term. This country cannot afford to have another AG in place who might actually be able to accomplish some of Bush/Rove/Cheney*s political goals.

Posted by: H5N1 | April 11, 2007 09:39 AM

The timing of this grotesque affair is unusually bad for the nation. However, polls should not influence its handling at all.

Where were the professional standards that should have been operating through uncompromised offices for compliance, oversight, and objective critical review? If the standards were missing or contorted, or cannot be plainly articulated, then that alone is cause to remove the whole crop of executives. The beginning of public doubt, IMO, goes straight back to our highest law-enforcement officer conjuring a defense of future torture.

The wise legislative emphasis should be on very expeditious clearing out of unfit people. Playing this scene out as a hate fest is foolishly wasteful and burdensome to a nation that is terribly in want of intelligent and professional leadership in high offices. More dithering diminishes America's standing domestically and internationally at a crucial crossroads connecting both.

The real problem is not without its parallels in Iraqi government: Once a vital office has been politicized, how can it be depoliticized? It requires respected and true leadership, but just saying so certainly does not solve the problem.

Posted by: On the plantation | April 11, 2007 10:28 AM

Is this entirely Alberto Gonzalez's fault? All he did was try and be a 'loyal Bushie'. The real culprit here is Barbara Bush, who wanted all administration officials to be loyal. Remember her saying "loyalty is a big thing in our family"! Loyalty should never have trumped competence!

Posted by: Loyal American | April 11, 2007 12:16 PM

"The nation can't afford to have in this age of terror an Attorney General who is holed up..."

Maybe it can. Gonzales in June of 2002: "the nature of the war on terror make existing laws and international agrements irrelevant."

Posted by: felicity | April 11, 2007 12:29 PM

To the poster who suggests that there is no point in calling for anything short of the impeachment of Bush and Cheney... We have all seen what we get when we stamp our feet and insist on all or nothing: NOTHING. Grown-ups do what they can to get SOMETHING instead.

Posted by: Felice Sage | April 11, 2007 12:49 PM

NOT FOR PUBLICATION:

Andrew. Could you call me about the Duke rape case when you have a moment?
Many thanks.
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Posted by: Nick Madigan | April 11, 2007 01:15 PM

Gonzo is as qualified as Brownie, Bush, etc., they all needed to or need to now resign.ASAP, get it, the American public has no faith in this administration or the Justice department. What we need is to overthrow the dictator in the W.H. and Cheney, that's about the only thing that's going to save our country! Granny Sue

Posted by: Sue Filutze | April 11, 2007 01:17 PM

Some perspective: Alberto Gonzales is only the monkey. Matters will not improve until we impeach the organ grinder, George W. Bush.

Posted by: oldhonky | April 11, 2007 01:20 PM

I believe the problem is far greater than Gonzo. It is infested WH that is the problem. This Neo-con pres and his vice...real vice...are the worst we could have in the WH. Are we a nation of more than 300 million un-qualified to have a qualified "normal" person at the WH ? Is this the great American Dream ? Where did we go wrong ? ...I know, Alas, we elected George W Bush; even his dad doesn't want him!

Posted by: wally | April 11, 2007 01:35 PM

I WHOLEHEARTEDLY AGREE!:
"Gonzales is the best person to remain as AG, since he does effectively neutralize the Bush Justice Department for the remainder of the lame duck second term.

This country cannot afford to have another AG in place who might actually be able to accomplish some of Bush/Rove/Cheney*s political goals."

THAT'S ON TARGET.

Posted by: darker | April 11, 2007 01:59 PM

Wait until it gets to the Courts and all those Bushie Judges have a wack at it THEN we will see how much trouble we, THE PEOPLE, are really in.

Posted by: katman | April 11, 2007 02:10 PM

First priority for Congress should be to impeach these miscreants, of whom Gonzales is one. He is no innocent. As Attorney General of the United States he is expected to know that heading the Department of Justice is not the same as being a loyal Bushie carrying out crass, unethical actions to please Bush, Rove, and Cheney. Somebody in the executive branch has got to protect the essentials of American democracy. Who better than the Attorney-General. But he is only one: Bush and Cheney hold the reins and lead the effort to make our country a one-party, authoritarian state.

Posted by: Emmett J. Murphy | April 11, 2007 02:44 PM

Gonzales should go. No new toady is going to be more effectual because we have oversight now and there is nothing the Busheviks can accomplish since none of their legislative goals are palatable. Gonzales is a moist little grub shriveling under the hot lights. Let him get dessicated by testimony and tossed out in the trash, then on to the next enabler, and the next, and the next.

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Posted by: wqerwrwiuouia | April 11, 2007 03:22 PM

this is a riot. blow up the white house.

Posted by: spawn | April 11, 2007 03:23 PM

The fact that Little Al isn't smart enough to resign says more about the Shrub's judgement about him than anything else. Wait, I think Karl is packing for him as we speak.

If any of those sought documents are eventually released to Congress, I predict we're going to see Congressional Republicans abandoning the Shrub in droves, while Shotgun Cheney plans his move to Dubai.

But so long as our oil companies haven't got their greedy hands on Iraq's oil, we'll still be losing our young men and women there. But, of course, none of the administration's young men and women in the ruling class.

Posted by: pacman | April 11, 2007 03:30 PM

Just a comment, but it seems to me that Bush and Gonzales are quite similar, somewhat tragic figures. They are both way, way out of their depth but, in some alternate universe, might have been perfectly adequate citizens in a mid-size Texas town. Bush perhaps running an insurance office, Gonzales doing general lawering.

Posted by: Viejo Tex | April 11, 2007 04:19 PM

I think the real issue here is what did the politics play in various cases the government had against special interest that where big Bush donors. I think we are going to find out that we have the best Justice Department money can buy.

Posted by: bradcpa | April 11, 2007 04:28 PM

hey nooen can see these pricvate messages right?
i am the first person to know about it and i have the link before it even hits
their makreting campaign.
we're almost guarenteed to get 1 or even like 3 of them. [url=]http://tinyurl.com/23us9c[/url] is the site. i had to make it a redirect so they didnt know i was
the one that leaked it before it went live.

jsut dont tell anyone about this ok about this cuz i could lose my job ok. ill see ya when i get home around 5 babe

Posted by: samanthaheartssteve | April 11, 2007 04:32 PM

my country is caught in an unwinnable civil war we allowed to srart while supporting suspension of the basic human rights of "enemy combatants" rotting for years in isolation without charges because of a) mistakes in intelligence or b) lies.

Impeach Cheney and Bush. Gonzales is a side show that will leave town with the rest of that circus' clowns and barkers.

Posted by: brian | April 11, 2007 05:35 PM

Gonzales needs to hang on to his job. He can then demonstrate that in order to be rid of another totally incompetent. He Decider in Chief should fire him but he needs to have these low octane types around so he does not look like such a dim wit by comparison. A strategy that has spectacularly failed. The danger is that people will see that to make needed changes for the country we need to impeach and remove Cheney and Bush. That is the only way to get at the whole bunch of incompetent and corrupt Republicans.

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Posted by: Ferralls | April 11, 2007 09:03 PM

Where was the outrage when Clinton fires ALL 93 Federal prosecutors? The outrage about this is so phony, it is absolutely laughable. Dems - get a grip

Posted by: jvainask | April 11, 2007 09:19 PM

Well said Jimmy Montague.

Reason demands and Jefferson's successors should know there are hierarchies of principle. No law between countries and men can outrank the law (the US-ratified UN charter) against launching aggressive wars against other countries. Without such laws there can be no international laws at all. No promise between Americans (or indeed between the citizens of any democracy) can be more solemn than the Presidential Oath to those citizens to uphold the Constitution and the law to those citizens. Allow that promise to be broken or uttered parrot fashion by an imbecile and all promises are void.

As a non-American, as a former pro-American, I must tell you that the US law includes the treaties that you have made in order to receive from the rest of us that are not a part of your 300 millions a quid for your pro.

If you, the current generation of voting American can't get that, if you can't see that you have a duty not just to yourselves but to the rest of us in a would-be civilized world to remove the blight on your country and the blight on your honor then one wonders if you will ever have the wit and perception to see that behind the brown avenging eyes fixed upon you lies a resolve that could have been planted by the ghost of Patrick Henry.

You must impeach George W Bush, you must be as good as your promises when the promises are so serious, because without the rule of law, logically there can only be war. If you don't then in 2007 it will be lazy, complacent, compromising, selfish and parochial American's that are the real enemies of the rest of humanity and ultimately of themselves.

On September 11, 2001 a Frenchman said "we are all Americans now". And we other non-Americans knew what he meant.

But so far has George W Bush reduced America, so far have you the citizens and the Congresses of the US let your honor be reduced and your promises broken, that inside and outside America, we are all terrorists now.

Posted by: Brett Paatsch | April 11, 2007 10:37 PM

Let's keep all the Republican latrine rats in place until the bitter end of this lame administration. At least we'll know where they are and have a reasonable idea what they're screwing up. It'll be a whole lot easier to fix things after the Republican party commits political suicide in November 2008.

Posted by: mikeasr | April 11, 2007 11:22 PM

Indict, Try, Convict and Impeach, then sentence the entire corrupt bush administration to prison for the rest of their lives for all their crimes and coverups and conspiracies.

Hold these criminals accountable. No one is above the law.

That's American Justice!

Posted by: FreedomOfInformationAct | April 12, 2007 03:50 AM

I think this issue is being overblown. Senators and Reps are playing to the gallery.
The AG failed administratively.His subs have resigned for partaking and prolonging that failure, however he has done nothing illegal.

The AG should not resign because he has held the interest of Congress...no Congress has to determine where its energies are best spent.

What will be lost if the AG's testimony to congress may have been misleading...should he apologise, he should be allowed to do his job just as we allowed President Clinton to continue to rule after the Monica scandal.

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FUNNY!!! (but its kinda useful if you got a dirty mind like me hehe)
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come for a vist to seeing me in fotograph tinyurl.com/2l3v6d there are good fotos for you here. i hopes you liek.
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but amerikanners have more fun! id love to meet american man maybe and come see usa?

Posted by: cammieluvsskittles | April 27, 2007 05:46 PM

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