Forget Censure and Impeachment; Gonzales Needs to Go Now
Columnist Stuart Taylor, Jr. argues this week that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales should be censured by the Congress for his dubious role in the widening U.S. Attorney scandal. Last week, a law professor named Frank Bowman suggested that the Congress could and perhaps should impeach Gonzales for his many failures as a cabinet level official. Neither of these options make sense; neither would accomplish what needs to be accomplished in a reasonable period. The attorney general, who keeps "taking responsibility" for his role in the controversy but then refuses to do anything about it, simply needs to go, either voluntarily or with a push from the White House. Nothing short of that is going to fix this problem as quickly as it needs to be fixed.
Why? Because this is an executive branch problem that ought to be solved within the executive branch. President Bush continues to place loyalty to his old friend above the duty and responsibility to ensure that the American people are served by the best public officials possible (and absolutely no one is saying that Gonzales fits that bill). And Gonzales himself refuses to acknowledge what more and more of his political allies now say: that he is a distraction and a detriment to his president, his party and to the people he purports to lead at the Justice Department.
Bush continues to flaunt the presidential power to appoint and then retain anyone to serve at his "pleasure" no matter how ineffective and the person may be. Congress cannot fix this mess and shouldn't even try. A simple look at the arguments for "censure" and "impeachment" prove the point.
As Bowman sees it, the case for the impeachment of Gonzales is this: "A false claim not to remember is just as much a lie as a conscious misrepresentation of a fact one remembers well. Instances of phony forgetfulness seem to abound throughout Mr. Gonzales's testimony, but his claim to have no memory of the November Justice department meeting at which he authorized the attorney firings left even Republican stalwarts like Jeff Sessions of Alabama gaping in incredulity. The truth is almost surely that Mr. Gonzales's forgetfulness is feigned -- a calculated ploy to block legitimate Congressional inquiry into questionable decisions made by the Department of Justice, White House officials and, quite possibly, the president himself. Even if perjury were not a felony, lying to Congress has always been understood to be an impeachable offense."
Fair enough. No reasonable person who saw the attorney general's pitiful performance last month before the Senate Judiciary Committee could argue that it was anything but an affront to the lawmakers and the people they serve. But Gonzales is unworthy of the time and energy the Congress would have to spend to try to impeach him. Important legislative measures would be blown off. An impeachment push also might sidetrack the many investigations into the burgeoning scandal at the Justice Department -- which week by week shed light on the rotten core that has been fostered there by its current leaders.
These investigations and the facts they uncover -- not some nasty impeachment trial -- will constitute a fitting legacy for the attorney general. And the longer he pretends that he can continue at his post, the harsher will be history's judgment of him.
Taylor agrees: "Impeaching Alberto Gonzales, as some are starting to suggest, would be overkill. It would make no sense to put the nation through the agony of an impeachment trial to get rid of one ineffectual, hopelessly uninformed presidential lapdog. But this does not mean that members are powerless to do anything beyond groaning at a Bush spokeswoman's fantastic claim that Gonzales is 'doing a fantastic job' and looking for reasons to skip town to avoid the next installment of his cloddish testimony."
Taylor wants the Congress to merely "censure" Gonzales -- a no-muss, no-fuss solution. But what's the point? No matter what happy chestnuts Gonzales offers publicly, he knows that approximately 60 senators (including increasing numbers of Republicans) already have "censured" him with their expressions of disapproval for his job performance. And what effect has it had on his willingness to just get out? Apparently none.
Gonzales should go voluntarily. But since he won't, Congress should continue to push him in that direction through the investigations it has undertaken. That way, he and President Bush will have no one to blame but themselves when the sorry details that continue to emerge from those investigations finally leave them both with no choice.
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: Nellie | May 9, 2007 09:06 AM
Posted by: braultrl | May 9, 2007 09:44 AM
Posted by: Zathras | May 9, 2007 10:55 AM
Posted by: Fred | May 9, 2007 01:29 PM
Posted by: Loudoun Voter | May 9, 2007 02:22 PM
Posted by: jim | May 9, 2007 02:43 PM
Posted by: bill | May 9, 2007 02:59 PM
Posted by: Loudoun Voter | May 9, 2007 03:35 PM
Posted by: jim | May 9, 2007 04:06 PM
Posted by: P. Bosley Slogthrop | May 9, 2007 06:46 PM
Posted by: Cheryl | May 9, 2007 07:37 PM
Posted by: JP2 | May 9, 2007 10:05 PM
Posted by: JP2 | May 9, 2007 10:58 PM
Posted by: shah | May 10, 2007 12:33 PM
The comments to this entry are closed.