"A Very Strong" AG? White House Should Prove it
White House tribunes declared Friday that President George W. Bush still has confidence in Alberto Gonzales as "a very strong attorney general" and sees the upcoming "no-confidence" vote on Gonzales in the Senate as merely a "political stunt." This pronouncement occurred on the same day, maybe even perhaps around the same time, that Gonzales himself was being hammered in a private session with his current crop of U.S Attorneys, by now famously culled (at least partially) to include only the most "loyal Bushies" hand-selected by the White House and people like Monica Goodling. The White House's still-game-for-Gonzo message came following a week in which Republicans were shedding themselves of the hapless Attorney General as quickly as they could scramble to a microphone and clammer for attention. And it came one day before former president Jimmy Carter publicly declared that the Bush Administration is the "worst in history."
So, who you gonna believe when it comes to Gonzales' competence? The President or the U.S. Attorneys? We know why the federal prosecutors are angry with Gonzales. The Washington Post reported Saturday that: "More than a dozen U.S. attorneys spoke during the [Wednesday] morning session, most of them expressing concern to Gonzales about the scandal's impact on their own offices and the overall image of the department, several participants said. 'People were very plainspoken,' said one U.S. attorney, who along with others interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity because the session was private. 'The overwhelming majority of the comments were about the controversy and how people are still not happy in the way things were going.'" What we do not know is why, precisely, the President continues to have his flaks say that the Attorney General is "very strong" despite the overwhelming weight of evidence to the contrary. Gonzales' tenure at Justice has even made a hero out of his predecessor, John Ashcroft, and you could have gotten long odds two years ago for that proposition.
Meanwhile, in Colorado, two tepid pols went positively Shakespeare on the Gonzales mess as the week drew to an end. The Rocky Mountain News reported Saturday in a page-two story story that Democratic Senator Ken Salazar declared that "with a heavy heart" (heavy with what? He should be furious with Gonzales for blowing it) he had personally called upon the Attorney General to resign. If Salazar was Harry V, then Republican Senator Wayne Allard went Hamlet on the world by letting us know that he is now weighing whether to himself call upon the Attorney General to leave. Weighing what? The case for Gonzales' departure is painfully clear. The case for Gonzales' continuing perch as Attorney General is not apparant.
So I would to hear from Sen. Allard or the President precisely why they believe that Gonzales is a "strong" Attorney General (heaven help us if we ever get a "weak" one). I would like to hear from Sen. Allard and the President why they believe that Gonzales' conduct during the Comey-Ashcroft-NSA affair was conduct becoming a high-ranking government official. I would like to hear from those men why they believe that an Attorney General with a pattern-- a habit-- of failing to lead deserves to be able to continue to hold a leadership position. I would like to hear more than empty platitudes. Because just saying that the guy is doing a good job when he obviously isn't is truly a "political stunt."
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