Gonzo Vox Pop

It's a slow time in the world of legal news. Many lawyers are on vacation sharpening their fangs or attending seminars like "Who Are You Going to Believe? Me or Your Own Eyes?" And many judges are taking time to practice sleeping with their eyes open. So I thought today I would do something I really should do more of here at the Bench Conference: a post devoted entirely to your comments; in this case, about my last post about Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.

Many of you can tell from the tone of my writing about Gonzales that I find it simply unbelievable that Washington's political and legal establishment (and by that I mean elected and unelected leaders in both parties) hasn't gone to the White House and told President Bush that the country cannot afford to have such a venal leader at the Justice Department. And judging from the tone of your comments, many of you -- to a degree that surprised me -- seem to agree.

"Read Life" wrote: "It was one of the most astounding performances by an administration official in my life time. I would put it right up next to Senator McCarthy and his witch hunt. Gonzales has proven himself, through his own words and actions to be utterly incapable of being Attorney General. Does Bush keep him on for fear that an independent Attorney General would not protect him from the crimes and misdemeanors of his administration? Is Bush hiding behind the skirts (trousers) of this rather pathetic AG?"

"Charles" added this: "The problem is that Gonzales will not stand down. Why? The Bush Administration steadfastly stands behind him. Why? There is only one course of action here. Congress must take the responsible course an exercise the articles of impeachment against both the President and the Vice-President. Congress must take back the power they have yielded to the executive branch particularly since 9-11."

From "Corbett" we get this: "I'm never been one to advocate impeachment, but it is looking more and more as though the Attorney General is either: 1) so completely detached as to be criminally negligent in the performance of his duties; or 2) willfully misleading Congress (and even more importantly, the American people) In either instance, Gonzales must go for the same of the country, and DOJ. And if impeachment is necessary, then Congress should reluctantly proceed in that direction."

Here's what "Bart Laws" wrote: "You call Gonzales inept and non-credible, which is true, but why do you stop short of saying what is also true, which is that he is a liar and a criminal? He must be impeached and removed from office, for the good of the republic, and criminally prosecuted. Why can't you say this? It is the only conclusion that reasonable people can draw."

And from "Rodney Lamprey" this: "Andrew Cohen doesn't understand the seriousness of the undermining the Constitution by the Bush Administration. He plays the Gonzales purgery testimony for laughs. The Attorney General and many others in Bush administration have lied and concealed their illegal activities, and need to be exposed."

"Carl from LA" offered this: "You are so wrong. Gonzales is doing exactly what Bush wants him to do, and he is doing it superbly. So far, he has used up months with his clowning, and every day he wastes brings us one day closer to the end of Bush's term. Then, the Republicans, with the collaboration of the entire mainstream press, are going to start a deafening chorus of "get over it- it's ancient history", and do every thing they can to see that the sordid story of Bush Administration corruption is buried...."

"Why do you all say he is 'incompetent?' asked "MW". "Typically, one must parse his sentences to discover what he is or is not saying. I think this AG is doing precisely what his bosses want - he's acting like a barricade, frustrating the Congress with his innumerable lies and inconsistent answers, thereby keeping the Congress and the people away from the White House."

By Andrew Cohen |  July 26, 2007; 8:00 AM ET agag
Previous: Gonzo on the Hill: A Comedic Tragedy | Next: Gonzo Vox Pop, Part II: His Defenders


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Gonzo knows where the bodies are buried. If he goes down, they all go down. Is this a great country or what?

Posted by: John | July 26, 2007 11:00 AM

I was wondering why all links to this blog other than the dropdown vanished from the home page. I thought the tone of the previous post to be spot-on given Gonzales' out-in-the-open dishonesty.

Gonzales contradicted himself every few minutes and after his bit about "I clarified two days later with a reporter" the session should have terminated.

Thanks for a great blog.

Posted by: Chris Fox | July 26, 2007 11:43 AM

Andrew, just want to indicate that I greatly enjoy and appreciate your blog. I'm a bit surprised how I am in basic agreement 90-95% with whatever you've written on in the last six months.

Posted by: Dan | July 26, 2007 12:07 PM

One "stalwart" Democrat stands up for AG Gonzales, and he is former HUD Sec. Henry Cisneros. This is some of what Cisneros says about Gonzales in a Jan. 9, 2005 Wall Street editorial: ". . . Alberto Gonzales ... is a seasoned legal professional ... and is a person of sterling character". He goes on: "Judge Gonzales has demonstrated a nuanced understanding of the struggles people face ... His confirmation ... can be part of America's steady march toward liberty and justice for all."
I wonder what Cisneros would say today?

Posted by: Fernando Centeno | July 26, 2007 12:59 PM

One "stalwart" Democrat stands up for AG Gonzales, and he is former HUD Sec. Henry Cisneros. This is some of what Cisneros says about Gonzales in a Jan. 9, 2005 Wall Street editorial: ". . . Alberto Gonzales ... is a seasoned legal professional ... and is a person of sterling character". He goes on: "Judge Gonzales has demonstrated a nuanced understanding of the struggles people face ... His confirmation ... can be part of America's steady march toward liberty and justice for all."
I wonder what Cisneros would say today?

Posted by: Fernando Centeno | July 26, 2007 12:59 PM

I'm no fan of Mr. Gonzales; indeed, one must wonder whether he has any fans other than his mother, his dog, George Bush and Dick Cheney, and Senator Hatch. But I've taken to thinking of him as the Prisoner of Main Justice, kind of like Pope Pius IX as the Prisoner of the Vatican after the then-new Italian state absorbed the Papal States. Although he is doing his best to disguise the fact, Gonzales is not a thoroughly stupid man. It's hard to think of him as 'gifted' in any way anymore, but he's not a slack-jawed idiot. He knows what is being said and written about him througout the country. He knows what is being said about him within DOJ. He knows how he is being skewered by Keith Olberman and his guests. He knows he has fallen from a position of the pride of the Hispanic community to an object of contempt and ridicule. He knows the significance of having to be placed under oath to testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee and to be called to his face during his televised testimony a liar (for all practical purposes) and a perjurer. He also must know that he doesn't even have the respect of those for whom he is throwing himself on the sword, Bush and Cheney, for those two respect only strength and ruthlessness and Gonzales is the epitome of weakness and vulnerability. He's not even a good liar. What man in his right mind would not only willingly put up with all this, but also risk criminal prosecution and impeachment and a place in the history books as a lying, perjurious lapdog lawyer for a mendacious BushCheney regime? There is no honor left in the job any more, only dishonor and serious risk. I have to conclude that George Bush and Dick Cheney own this guy in more ways than we know and that they have ordered him to remain in the AG's office under penalty of suffering something worse than he has been experiencing for the last several months. Otherwise surely he would be gone by now, tending to his wounds back in Texas, or perhaps hiding out in a hut in Tasmania or Patagonia. I just can't get myself to believe that anyone would willingly stay on the job as he has, under these circumstances, without a big gun to the back of his head. I'm guessing that the only release for the Prisoner of Main Justice will come in the form of an indictment or an article of impeachment. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy, unless it were GWB or Darth Cheney.

Posted by: P. Bosley Sloglthrop | July 26, 2007 01:26 PM

I've long regarded Cisneros as a dignified bs'er. Just the wording in the small part what YOU quoted: who says "sterling character" "nuanced understanding" and expects to be considered factually authoritative?

Posted by: | July 26, 2007 01:46 PM

(Vox pop, good one)

Bos: He is a very close friend of the president, what others may consider servility and blind loyalty can be highly esteemed in his culture, and has said the president is his personal hero. Sure, people may confide surreptitious things (I guarantee GW is one who would put the justification of his delusional cause above man-made niceties of laws, as if it is only so much man-made "grammar" enclosing the spirit) to their friends.

Posted by: Ben | July 26, 2007 01:53 PM

Appreciate yes, but I sometimes wonder if Andrew writes what he does after poll-testing what most of his audience wants, or if he believes what he writes. Whatever, it's an important space at the least.

Posted by: Larry G | July 26, 2007 01:56 PM

Arlen Specter today says he "might raise the subject" with the president on AirForce1

Huh? The president has no idea, or says nothing to the people he works with? This is all done on a personal basis, with great trepidation for our highest officials' sensitivities? Direct killing people without any effect on one's habits and routine, no problem, but WATCH OUT NOT TO HURT HIS FEELINGS (I remember George senior saying that "it would really upset him awfully if he believed people thought he wasn't doing the best thing")

Posted by: Bewildered | July 26, 2007 02:23 PM

Let's rexamine why Gonzo can't or won't leave. He's not stupid, he was appointed by the President as a trusted accomplice who would do his will as AG, and his public statements and testimony have been nothing less than willfull self destruction. What has this accomplished? Well, he has destroyed his usefullness to the enemy. He can no longer in any credible and effective way do the will of the President even with a gun to his head. Against stupidity the gods themselves struggle in vain. It may be that was his only real way out.

Posted by: okbyme | July 26, 2007 02:41 PM

Andrew: The "clarified two days later with a reporter" line purportedly referred to WaPo's own Dan Eggan. I've been looking, but I haven't found Dan's version of the events. Well, what does Dan say?


Posted by: tmoore | July 26, 2007 03:33 PM

Mr. Cohen: I'd like to know how your increasing scepticism (as they spell it here) about the Bush Crime Family has affected what you do with your work at CBS News (which I cannot watch, for obvious reasons.) Are you airing more pointed pieces to match your attitude on this blog? Are your fellow newspeople going after this dangerously dictatorial administration with more vigour, instead of giving it the free ride of the first six years? Give us some insider perspective. Will the media finally grow a set of balls before the imposition of martial law? Because unless it stops enabling these fascists, the politicians won't have the courage to stop them until something drastic happens.

Posted by: Bukko in Australia | July 26, 2007 03:47 PM

In Soviet Russia, the government lies to you. In America, the government lies to itself!

Posted by: Yakoff S. | July 26, 2007 04:57 PM

I think Gonzo was lawyer!

Posted by: Josef K. | July 26, 2007 05:01 PM

To no small extent, appearance is no longer importance to this administration: it's lame duck. It doesn't matter how much shi*t is dumped on Gonzales, he'll stay, because he can officially vet administration actions. Cheney's proven beyond all doubt that the appearance of power and legitimacy is nothing. It simply doesn't matter that Congress and the nation consider Gonzales to be completely unworthy. Analogously to the saying, "possession is 9/10 of the law", Gonzales already possesses the office of AG. Short of a court order for him to leave, he won't. What's disgrace to a shameless dog?

Posted by: Michael | July 26, 2007 05:18 PM

Best of the Washington Post!

Posted by: Andy | July 26, 2007 07:18 PM

BTW, no accusation meant whatsoever to Andrew; I was just mentioning a thought. If Andrew denied it, that's enough for me.

To Bukko: I'm curious too; of course I'm sure Andrew wouldn't want to lose his job either.

Posted by: Larry | July 27, 2007 12:21 PM

"It's a slow time in the world of legal news" huh? ONLY because you've chosen to ignore the story of the Marine charged by John Murtha, D-Pa, of the "cold blooded murder" of Iraqi civilians being dropped; or that Murtha had failed to mention that the charge he had made to the TIME magazine reporter was based solely on the testimony of known insurgent propagandists.

No self respecting journalist would have failed to report this story with the same equal vigor as he had applied to his story about Albert Gonzoles' far lesser crimes.

To demand Murtha's impeachment and removal from office would have been a story worthy of a real reporter, but not one employed by the Washington-Post seems to be interested in that story. I wonder why? Liberal bias?

Why, of course not, LOL

Posted by: cbard28 | August 10, 2007 11:27 PM

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