Gonzo Vox Pop, Part II: His Defenders
Yesterday online critics of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales got their moment in the spotlight (such as it is) here at the Bench Conference. Today his supporters get their turn. Nestled in among the hundreds of anti-AG comments are folks who were willing to spend at least a few seconds at their keyboards to chime in on behalf of Gonzales -- or at least against his detractors.
There were three main themes to these pro-Gonzo comments. First, I was a biased hack out to "get" the attorney general on behalf of a zealous liberal media. Second, the Clinton-Reno team was far worse than the current partnership of Bush and Gonzales. And third, since the U.S. attorney scandal is none of Congress's business, the AG is right to stick to his story no matter how unpersuasive it appears to be.
Of course, none of these arguments posits that Gonzales is a bright, capable, dedicated public servant who brings integrity to the Justice Department. And no one tries to argue that he's honest or credible.
Before I share some of those comments below, I'd like to briefly try to set at least one thing straight. My criticism of Gonzales doesn't only have to do with his policy perspectives -- though I cannot pretend that I agree with most of them. Instead, my primary complaint about Gonzales is that I believe he has proven beyond all reasonable doubt that he is incapable of performing his job. He doesn't have the courage or temperament to do his job well, and clearly hasn't shown the capacity to put his country ahead of his partisan loyalties.
This is, or at least should be, neither a Republican nor a Democrat issue. And all of you who have cried "liberal" like a mantra would have a better point if, indeed, I had been suggesting all along that President Bush appoint some Democrat to take Gonzales' place. Alas, I have not. Instead, I have long suggested that either James B. Comey or Patrick J. Fitzgerald, Republicans both, would make excellent successors to Gonzales. They are both brighter than Gonzales, more savvy than him legally and bureaucratically, and have far more credibility than Gonzales ever can hope to have again.
In other words, I believe that there are plenty of other Republican lawyers and judges and public servants out there who deserve to be attorney general. And every day one of those competent people does not serve as our nation's top law enforcement official is another day we are ill-served as a poeple. Thus endeth the lecture. Let's (finally) get to the comments.
A commenter named "R" wrote this: "Andrew Cohen is, at best, a poor excuse for a reporter. All I needed to read was the first few lines of this trashy article and I realized that it was destined to be a hit piece against the Attorney General. It makes little or no difference as to the accuracy of Cohen's content, his immediate hostile attitude soured any potential for a real report on what happened. I don't care what he thinks he did, he didn't do it well and I challange anyone to tell me that he's a reporter... True to the Washington Post, bias is the name that Cohen should have used for his byline."
A writer named "Ron V" shared similar views: "By now, any semi politically savvy person knows that the Washington Post is a Democrat newsletter, so let's look at this article in its proper context. For example, the author says 'forget about the rise in violent crime in some of our biggest cities'. Yes, let's forget it because it is a misleading statement to say the least. Crime rates in our cities reached their lowest point since 1994 in the year 2005. Since then a couple of cities have edged slightly higher than their lowest point, but are still way down, while all the rest continue to decline. I could punch holes in the entire story, but an objective person should get my point." (It's me, Andrew again. Fact is, and you can look it up, violent crime is UP from pre-Gonzales times in some of our biggest cities")
A fellow named "Laughing Man" offered this: "I am not going to defend Gonzales. He can defend himself. Pretty sorry performance by him, but you have to understand that these hearing are not conducted to garner information. They are nothing but a "gotcha" show. It doesn't matter if Democrats, or Republicans are running congress. All we are looking at are non-sensical folks saying non-sensical things."
Someone named "G. Saunders" add a potty mouth to the debate: "I watched the hearings and the Senator from Vt [Patrick Leahy]. wouldn't listen, he had his agenda, The Vice President had it right--F.O. Leahy. As for Up Chuck Schummer, a more insipid a** may never make it to the surface. Mr. Leahy said polls etc ranked Mr Gonzalez approval rating at an all time low. The Attorney general should have pointed out his was higher than that of Congress.
A man named "Alan" wants less talk and more action: "Democrats, Do the work of the people. These Waxman Inquisitions are growing old. What a pathetic Congress!"
"PCBender" picked up on and then expanded Alan's theme: "As much as I despise Mr. Bush, his administration and the NeoCon agenda, it is the congress with whom I am most angry. The public spectacle of flogging an imbecile, while good theater, does not replace the sworn duty of every congress member to uphold the constitution and rein-in the power of a tyrannical executive and his devoted minions. To the facile members of congress this is a reminder. We are pissed off and we want change. Stop the war in Iraq; impeach the dictatorial president and his politically motivated cronies; Restore our constitutionally prescribed civil rights; and create a federal government that embraces transparency, accountability and fairness. Mr. Gonzales is not the problem. Our shared failure to remedy that which we know to be wrong is."
And then there was "Dan" who offered this Clintonian defense: "Gonzales has proven to be inept. No argument. So now you witch hunters think you 'got them'? The whole Administration has to lay down and roll over because 'Gonzales is inept'? There's a word for that bloodsucking on your part. It's is called DESPERATION. Of coarse , that would depend on what your definition of the word 'is', is."
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