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."

By Andrew Cohen |  July 26, 2007; 12:21 PM ET agag
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Okay, here comes the Dan Eggen team-jumping on the bandwagon like all the rest of the media sheep in the country stating UNEQUIVOCALLY that Mueller "contradicted" Gonzales' testimony.



Posted by: | July 27, 2007 09:23 AM

If you want to get a more ACCURATE accounting of this matter than what the Post states, look to the CNN article: "FBI Director Appears to
Contradict the Attorney General"


Yeah. That's more like it. And "appears" is the operative word here, because Mueller was just rubber-stamping whatever Comey said, since he doesn't KNOW what Gonzales said, and it may very well be, shock! that both Comey AND Gonzales were correct! Who the hell knows? It was a complicated discussion involving classified materials that had been previously under discussion by a number of people-and if you have 5 people at a meeting, then you'll have 5 different accounts of what was said there-that much you can count on!

Obviously Leahy thought so. He refused to sign off on that stupid Dem letter asking for a perjury investigation!

And do note Mueller did not back up EVERYTHING pretty boy Comey testified to:

"Mueller did not confirm he had threatened to resign, but he twice said he supported the testimony of former Deputy Attorney General James Comey, who testified that Gonzales and former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card tried to pressure Ashcroft to reauthorize a surveillance program against terror suspects."

Remember, Comey testified that Mueller threatened to resign-so maybe, just maybe, Comey's testimony is not ALL THAT? Gosh! That couldn't be!

The Dems. are REALLY stretching on this, and they are losing credibility, and as for Comey, I think he needs to stick to his day job at Lockheed Martin, instead of fomenting all this turmoil in the government because of his personal animosity for Gonzales, or he might find he doesn't HAVE a job any more as the GC.

And always keep in the back of your mind, regardless of who said what at the hospital: COMEY SIGNED OFF ON THAT DOMESTIC WIRETAPPING PROGRAM.

So much for Comey's "here I come to save the day" bit!

Posted by: | July 27, 2007 09:40 AM

So Chiaramente is back, but posting anonymously. Sadly, it is more of the same. Did Comey steal your lunch money when you were in middle school or something?

Posted by: Some Guy | July 27, 2007 10:43 AM

Do you believe that your argument is more pursuasive WHEN YOU INDULGE IN YELL WRITING IN CAPITAL LETTERS? WHY?

Posted by: Moderation | July 27, 2007 10:45 AM

Do you believe that your argument is more pursuasive WHEN YOU INDULGE IN YELL WRITING IN CAPITAL LETTERS? WHY?

Posted by: Moderation | July 27, 2007 10:45 AM

You see, this was a complicated issue which had several components to it, which had been discussed for a number of weeks by a number of different people, and one thing people need to understand, if you have 5 people at a meeting, then you will have 5 different accounts of what transpired at that meeting, and ALL of those accounts can differ, yet still be essentially correct!

Obviously Leahy thought so, because he and Specter refused to sign that stupid Dem letter asking for a special counsel to investigate perjury-sheesh! Schumer is really losing credibility with moves like that, if that's the best he can come up with!

And as for Ashcroft's lucidity that night, this is James Comey's OWN TESTIMONY ON THE SUBJECT:

Ashcroft "lifted his head off the pillow, and in very strong terms expressed his view of the matter, rich in both substance and fact, which stunned me - drawn from the hour-long meeting we'd had a week earlier - and in very strong terms expressed himself, and then laid his head back down on the pillow, seemed spent, and said to them, 'I'm not the attorney general,'" Comey said.

So which was it, Comey? Seems to me you want it BOTH WAYS. But everyone needs to remember, that as to the domestic wiretapping surveillance program, whaever was said that night in the hospital, Mr. pretty boy JAMES COMEY SIGNED OFF ON THAT WIRETAPPING PROGRAM A FEW WEEKS AFTER THIS HOSPITAL ROOM DISCUSSION.

My advice to James Comey is, stick to your multi-million dollar day job as general counsel at Lockheed Martin, and quit trying to foment all this governmental turmoil because of your personal animosity towards Gonzales, or you may find you don't have that cushy GC job at Lockheed any longer!

Posted by: | July 27, 2007 11:54 AM

Andrew I don't agree with the above clowns, but good to give them the spotlight also. Hopefully people have enough sense not to assume that the two sides are even close to equivalent in validity contrary to how the "Fairness Doctrine" often appears.

Posted by: Chester | July 27, 2007 12:27 PM

To add to what I said on an earlier thread, we have a poster here who spends an awful lot of time denigrating Comey when it is plainly obvious to everyone that the AG hasn't been truthful in this matter. Say it as many times as you want, as use as many capital letters as you want, and cut and paste your posts onto as many threads as you want, but I am not buying what you are selling.

Nor are a lot of people who are watching this ridiculous escapade.

Posted by: ExAUSA | July 27, 2007 03:17 PM

Well, at least we now know what Gonzales' defense to the perjury accusation is: he has a narrower definition of "terrorist surveillance program" than other people have. Under his narrow definition of the program, his answers are accurate and he 'stands by them.' This is what the anonymous DOJ spokesman was referring to when he spoke of Gonzales' "linquistic parsing." This stratagem may be sufficient to overcome the charge of perjury, but experienced litigators and moral theologians recognize what is going on. In responding to interrogatories and demand for production of documents in civil litigation, one of the dirty tricks of the trade is to interpret the interrogatory or demand hypernarrowly or in a contorted way that serves the purpose of nondisclosure of relevant but hurtful information. What makes the tactic 'dirty' is that the responder doesn't tell the requester that he is using a different definition of the relevant terms than the requester is using. In Catholic moral theology, there is a doctrine known as 'mental reservation' in which the speaker states a fact that that is intended to mislead the listener but is saved from being characterized as a lie, a sin, by virture of the speaker's mental reservation. The gun-bearing intruder intent on rape says to the husband 'tell me where your wife is.' Though she is hiding in the attic, the husband says 'she's not at home' meaning 'she's not at home to you.' No lie, no sin. Misleading by mental reservation, equivocation, amphibolgies and half-truths is common in politics, religion, public relations and advertising, and many other lines of work, even in many marriages and other relationships, but there are many lawyers, alas, who are masters of the trade. They make a living out of hiding facts, but doing so in a way that can always be defended against a claim of knowing and wrongful deception. The better they are at it, the more sought-after they are by clients intent on nondiclosure of facts that may lead to financial loss or liability. Powerful economic interests are willing to pay lots of money to those who can save them lots of money. Anyone who doubts the commonality of this practice need only do a study of discovery disputes in big product liability and toxic tort cases. The problem for poor Fredo is that he's not good at this game and he has persistent adversaries intent on breaking through his obfuscations, equivocations and mental reservations. He may not be guilty of the crime of perjury, but he is surely guilty of trying to deceive, Congress and the public. The appropriate remedy would seem to be not indictment but impeachment.

Posted by: P. Bosley Slogthrop | July 28, 2007 08:29 AM


A cogent recitation of the "little white lie" and its main practitioners. Still, I find Gonzales' testimony to be antithetical to the oath he took to tell the WHOLE truth.

If the ultimate goal is to remove the Attorney General because he is both incompetent and a liar, then the most effective way to do that is through a perjury investigation and indictment. Impeachment requires a majority in the House (no problem there) and a super-majority in the Senate. Unfortuanately, not enough Republican Senators are willing to wipe clear the fog to see the damage Gonzales' and the Administration's contempt for Congress has inflicted on the instutution of Congress. Just look at the spineless Arlen Specter for example. He talks though, then inexplicably changes his tune -- Cheney must have photos of Specter in a compromising position.

Posted by: Nellie | July 30, 2007 08:19 AM


Looking at it from a slightly different perspective from anonymous above who immediatley pointed out, Eggen qualified it with "Appears to Contradict" A newspaper is not a Court of Law and newspaper articles/columns are not bound by courts' Rules of Procedure.

Posted by: | July 30, 2007 11:10 AM

Nellie: Maybe the goal is to just drag things out for political purposes, with no real intention of taking significant action. And the President is playing into their hands.

Remember how all of the pundits had the Attorney General "gone by Memorial Day." I would think that it would have been better for the President if he had gone, but he hasn't.

Every day the Democrats get to play with this is a plus day for them; as long as the leaders don't let it get out of hand. Even if the President thinks that keeping the attention on the Attorney General may be a plus for him personally.

Posted by: | July 30, 2007 11:16 AM

Good important points both Nellie and Bosley (LOL about Specter and Cheney; I also noticed Specter's hypocrisy long time ago, but hardly seemed to be publicly mentioned much until recently), I'd noticed the rifeness of what Bosley mentions, but didn't know there was a name for it, much less that it is sanctioned as not wrong! A lie is a lie is a lie, unless one is seriously crazy and honestly thinks they ae someone else (in which case it isn't a lie) or does so out of necessity of self preservation. Contrary to much current gleefully shameless practice, opportunity, aggrandizement etc.. is very far from self-preservation.

Posted by: Dan | July 30, 2007 11:48 AM

I find the demand for the "Whole truth" to be impractical and sometimes downright disingenuous.

Ethically the person under oath is obligated to answer the question which is asked. What is considered to be "the whole truth" is highly subjective. If the question is not an obvious fishing expedition type of question and they answer it as asked, they are not obligated to provide additonal information which was not asked for, although that information may be part of the whole truth.

Republicans who were besides themselves about "the whole truth" during the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal should be equally apoplectic now with the Gonzalez testimony. But, I haven't heard anything from them. Democrats should be wary as to their demands for "the whole truth" because someday, maybe not too many years from now, the pendulum will have swung back and it will be a Democrat who is in the witness chair.

Answering the question asked should be sufficient.

Posted by: DC | July 30, 2007 02:48 PM

Yeah, the whole truth to the question asked. Screw this oh-so-"sophisticated" Democrat-Republican business. Subjective my a..
"Ethically?" " They are not obligated..ALTHOUGH THAT INFORMATION MAY BE PART OF THE WHOLE TRUTH" Why not? What is meant by the "whole truth" of an answer is usually evident. Enough is enough with the free ride for those capitalizing on BS'ing. Why even bother to include the phrase in the oath?

Posted by: Dude | July 30, 2007 03:27 PM

P.S. If Democrats are so proud of their causes and positions, and that is certainly possible, what would they even have to be afraid of?

Posted by: | July 30, 2007 03:29 PM

Of the comments quoted by Andrew, I would say "PCBender" is an exception from the others in not being automatically pro-Gonzalez, and what he says otherwise isn't much different from that said on the "other side".

Posted by: Cv | July 30, 2007 06:00 PM

Listen to you pathetic bunch of Bush loving defenders. Your attitude is King George and all his men can do no wrong. As long as he keeps the rich - rich and the poor - poor he is a worthy king who has the right to piss on the constitution in the name of fighting terrorist. Well who is the big winner here - the terrorist! While Gonzo provided King George with the advice seconded by the chief jester Karly (chicken poop) Rove on how to justify these disgraces; whether they be spying on Americans or firing prosecutors who dare to accuse the brotherhood of corruption in the name of the almighty dollar (a.k.a. Republican Party) you have forgotten what the goals of the terrorists are; show that democracy is a farce; discredit the USA in the eyes of all Muslim brothers; and divide the American public over it's core values of human rights and dignity. They win - we lose, but hey, you still have lower taxes. What a pathetic excuse for humans you bunch are; even more pathetic is your claim to be christians. Please ask yourself what would the true king do; the Prince of Peace" Jesus!
Excuse while I go puke over your stupidity!

Posted by: Tommy | July 31, 2007 09:00 AM

Tommy - and your solution to the problem is?

Posted by: | July 31, 2007 11:09 AM

Dunno off the bat, but do know that it ISN'T WHAT WE HAVE

Posted by: | July 31, 2007 11:17 AM

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