Save Al Gonzales
During yesterday's swearing-in ceremony for Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, President Bush made sure to praise his longtime friend Alberto R. Gonzales, the man Mukasey is replacing. "Al Gonzales worked tirelessly to make this country safer and to ensure that all Americans received equal justice before the law," Bush said. "Over many years, I have witnessed his integrity, his decency and his deep dedication to the cause of justice."
Maybe Gonzales can rely upon that ringing endorsement to help recruit donors. The Washington Post's Dan Eggen tells us this morning that a "defense fund" has been set up on behalf of the former attorney general to help pay his legal fees, which are said to be large and mounting from investigations linked to the U.S. attorney scandal. If you want, a contribution form suggests, you can contribute in amounts ranging from $500 to $5,000.
It gets better. From Eggen again, here's part of a fundraising e-mail: "In the hyper-politicized atmosphere that has descended on Washington, an innocent man cannot simply trust that the truth will out... [Gonzales] must engage highly competent legal counsel to represent him. That costs money, money that Al Gonzales doesn't have." Cue the violins. Cut to the President's laughably unwarranted praise. Fade to black.
Even though this story writes itself (as they say in the business), let's briefly (for the sake of my editors) go through the many reasons why this development is so cheesy. First, and obviously, Gonzales brought all of this upon himself, and the nation, when he incompetently handled the prosecutor purge. Second, Gonzales made it worse by coming to Capitol Hill and over and over again infuriating lawmakers with his evasive or contradictory answers to simple questions. Third, even though he is largely responsible for the scandal, Gonzales is by no means the most legally vulnerable of the people caught up in it. Think he'll be willing to share the proceeds of the fundraising drive with his former junior associates? Me neither.
Gonzales deserves scorn, not donations. And, if he had shown one iota of "dedication to the cause of justice" during his years in Washington (or in Texas), he would today have many more potential donors than he does. Don't cry for him.
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