Will Dumping Gonzales Really Make a Difference?

Conservative and liberal bloggers alike are predicting a downfall for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

If you missed today's hearing, and don't have the time to watch it, here's the full transcript.

And this from the New York Times news article (not editorial) on the hearing:

In more than five hours of often-combative testimony, Mr. Gonzales, who sat grim-faced, clasping his hands and hunched over, struggled to offer a coherent explanation for the dismissals. He apologized for his mistakes in what he described as a flawed process, but defended the removal of eight United States attorneys as proper.

I'm not as charged up about this as most people. What will change with Gonzales gone? Bush will appoint another one of his loyal faves to replace him. The war on drugs, war on civil liberties and trend towards draconian sentences will continue. Say what you want about Gonzales, he's nowhere near the threat to constitutional rights that John Ashcroft was. He's continued Ashcroft's policies, but he seems to be more of a follower than a take-charge innovator of new ways to deprive people of their freedom.


As for the fired U.S. Attorneys, they all got the job in the first place because they had connections ... either to their state's Senators or to someone in the Bush Administration. None of them got the job because they were the most skilled litigators in their respective jurisdictions. Once installed in the top position, they all put people in jail, including non-violent drug offenders. They're prosecutors, that's what they do.

As for the argument that morale at the 93 U.S. Attorneys' office around the country is foundering, I'm not seeing it in Colorado. I didn't see it in Omaha earlier this week. Every day around the country, defendants are being convicted and sentenced to overly long prison sentences. Maybe morale is low at Main Justice, but it should be. They got caught with their pants down and tried to finagle, if not lie, their way out of it. But, everywhere else in the country according to the lawyers I speak with on both sides, it's business as usual.

So I'm finding it to be less and less an interesting story. Especially now that everyone wants to jump on the Dump Gonzales bandwagon. As if dumping him will make our criminal justice system any fairer.

What we need is to focus on getting a Democrat elected in 2008, one who has progressive views on criminal justice and will appoint an Attorney General who shares those views.

Since Bush isn't running again, replacing Gonzales between now and 2008 doesn't get us there.

(Note: Big Tent Democrat disagrees with me and I hope he continues his excellent posts on the topic. I'm just explaining why I haven't gone postal over it.)
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    I disagree (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Apr 19, 2007 at 11:46:45 PM EST
    Gonzales has been a disgrace in every respect and on most issues, more disgraceful than Ashcroft.

    Gonzales has done things that even Ashcroft thought were beyond the pale.

    I think if you think just of torture and habeas, Gonzo has been much worse than Ashcroft.

    The basic point is Gonzo did what he was told.

    And the things he was told to do were horrible.

    I'll agree (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Apr 19, 2007 at 11:50:33 PM EST
    that the things he was told to do were terrible. But  my point is that anyone Bush chooses as his replacement will do the same.

    Don't confirm (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Apr 19, 2007 at 11:54:24 PM EST
    a new AG.

    Heh heh (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by scarshapedstar on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 12:06:30 AM EST
    It's pretty tough to start a "What will the nation do without an AG?!" meme when the AG just admitted under oath that his "job" entails... absolutely no responsibility?

    Yep (none / 0) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 12:10:35 AM EST
    Who gives a damn about Gonzales? (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by chemoelectric on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 12:24:26 AM EST
    If one thinks this is about Gonzales and not Bush, then think about it some more. Gonzales is just a bag man.

    ummmmm, hmmmmmmmmmmm (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by cpinva on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 12:27:08 AM EST
    i'm thinking! what will change? hmmmmmmmmmmm!
    nothing, really. although, i am always astonished at your ability to become a seer in these matters: you just know bush will appt. mr. gonzales' evil twin, "skippy" gonzales to the post. while you're at it, could you tell me what tomorrow's lottery pick is going to be, i need the cash.

    but no, probably not much will change, DOJ will go into a holding pattern, pending the outcome of the 2008 elections, with respect to overall enforcement policy.

    Somewhere between Jeralyn and (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by notjonathon on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 01:22:15 AM EST
    Big Tent Democrat, there's a part of me that says getting rid of Gonzales is a good thing, but any faith that doing so will result in major changes to the way the Maladministration does business is fantasy. On the other hand, constant public review of the AG's office may keep it from continuing business as usual.

    I certainly agree that no confirmation of an AG should take place unless the appointee has real bipartisan credentials. The Resident won't do this, for obvious reasons, so Democrats will have to continue to hammer at DOJ politically.

    Perhaps the present hearings will encourage more whistle blowing like the recent letter from former members of the Civil Rights section. In any case, neither the House nor the Senate should let this issue be left to simmer on the back burner. Keep it at a boil, and keep it in the papers.

    Civil Rights letter (none / 0) (#19)
    by Electa on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 10:57:25 AM EST
    I missed the letter, in the process of relocating.  Do you have a link to it?

    Voting Rights (none / 0) (#22)
    by notjonathon on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 11:30:52 AM EST
    Perhaps it wasn't a single letter. But see this link:

    TPM Muckraker


    from a purely legal standpoint (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by chicago dyke on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 09:17:42 AM EST
    you're correct: whomever comes after goner will likely be as bad or worse. BTD is right to suggest not confirming that person, just to embarrass bush and futher make life difficult for him. however, there are benefits beyond the justice system.

    -keep asking goner questions about rove, bush, and others who had a hand in this. it's one more step down the path to impeachment

    -keep demoralizing republicans, and convince the moderates that it's time to switch parties

    -keep the meme of 'bush scandals' in the mainstream, softening resistance to impeachment

    -give the democrats a chance to look righteous, united, serious, etc., further contrasting them with the scandal ridden republicans and making things better for our side in 08

    who knows what horrors lie uncovered in the emails that this will force out? we already know about fake vote 'fraud,' i bet there are real, juicy crimes discussed in some of them. again, more evidence for a case for double impeachment, and president pelosi.

    it' probably a pipe dream, that last, but if the dems don't keep looking, we'll never know. so try to think of this as not about goner, but about who stands hiding in crime behind him.

    Gonzales (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Dulcinea on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 09:20:33 AM EST
    Jeralyn, I pretty much agree that any Bush appointment is six of one and a half-dozen of another.  In truth, Bush and Rove should be in the hot seat that Gonzales is occupying.  Instead, they smirk as they give democracy the finger.  We need Nancy Pelosi NOW.

    i have mixed feelings (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by profmarcus on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 10:32:10 AM EST
    on the one hand, i think gonzo should stay and add his deadweight to the bushco ship of fools that already has a fire below decks and is taking on water... on the other hand, if he goes, a significant chunk of the firewall protecting bush will be removed, perhaps thus accelerating bush's own demise...

    david swanson, posting in tomdispatch, offers this bleak assessment, which seems to parallel your own, jeralyn...

    How to hold the executive branch to account? The current dilemma seems like a real mystery, something our Constitution just does not provide a solution for. Even if we could get rid of Gonzales, who would replace him? Who, appointed by George Bush and Dick Cheney, would obey and enforce the law? The answer is simple enough: Nobody.

    And, yes, I DO take it personally

    Keep firing them (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Che's Lounge on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 10:47:08 AM EST
    Keep arresting them.
    They are criminals. Start with the bag man and work your way to the big cheese.

    If Bush puts in another crony, then we'll go after that one. And the next one. And the next one.

    Nice defeatist attitude. Any other issues you want to give up on? If this shiite is getting too overwhelming for some of you, you are free to leave the country any time you like. Otherwise, quit your whining. The revolution wants fighters, not quitters.

    It'll make the left feel better (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by HeadScratcher on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 11:14:25 AM EST
    But will ultimately do nothing about anything policy wise.

    You can't expect a conservative do govern as a liberal nor a liberal to govern as a conservative.

    What you can do is stop whining about things that will pass in a few short years and help poor and needy people.

    Just for the record: I work with non-profit agencies to house low income people as well as families with needy children. It doesn't matter if it's Bush, Clinton, or anyone else in power.

    Remember, FDR imprisoned 120,000 US citizens for no reason than the color of their skin and their ethnic origin, tried to pack the supreme court, ignored presidential precedent by running four times, and yet the country survived (and even flourished).

    These things will pass...

    dems ain't great ... but bush is a disaster (none / 0) (#25)
    by Sailor on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 02:06:12 PM EST
    Just for the record: I work with non-profit agencies to house low income people as well as families with needy children. It doesn't matter if it's Bush, Clinton, or anyone else in power.
    thinks have gotten much worse under bush. Our local (public donations) food kitchens are overwhelmed since the gov't cutbacks, college grants and housing subsidies have been decimated under bush.

    Standard head in the sand... (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Che's Lounge on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 03:39:29 PM EST
    These things will pass...

    Probably one of the more dangerous, apathetic, PATHETIC comments that I have read in a long time.

    Pathetic, apathetic (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by Che's Lounge on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 03:42:26 PM EST
    Now I'm contradicting myself. I need a drink. And I don't drink. Check the clock. It's happy hour somewhere on this damn ball.

    Will replacing Gonzo make a difference? (4.00 / 1) (#13)
    by scribe on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 09:55:55 AM EST
    Not for the better.

    The point is, as TL says, that they're prosecutors and that's what they do.

    So, be careful what you wish for - you might get it.  Said another way, can you imagine the following scenario:

    Gonzo goes.
    Bushie, seeing McCain's numbers and sanity cratering, decides to shift his support elsewhere.
    To give him a leg up on winning next year, Bushie decides to get a proven crime-fighter for the job and nominates (or even recess appoints) Rudy Giuliani to the job.

    Right now, Gonzo's a bleeding wound on the admin.  The longer he stays, the more they bleed.  The most generous thing anyone can do to the Admin is to give them a fresh start with a new AG, which is why stone Rethugs like Coburn, Huckleberry Graham, Sessions and Specter were calling (directly or indirectly) for Gonzo to go.  Their calls for Gonzo to go were deeply loyal to the Rethug party because they know well enough that what I've said in this paragraph is true/accurate.

    That Gonzo's inept is a boon to liberty-loving people everywhere - he's too inept to do anything but carry Bushie's water and protect him (which was the whole point of his testimony, anyway).  Someone with a brain and some competence could do serious, irreparable damage to the country in his job, even in the few months remaining on this Admin's term.

    Now, what I want to know is how did an "obvious idiot" like him get into USAFA and Harvard Law?

    The "Academy of Achievement" (none / 0) (#16)
    by Edger on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 10:48:39 AM EST
    has a bio of Gonzales. It reads like it was written by a good rethug PR firm.
    Once in the Air Force Academy, he found himself most intrigued by his classes in politics and government. He transferred to Rice University in Houston, graduated with honors in political science, and won admission to Harvard Law School.
    [Gonzales] also taught law as an adjunct professor at the University of Houston Law Center. Word spread of this talented young attorney, and newly elected Governor George W. Bush recruited him to serve as a special advisor on border issues and relations with Mexico. Governor Bush was so impressed he made Gonzales his General Counsel.

    courage... (none / 0) (#9)
    by Sumner on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 02:23:05 AM EST
    many of the ashcroft-gonzales gang differ little from arch-villains. it is pogroms that they aspire[d] to conduct.

    yet some have come forward and made efforts to come clean.

    orrin hatch is so in the thick of it. even before the valerie plame scandal, i remember watching c-span and seeing orrin hatch on the floor of the senate bragging about how the thing that he likes most about having his job as senator, is being able to use his position to get back at all those people that speak badly of him.

    similarly, he has bragged of enjoying reading raw fbi files on people. mentions of hatch on the web, re the current doj scandal, have his name repeatedly coming in reference to having business in the vice president's office, etc.

    elsewhere, this morning, microsoft tried hedging their bets, (they are positioned as big players in the escalating war-on-sex), playing both sides against the middle. they offered to sell to kids in poor countries, discount software. but within hours of the hearing ending, msnbc was back to its "predator" propaganda programming, spanning literally hours.

    i remember in the run-up to the hysteria of the constant hatch "protect acts", ad infinitum, that the media was practically 24/7 on the propaganda-mill spewing out lies, mythical nunmbers, and non-stop fear. the air-time lasted for months and months and months of virtually non-stop propaganda. the effect was the conditioning of people into hysteria in the run-up to their draconian laws. the resulting crusade represented billions and billions of dollars in air-time. how does one even begin to counter that dose of programmed-conditioning?

    they were nearly silent on the topic today. that was a huge clue. they broke many laws to get those laws in place. surely all this will come out in a matter of time.

    dianne feinstein used to be in bed with orrin hatch on this topic. perhaps the carol lam firing by these people helped her to distance herself from hatch. or perhaps it was because of her disgrace from recently being labeled a war profiteer through abusing her office. but she redeemed herself somewhat in the recent hearing.

    the wikipedia article on carol lam quotes orrin hatch as saying, "it's amazing to me she wasn't fired earlier ..."

    gonzales assured all at the hearing that prosecutions will go forward. it is difficult to believe that hatch is not significantly behind this. he taunted the ag about their meetings together at the white house. the mormon church makes it no secret that they hope to populate government with enough of their members to outlaw all forms of pornography. yet there is some resistance to the mormons, recently.

    the hearing went far better than i had expected it to. overall, i regained a bit more respect for the senators and i shed a modicum of cynicism. things aren't over, yet.

    I don't think dubya will fire Gonzales & I (none / 0) (#12)
    by kindness on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 09:53:30 AM EST
    don't think Alberto will resign.  I think the Administration will just hunker down and dare Congress to Impeach Alberto, betting they won't.

    That might be a god send.  If Congress can finally grow some huevos, impeaching Gonzales opens the door to impeachment up the chain.  I mean, the barrier will have been broken and Congress might be less apprehensive about using impeachment as a means of dealing with an administration of derelicts & criminals.

    Might turn out to be our blessing.  Either way, it's a hardcore game of chicken.

    Abu Gonzales won't go! (none / 0) (#24)
    by KD on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 12:13:52 PM EST
    I agree with you on this one. Look at how long it took to get rid of Rumsfeld even after all those retired generals came out against him.

    Bush will not ask Alberto Gonzales to resign, and Gonzales won't go. They'll do their best to obstruct and withhold e-mails that would show the how they were gaming the Justice Department, and they'll continue what they've been doing all along.


    Yes by all means (none / 0) (#17)
    by Che's Lounge on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 10:49:33 AM EST
    Keep him there.

    Have you thought about how that would enable the neocons?

    Will Dumping Gonzales Really Make a Difference (none / 0) (#18)
    by Mindsteps on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 10:54:05 AM EST
    I say, keep Gonzales.  My hope (and I may be dreaming) is that this mess may provide enough of an opening to expose the cynicism and corruption at the heart of this administration. Let's not tamper with the evidence.  Gonzales is merely a proxy. I think it leads straight to Bush.  Bush has selected, supported, and surrounded himself with these kind of people (Rove, Gonzales, Miers, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Brown, etc) and they are reflections of his own ethical, moral, emotional, and intellectual shortcomings.

    And if Gonzo stays (none / 0) (#20)
    by Che's Lounge on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 11:03:02 AM EST
    That will help us get rid of Bush?

    Maybe I'm missing something here.

    So it's OK to (none / 0) (#23)
    by Che's Lounge on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 11:44:06 AM EST
    obstruct the Wade/Wilkes/MZM investigation?

    Dumping Gonzales ... (none / 0) (#28)
    by Sailor on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 05:56:41 PM EST
    ... will make a difference because the Senate is no longer a rubber stamp. Yeah, just try to get a gonzo confirmed today.

    Sure, maybe it's a distraction, but there are a lot of commitees, lots of investigations needed.

    Oh, and the biggest reason ... it's the right thing to do.

    I think that (none / 0) (#29)
    by Edger on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 06:07:12 PM EST
    dumping Gonzo will, for one thing, give liberals and Democrats the confidence that opposition to Bush and his policies produces results, and will start a chain reaction that will bring down the whole show.

    I think that is why Bush is defending Gonzo so strongly, and that Gonzo is refusing to resign - even though he must know that his reputation is destroyed by now.

    He's got no place to go...

    Oh Grow Up! (none / 0) (#30)
    by diogenes on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 10:00:11 PM EST
    Gonzo will stay until all the Republican Senators get a chance to condemn him publicly and thoroughly, thus showing their constitutients that they are not corrupt and are independent of Bush (who is electoral poison right now).  When Gonzo quits, the Repub senators can thus share in the credit, whereas if he quit a month ago the Dems would claim all the credit.  Every headline that says that Gonzo gets no support from Repub senators helps in 2008.  They'll milk it for all it's worth.