Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Fredo's Gone

Yesterday, President Bush announced the resignation of Alberto Gonzales as the Attorney General of the United States. President Bush was visibly angry in his remarks and portrayed this resignation as a result of political mudslinging.

This response from the President is not surprising. Gonzales is a close friend of George Bush and has been one of his closest associates since he started in politics. While a landslide of public condemnation from both parties against Gonzales, Bush had remained steadfastly loyal to his friend. It is surprising that Bush finally succumbed to the pressure against the AG and allowed him to resign.

One of the few traits I admire in George W. Bush (and believe me, this is about the only one) is his sense of loyalty. He has remained firm in his support of Harriet Meirs, Karl Rove, Alberto Gonzales in the face of amazing backlash from even people in his own party. So, if you are a friend of George's, then you will get an amazing level of support. There, I've said it. It is the last compliment I'm going to give the current president. Ever.

Back to Fredo. The reasons he should have been gone earlier are too numerous to mention. He was an abomination as AG to those who sincerely believe in civil liberties. Before he became AG, he was the White House Counsel (Bush's lawyer). He was the man who wrote that the Geneva Conventions articulating rules of war and of treatment of prisoner's of war was "quaint" and outdated. Mr. Gonzales was even then attempting to clear a runway to remove any obstacles to the administration's prosecution of the "war on terror".

Mr. Gonzales has been labeled by many of his detractors as incompetent. He's not. He's a talented lawyer who has helped George W. Bush every step of the way to presidency. If he was incompetent, the Bush acolytes would have gotten him out of the way. No, he's smart, and he was singularly focused on helping George W. Bush. This is where he got off track. It didn't have to be that way.

Traditionally, the Justice Department has kept an arm's length distance with administration policy and politics. While they would pursue in general an administration's policy towards a particular issue, such as prosecution of drug dealers, cracking down on immigration issues, etc. the Justice Department rarely was so overt in its political activities. The firings of 8 US attorneys was nothing more than political theatre. Gonzales got caught up in a series of lies about the reasons for this. Instead of saying straight away the firings were indeed political and "so what", he obfuscated. He said initially that the firings were due to performance. Then he said he didn't remember the details and that his deputy AG was responsible. Then he contradicted that statement. He was arrogant in front of the congressional committees he testified for. He did about everything he could to vocalize and show his disdain for anything not supporting George W. Bush. In my view, he has politicized the Justice Department to the point that the Inspector General needs to audit the organization's actions since Gonzales became AG and report to the Congress on its findings.

Gonzales could have been an excellent AG. Instead he was and is simply another Bush sycophant that ran out his welcome in Washington. Alberto will go back to Texas as has Karl, Harriet, Scott, Dan and the rest of the Texas contingent and do well. He'll likely write a book, land a prestigious job at a top-flight law firm in Texas, and continue to be a good friend of George's. He'll leave behind a record of missteps, mistakes, lies, and actions that have hurt the country.

There's something wrong with that.

So long Fredo,

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