Frontier Former Editor

August 27, 2007

What’s one attorney general forced from office in disgrace?

Too goddamned late and not enough.

But, hey, you take what you can get.

So, without further ado,  the annotated news guide to Alberto “Heirich Himmler” Gonzales (and a not-very-smart Himmler wannabe at that) . . . .

By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writer 7 minutes ago

WASHINGTON – Alberto Gonzales, the nation’s first Hispanic attorney general (and a much bigger-haired version of Heinrich Himmler, Harry Daugherty and John Mitchell), announced his resignation Monday, driven from office after a wrenching standoff with congressional critics over his honesty and competence (there was no standoff over his honesty and competence – everyone knew that he was a dissembling, unethical, gutless mouthpiece with an anus big enough to have Karl Rove’s and Dick Cheney’s hands inserted to operate his eyes, head and mouth).

Republicans and Democrats alike had demanded his departure over the botched handling of FBI terror investigations and the firings of U.S. attorneys, but President Bush had defiantly stood by his Texas friend (and clinically-defined toady) for months until accepting his resignation last Friday.

“After months of unfair (unfair, in that he was allowed to survive and occupy U.S. government office space and vehicles) treatment that has created a harmful distraction at the Justice Department, Judge (Dredd? Roy Bean? Reinhold?) Gonzales decided to resign his position and I accept his decision,” Bush said from Texas, where he is vacationing (let’s be realistic: where he’s hiding from the corrosive approbium so deservedly earned for being the numbnut in charge of one of the worst administrations since that of Warren G. Harding).

Solicitor General Paul Clement will be acting attorney general until a replacement is found and confirmed by the Senate, Bush said.

Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff (heck of a job Mikie, planting the suggestion that a former hack U.S. attorney and homeland security kind of guy would be great as our nation’s chief prosecutor – didn’t Reinhard Heydrich come within a hair of pulling off a similar stunt?)  was among those mentioned as possible successors, though a senior administration official said the matter had not been raised with Chertoff (you may now re-enact the scene where the Delta House boys attending the disciplinary hearing in ‘Animal House’ loudly cough “bulls**t” into their hands). Bush leaves Washington next Monday for Australia (hoping obsessively that Paul Hogan will accept the appointment so he can train TSA guards and inspectors for airport security by drawing his weapon and proclaiming, “Now THAT’s a knife”), and Gonzales’ replacement might not be named by then, the official said.

“It has been one of my greatest privileges to lead the Department of Justice,” Gonzales said, announcing his resignation effective Sept. 17 in a terse (and semi-literate) statement. He took no questions and gave no reason for stepping down (surprising, since his ability to chew gum and walk at the same time are questionable; why should he be able to not do two things at once as well?).

Bush said the attorney general’s “good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons.” (The reasons were actually for sound hygienic and public relations reasons – they had to do something to improve his name) Though some Republicans echoed the president’s veiled slap at Democrats, Gonzales had few defenders left in Washington (Whom might those defenders be? I never saw his family or dog appear with him in public).

Many Republicans actually welcomed his departure, some quietly and others publicly so.

Congressional aides and lawmakers agreed that any nomination of a new attorney general was almost certain to be acrimonious (Even Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle might have found the one natural event in which sheer hatred could be observed and measured simultaneously). The easiest prospects, some said, might be a current or former colleague of senators charged with the confirmation (as opposed to facing charges related to the entire U.S. attorney politicization scandal). Sen. Arlen Specter, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, told reporters Monday that he would not accept the job, if offered.

But, he said, another current or former senator “might be just the ticket.” (Don’t celebrate yet – Dick Cheney is president pro tempore of the Senate)

“If you have a former senator or a present senator or somebody who is well known to the Senate or the committee…that’s always a big help if you know the person,” Specter told reporters in a telephone call as he traveled from Warsaw to Paris.

Asked, too, about whether Chertoff might be a good candidate, Specter replied:

“I think he’s a first-rate prospect.” (For summary execution? Or just to head up a cleanup detail in New Orleans?)

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards applauded Gonzales’ resignation, saying it was “better late than never.”

The announcement came as a surprise to many in the administration. Gonzales was tight-lipped about his thinking before going on vacation more than a week ago and aides were planning events for the next several months. (Idiots and criminals also can be tight-lipped when faced with legal problems or choices beyond “fruit cup or pudding cup?”)

After spending time with his family in Texas, however, and facing the prospect of returning to Washington for months of continued fights with Congress, he called the president on Friday. (So family members didn’t come out in defense of him?)

The White House has asked anyone staying past Labor Day to stay the remainder of the president’s term. (Navy stewards and communications specialists at the White House and Camp David weren’t asked – they just got stop-loss orders . . . .)

Gonzales, formerly Bush’s White House counsel, served more than two years at the Justice Department. In announcing his decision, Gonzales reflected on his up-from-the-bootstraps life story; he’s the son of migrant farm workers from Mexico who didn’t finish elementary school (and they’re all probably ashamed that he ended up like Shrub).

“Even my worst days as attorney general have been better than my father’s best days,” Gonzales said (Doubtful – his father probably had ethics, self-worth and respect from his community).

Bush steadfastly — and at times angrily — refused to give in to critics, even from his own GOP, who argued that Gonzales should go.

Earlier this month at a news conference, the president grew irritated when asked about accountability (rightfully so – no one should ask him to comment on something that isn’t there) in his administration and turned the tables on the Democratic Congress.

“Implicit in your questions is that Al Gonzales did something wrong (Actually, it’s been fairly explicit in most questions from the press and Congress). I haven’t seen Congress say he’s done anything wrong,” Bush said testily at the time. Actually, many in Congress had accused Gonzales of wrongdoing.

After the 52-year-old Gonzales called Bush Friday, the president had him come to lunch at his ranch on Sunday as a parting gesture, a senior administration official (read: consigliere) said.

Gonzales, whom Bush once considered for appointment to the Supreme Court (along with Harriet Miers, which speaks volumes of Shrub’s worldliness in such matters), is the fourth top-ranking administration official to leave since November 2006, following Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, who had a high-ranking Pentagon job before going to the World Bank as its president (and laughingstock), and top political and policy adviser Karl Rove (insert spooky organ music and dry-ice fog here).

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. (wonder if there’s a Ben and Jerry’s flavor in this for him?), reacted to the announcement by saying the Justice Department under Gonzales had “suffered a severe crisis of leadership that allowed our justice system to be corrupted by political influence.” (True, but he needs to be a little more specific as to which administration – Ed Meese and John Mitchell were pretty strong contenders too . . .) 

As attorney general and earlier as White House counsel, Gonzales pushed for expanded presidential powers, including the eavesdropping authority (and lebensraum). He drafted controversial rules for military war tribunals and sought to limit the legal rights of detainees at Guantanamo Bay — prompting lawsuits by civil libertarians who said the government was violating the Constitution in its pursuit of terrorists.

Alberto Gonzales was never the right man for this job. He lacked independence, he lacked judgment, and he lacked the spine to say no to Karl Rove,” (All reasons why Shrub shouldn’t have been elected either, but that’s neither here nor there . . .) said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

In a warning to the White House, Reid suggested that investigations into the Justice Department will not end until Congress gets “to the bottom of this mess.” (Now, how do you put the ‘8’ on its side again?)

One matter still under investigation is the 2006 dismissal of several federal prosecutors, who serve at the president’s pleasure (Somehow, it’s pretty well established that someone else’s pleasure took priority over Shrub’s). Lawmakers said the action appeared to be politically motivated, and some of the fired U.S. attorneys said they felt pressured to investigate Democrats before elections.

Gonzales maintained that the dismissals were based the prosecutors’ lackluster performance records (Re. ‘the pot calling the kettle black . . . .’).

In April, Gonzales answered “I don’t know” and “I can’t recall” scores of times while questioned by Congress about the firings. Even some Republicans said his testimony was evasive (in the most charitable terms possible).

Not Bush. The president praised Gonzales’ performance and said the attorney general was “honest” and “honorable.” (Tip: when hyperventilating from extreme laughter, breathe several times into a brown paper bag. This has the added benefit of containing stomach contents when one realizes just how repugnant that Bush’s words of praise were.) 

In 2004, Gonzales pressed to reauthorize a secret domestic spying program over the Justice Department’s protests. Gonzales was White House counsel at the time and during a dramatic hospital confrontation he and then-White House chief of staff Andrew Card sought approval from then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, who was in intensive care recovering from surgery. Ashcroft refused (despite Gonazles’s threats to blow an air bubble into Ashcroft’s IV line and Card’s repeated blipping of the switch on the life-support monitors).

Similarly, Gonzales found himself on the defensive (this is media bias – Gonzales was ALWAYS on the defensive) as recently as March because of the FBI‘s improper and, in some cases, illegal prying into Americans’ personal information during terror and spy probes.


AP White House Correspondent Terence Hunt and Associated Press reporters Jennifer Loven and Lara Jakes Jordan contributed to this story.

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