Friday, April 20, 2007

How'd Gonzales do?

I'm still strapped for time, so rather than do a lousy job of analyzing Gonzales' testimony, I'll point you to people who did it right.

The Moderate Voice has an excellent and lengthy piece on it, tying in a lot of commentary from around the blogosphere. His conclusion: Gonzales did not win any converts, and received many, many hints from Republicans that it was time for him to leave.

At best, the portrait that has emerged in recent weeks from a slew of news reports and his testimony yesterday suggest a weak individual who is easily politically dominated. At worst, the portrait that is emerging is of someone who an outright political hack and should never have been appointed at all. An unspoken sentiment among Republicans seems to be buyer’s remorse.

Another unspoken point of unanimity: there are likely MANY now who are grateful to the GOP’s conservative wing for sandbagging feelers two years ago about possibly sticking Gonzales on the Supreme Court.

Amen to that.

The hammering outside Congress was bipartisan as well. From the New Republic:

Maybe Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing would have gone better if he and the senators had worked out one major misunderstanding beforehand. In Gonzales’s trial to keep his job today, the senators–seated in a giant hearing room filled with hot-pink-clad protesters waving pocket constitutions–clearly understood Gonzales to be the defendant. The attorney general, however, seemed to believe he had been called as an expert forensic witness.

Throughout the hearing, Gonzales displayed an odd dissociation from his job as head of the Justice Department, often behaving more as though he was a diligent inspector general called in to analyze what had happened rather than someone who had made things happen himself.

And from National Review:

Judging by his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday, there are three questions about the U.S. attorneys mess that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales wants answered: What did I know? When did I know it? And why did I fire those U.S. attorneys?

As the day dragged on, it became clear — painfully clear to anyone who supports Gonzales — that the attorney general didn’t know the answers. Much of the time, he explained, he didn’t really know much at all — he was just doing what his senior staff recommended he do.

His testimony, in fact, reminded me of Ronald Reagan talking about Iran-Contra: "A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not."

It's like he's on the outside of his own life, looking in.

As I've said repeatedly, Gonzales deserves to be fired. Not because he let the White House interfere with U.S. attorneys, but because he's an incompetent sycophant.

Several observers have complained about the rowdy protesters at the hearing. On the one hand, I applaud Congress opening up the Capitol to people interested in politics, not just tourists admiring the woodwork. I've grown tired of even silent statements, such as message t-shirts, being banned in the galleries of our national legislature.

That said, Gonzales did not deserve having to endure five hours of heckling. The first few outbursts drew rebukes from Chairman Patrick Leahy. Subsequent outbursts should have led to the demonstrators being removed for disrupting the proceedings.

The hammering only intensified today.

Dana Milbank at the Washington Post: "For much of the very long day, the attorney general responded like a child caught in a lie. He shifted his feet under the table, balled his hands into fists and occasionally pointed at his questioners. He defended his actions: 'The decision stands.' He denied responsibility: 'This was a process that was ongoing that I did not have transparency into.' He blamed the victims: 'Poor judgment . . . poor management.' He blamed his subordinates: 'When there are attacks against the department, you're attacking the career professionals.' Mostly, though, he retreated to memory loss."

The Dallas Morning News: " Senate Judiciary Committee members mauled the attorney general yesterday, but that was no surprise. Knowing that he was walking into an ambush, it was shocking to see how ill-prepared Mr. Gonzales was. His responses throughout a tough day of direct questioning failed to defend the firings, failed to explain his own role credibly and failed to establish that he is capable of running the Department of Justice."

Captain's Quarters: "I support Republicans because they usually represent competence and smaller government, not because I belong to the Republican Tribe. I'm not going to support or defend obvious incompetence on the part of Republicans, and Gonzales has been an incompetent in this matter, as Tom Coburn rightly points out....

"Four months after the firings and after a month of preparation, Gonzales still couldn't completely answer Brownback on why each attorney got fired. He testified that he hadn't even met with most of them about those reasons he could recite. He admitted that he wrongly accused them of poor performance in his public statements. He told the Senate yesterday that he objected to the plan Kyle Sampson presented him in November about rolling out the terminations, and then could not answer why that plan got followed over his objections by his aide.

"Is that competence? Is this our argument for 2008 in asking the American public to trust Republicans with power? If it is, and we cannot bring ourselves to demand better from this administration, be prepared for a very disappointing 2008."


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The complaints from fellow Republicans that I hear----and happen to agree with----about Gonzales, is that he isn't AGGRESSIVE in his defense. Since he doesn't have much else to lose, I would have thought more of him had he called the panel on their charges. For instance....

1) Gonzales should have had the Feinstein letter to him ready. And when she spoke to him about Carol Lam, he should have read aloud her VERY OWN words of COMPLAINT about Lam's district and it's lack of immigration enforcement. He should have put her on the defensive and made her explain why she believed----as others evidently did---why Carol Lam had failed in that area.

2) He should have continually asked both Schumer and Leahy EACH time they questioned him....."SENATOR, WHAT SPECIFIC EVIDENCE DO YOU HAVE THAT I BROKE ANY LAWS CONCERNING THE FIRING OF THESE 8 U.S. ATTORNEY'S. IF YOU HAVE SUCH EVIDENCE, WOULD YOU PLEASE LAY IT OUT RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW. AND IF YOU DO NOT HAVE SUCH EVIDENCE, THEN WHY IS THIS HEARING BEING CONDUCTED?" And when they side-stepped the answer.....he should have come back with...."So I take that as a "NO, you don't have any such evidence."

3) He should have found a way to work into his answers the fact that Janet Reno was allowed to keep her AG job----even though she badly mishandled a situation that left 100+ innocent women and children dead....and that he hardly thinks the errors he admits to having made in the firing of these 8 U.S. Attorneys, hardly compares and hardly warrants his resignation.


4/20/2007 5:41 PM  

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