Monday, August 27, 2007

Bye-bye Berto.

A strange migration is happening this August. As George W. Bush prepares to assume the mantle of "lame duck" president, some of the rats upon his ship are jumping off. A couple of weeks ago Karl Rove announced his long-awaited resignation. While this inspired a wave of celebration throughout much of the country, only the most truly naive of political watchers could possibly believe that Rove will no longer hold influence over our hapless president. God only knows what insidious plots he will be cooking up over the next year, but one would have to be extremely dim to imagine that he won't be involved somehow in the 2008 presidential race. It makes the most sense to suggest that his timing has everything to do with the ongoing Congressional investigations that involve him.

Much the same could apply to today's defector from the Bush regime. Alberto Gonzales (US Attorney General) has officially announced his resignation, effective September 15th. Certain members of the media have been predicting this move for months, and the only true surprise seems to rest in the timing of the decision. I've already heard speculation that this is a duck-and-cover tactic, as Congress is set to resume session next month, and Gonzales has been very much a lightning rod for criticism within the Bush administration. But even members of the federal justice department are expressing their shock. They claim that they had no idea that Gonzales would do such a thing. Nevertheless his departure can only be viewed as a significant gift to the American people.

George W. Bush's comments in response to the latest events are appalling, if not expected. In a contentious speech in which he accepted this resignation, he angrily expressed his opinion that it is a shame that politics has forced a good man out of "public service". Evidently our president truly thinks that partisanship had impeded Gonzales from carrying out his duties. Of course this leads one to wonder about the role of attorney general. Is he expected to commit a campaign of perjury in Congressional hearings? Perhaps the job description demands the complete politicization of the justice department?

It's incredible that not too long ago Alberto Gonzales was on Dubya's short-list of supreme court justice nominees. His main qualification for such an honor was clearly his friendship with the former governor of Texas. When it comes to the law (both constitutional and international), Gonzales has consistently failed to demonstrate expertise or even a basic understanding. He was notorious for saying that "there is no express grant of habeas (corpus) in the Constitution". He's been a driving force behind the warrantless domestic eavesdropping program that has been directed inappropriately against US citizens. He's written "legal" arguments describing his belief that the United States Government does not have to honor the Geneva Conventions while fighting the "War on Terror". He's lied about his involvement in the firings of several US attorneys who refused to drink the party kool-aid. He's demonstrated a complete regard (and in some cases contempt) for civil liberties. The only masters he has served have been the stategists in Bush's executive department.

The big question now is- Who will succed Gonzales as the head of the justice department? There are whisperings that Bush intends to push Michael Chertoff forward for the job. The current Homeland Security Czar drew fierce criticism in the wake of the Katrina disaster, due to his neglect of FEMA- a governmental body he was purported to lead before flood. His neglect of that agency contributed to the complete incompetence demonstrated by the federal government in the hurricane's wake. Whomever Bush nominates to take Gonzales' place faces a tougher struggle for confirmation than either of the two previous attorney generals who served at the president's "pleasure". This time around the Democrats control both houses of congress, and there is no way they are going to give a prospective appointee a free pass into office. Even the Republican majority must be wary, given the records of Gonzales and predecessor John Ashcroft.

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