Bush Refuses to Budge on Gonzales: Exploiting the Coming Republican Civil War


President Bush doesn’t like to lose battles over his political nominees. The White House’s tenaciousness on this front was clear in a 21 month long battle and three major drives to get John Bolton confirmed as US Ambassador to the United Nations — a battle that President Bush and his team finally lost.
As with John Bolton that often had the veneer of being a partisan battle but was really driven by internal Republican differences, the struggle over Alberto Gonzales today is really a function of frustration among Republicans with their leader, George W. Bush.
Bush has reaffirmed his support of Gonzales despite the Attorney General’s inadequate testimony that revealed that Gonzales is as incompetent as his Republican credits claims he is. Bush doesn’t really care about the details — much like Gonzales seems to care little about the details of the state attorney firings.
Bush and Gonzales have had the kind of relationship over the years that was based on as few details as possible — and trusting each other’s judgment no matter what the situation, whether the issue be about America’s torture policy or on death penalty cases.
People should remind themselves of the nearly criminal disinterest that Gonzales and Bush showed in making sure that innocent people were not wrongly executed when Bush served as Texas’s governor and Gonzales was then his legal counsel.
It appears that Bush will not yield in his support of Gonzales, and Gonzales won’t leave — at least not yet.
The key question now is whether jilted Republicans now treated to the same kind of stonewalling and harassment from White House that Democrats have been regularly shown will find other ways to punish Bush — whether it is on appropriations or other legislation Bush cares about.
Many Senators like to keep their powder dry and to not link one political battle with another. They suggest that they could support President Bush generally but disagree with him strongly on Gonzales.
Well, that’s an immature way to play the political game in Washington. Republican Senators and House Members can only win if they identify other pressure points to apply to Bush’s. They will need to have a proxy war played out over some unrelated policy battle — perhaps over trade deals or stem cell research or Iraq war funding — to give Bush a sense of “cost” for his inappropriate, unquestioning support of the mediocre Alberto Gonzales.
— Steve Clemons


16 comments on “Bush Refuses to Budge on Gonzales: Exploiting the Coming Republican Civil War

  1. Kathleen says:

    Of course Busholini has more confidence in Abu Gonzongo after his “testimony’. Since Abu was Dopey’s personal attorney and as such, has a continuing duty to protect his former client, Dubya now knows his personal attorney is covering his tushie instead of representing the American people.
    I’ve been calling the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to ask them what legal precedence there is for a president to appoint their personal attorney to be AG and to propose legislation prohibiting any future president from appointing their personal attorney to any post in the Federal gov’t involving the law. There is too much inherent conflict of interest and I do not understand why Democrats did not raise this issue when Abu was nominated.


  2. liz says:

    Gonzales is not serving the American people. Bush can like him all he wants, he still is a lousy AG> history will show his “integrity” to be flawed and his judgements prejudice and his friendship with the President as his only qualification for the job he tried and could not handle. Meanwhile, over and over again it’s the American people that Karl Rove works for who lose.
    And let us not forget the entire Civil Rights program is gone thanks to this wicked evil AG and unfortunately for me, that prolonged my Social Security Disability case for over five and a half years under these compassionate conservatives. I say impeach the Administration and the cabinet and give us back the country they hijacked.I am sick of being a homeland whipping (boy)- ya’ll this is not America


  3. Pissed Off American says:

    I heard an interesting take on this Gonzales thing today on NPR. Someone, I don’t know whom, was commenting that Bush is supporting Gonzales because Gonzales has to be gone through to get to Rove. As long as the Democrat’s push is to remove Gonzales, they can’t concentrate on implicating Rove and going after him. The logic was that as long as the Dems can’t get rid of Gonzales, they don’t stand a chance of moving the scandal into Rove’s lap.
    Irregardless, Bush is making an ass of himself with his vocal endorsements of Gonzales. To state that Gonzales’ testimony was positive is a departure from reality. Whats more, there isn’t one damned Senator or Congressman in Washington that doesn’t recognize it as a departure from reality. Ergo, anyone that is still endorsing Gonzales is a liar who knows they are endorsing someone that is unfit to serve as AG. At this point, anyone endorsing Gonzales is just as unfit for their office as he is for his.


  4. Sandy says:

    “What Bush doesn’t seem to understand is that such a weak performance in front of Congress, if not perjurious, was remarkably inept. Bush was in fact admitting, (although the asshole doesn’t seem to realize it)….”
    POA, you surprise me. Really? You really believe Bush doesn’t understand….doesn’t seem to realize….?
    As Gadfly said, this is Bush’s version of Cheney’s entreaty to Leahy: “GO F**K YOURSELF!”…..to the American people….Congress….the world.
    W is King. He has signing statements that prove it.
    Constitution? What Constitution? How “quaint”!


  5. km4 says:

    Rove under investigation by Office of Special Counsel. If Bush jettisoned Abu G then it exposes more…
    Where are those ‘bunker busting bombs’ when you really need them ?


  6. Zathras says:

    A prerequisite for a civil war is two sides willing to fight. I’d like it if the Republican Party had them, but it doesn’t.
    Politics have changed enough in this age of the permanent campaign that a President who has immersed himself in campaign mechanics and gained control over the vast network of campaign operatives and major donors has a much easier time enforcing party loyalty than his predecessors did. This changed political environment has also been affected by the fact that the Republican politicians most disposed to dislike some of President Bush’s policies are mostly old men. The Warners and Lugars of the party have no eagerness to make a Republican President pay a price if he takes them for granted; the Domenicis and Stevens can be bought off. A President failing in so many areas might be expected to provoke party opponents calling for new directions, but you will never find many 70-year-olds in any field willing to take many risks in such a cause.
    The position into which the GOP is drifting ought to be clear enough by now. To win low-turnout elections — that is, most off-year elections and all party primaries — party activists must be engaged and united on your side. Bush has engaged and united them around the lowest common denominator of Republican politics, this being suspicion and disdain for liberals and the media. Republicans cannot challenge his position without alienating the party loyalists to whom he has spoken for the last six years, and will soon find themselves unable to win elections outside of safe Republican constituencies because they have not challenged Bush.
    I can imagine where Steve gets his ideas about a Republican civil war. I expect he sees this coming because Bush has not designated a successor, and because of what Steve’s Republican friends in Washington tell him in private. What I see is a field of Republican candidates who will have to first appeal to a relatively small group of party loyalists who still cling to Bush before they can present themselves to a much larger general election audience looking for something different — and I don’t think what Washington types peripheral to the permanent campaign say in private really matters that much.


  7. Pissed Off American says:

    I see Hagel has not yet came out and supported Gonzales’ resignation. I wonder how Steve feels about that? I would ask Steve directly, but he seldom answers negative questions about his Shining Star, Hagel.
    I heard a piece of Bush’s comments on the news yesterday, and he said that Gonzales answered Congress’ questions “to the best of his ability”, (or something to that affect). What Bush doesn’t seem to understand is that such a weak performance in front of Congress, if not perjurious, was remarkably inept. Bush was in fact admitting, (although the asshole doesn’t seem to realize it), that Gonzales is unfit for his post. Even after Gonzales exhibited such a simpering, evasive, and inadequate performance before Congress, Bush credits Gonzales with performing to the best of his ability.
    Hallelujah, Bush hit upon the truth, for once.


  8. steve duncan says:

    Confidence is someone’s ability (and credibility) to perform a job should rank very high when considering whether to keep them in a position. I can understand backing a person if you feel that credibility is unjustly undermined by forces beyond their control, such as an orchestrated smear campaign by the media or political opposition. However, if their own ineptitude is the root of their troubles that needs to be a prime consideration. Bush chooses to see Gonzales’ troubles as the former, not the latter. It’s troubling our justice system is so damaged by Bush’s poor personnel decisions. Worse though is his defense recently when pressed about keeping AG. Credibility, competence and the trust of those in government (and the nation’s citizenry) weren’t factors. What was important was that no crimes had been committed. Try this out in your personal life. Infidelity is not a crime. Stray on your wife. When she says she no longer has trust or faith in you, you say “But honey, I didn’t commit a crime!” See where it gets you.


  9. Linda says:

    Every GOP Senator who is up for re-election in 2008, and gradually that will happen in all but the most red states–and even in those, the right candidate could win. Here in GA, Max Cleland who is not running (but I hope will) could easily defeat Saxby Chambliss.


  10. jb says:

    A better question might be which Republican senators still see a benefit in supporting a lame duck president with a 30% approval rating?


  11. Rob says:

    Which GOP senators stand to gain most by distancing themselves from Bush?


  12. Punchy says:

    Sorry…”Atty Gen” should read “US Atty”, above


  13. Gadfly says:

    It is no surprise that Bush refuses to act in an honorable manner and/or in the best interests of the American people.
    Bush is neither psychologically nor intellectually capable of firing Gonzales, or Rove, or Wolfowitz for that matter — for he is an empty-suit, a shallow and terrified little man who cannot function without an entourage of sycophants in place to (a.) tell him what to do; (b.) tell him what to say; and, (c.) to protect him from his myriad mistakes, crimes, and follies.
    Consider that Fredo-gate is one of those rare scandals in which Republicans and Democrats alike agree that Gonzales is unfit to serve as Attorney General. A White House source has said that Bush’s attitude towards the American people is: “screw you”.
    Bush says “screw you” to Congress- and, ergo, to the American people. This is because Bush believes that he is above the rule of law. Bush believes that he has “God” [sic] telling him what to do. Bush acts like he is a King.
    Unhappily, the Republicans in Congress typically rubber-stamp Bush’s reckless acts and rationalize his crimes, because they are fearful of losing their seats – and, because the powerful lobbyists (e.g. AIPAC, Halliburton, Bechtel, Carlyle Group, Big Oil, the Military Industrial Complex [arms manufacturers, defense industry, private mercenary security firms, etc.]) have made a fortune from the neo-cons’ plundering of the U.S. treasury, and thus continue to support this disgraceful Bush/Cheney/Rice/Rove/Gonzales regime.
    Bush’s pathetic behaviour is consistent with that of a thuggish mafia crime family– whereby the goons-cum-bully-boys smirk, swagger, and go-after those who stand-up to their flaunting of basic decency. For example:–
    * Bush continues his failed blood-bath in Iraq, despite the fact that the death-toll continues to rise– and, vastly more Iraqi civilans (over 650,000 est.) have been massacred by the neo-con Bushies than were killed under Saddam Hussein (approx. 400,000 est.).
    * Cheney is involved in the traitorous outing of an under-cover CIA operative and obstructing justice, letting his criminal underling I. “Scooter” Libby take-the-fall.
    * Rice refuses to testify before the American people’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee vis-a-vis the Niger uranium yellow-cake forgeries, which she collaborated in disseminating to the American people to mis-lead us into war.
    * Rove abuses e-mail systems, breaking the law requiring that communications regarding the government’s business be kept on-record — using the RNC system and then erases his own e-mails in order to cover-up his crimes (related to the U.S. Attorney Scandal – his role in Plame-gate -etc.)
    * Gonzales refuses to resign, although he effectively admitted that he is a mindless idiot (i.e. can’t remember a thing – leading one to wonder if he suffers from some mental deterioration) and that he is an incompetent buffoon (i.e. fires his own U.S. Attorneys without reviewing the reasons why they are fired.)
    And, of course, Wolfowitz shows his true colors over-and-over again, telling the World Bank, that he will remain as President of the World Bank, and thus, considers himself entitled to break fundamental rules and regulations with impunity. I only hope that the world’s investors refuse to donate any funds to the World Bank whilst Wolfowitz remains there to disgrace that institution.
    Such is the behaviour of this neo-con Bush gang– and, does anyone continue to wonder why there is a growing chorus (Kucinich will introduce Aritcles of Impeachment to rid our Republic of the crooked Cheney today) to impeach these traitors who continue to defy their oaths of office and to break the law and to treat the American people with contempt?


  14. Punchy says:

    I cannot fathom just how neutered (read: ineffective) AG will be from here on out. Any and all moves me makes will be scrutinized with a microscope; any policy changes he initiates will be analyzed like never before. Nary a current Atty Gen will/can be fired for anything for the next 21 months, no matter what they do, short of a crime. He’s basically boxed-in; he’s stealing paychecks as he can do almost no meaningful work (read: covering up Bush crimes) for the rest of his tenure.
    Why this situation is desirable for the Bush Admin is just inexplicable. Of course, much of what they do/say is likewise without reason or logic. So Gonzo stays, Bush says “FU” to a bipartisan group of Congressmen, and nothing changes. Odd, really.


  15. Steve Clemons says:

    jonst — I get your point on this, and perhaps you are right. but the numbers — while maybe not yet enough — are growing. That should be exploitable on other fronts. best, steve


  16. jonst says:

    Waiting for large, or even meaningful numbers of Republicans in THIS Congress to take Bush on is akin to waiting for Godot.


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