Thursday, July 26, 2007

Gonzo Goes to Congress

Really. How much of a dick is Alberto Gonzales?

I’m serious. There has been no one in United States history who has dared to stick a finger in the eye of members of both parties in Congress on a regular basis quite like Gonzales. His "performance" before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday was an incredible display of smug arrogance and contemptuous, carefully-designed stonewalling. Gonzales represents everything wrong with the Bush administration, all delivered behind a sly, uncaring smile and the false confidence of unilateral power that could only exist in the rarified air of the Bush/Cheney White House.

Like all the functionaries of the Imperial Bush presidency, Gonzales does not think that anyone – much less members of Congress – has any business digging into the activities of this most disastrous of administrations. Those who dare to question are considered bugs to be swatted, pests to be eradicated, obstacles to be overcome. After several appearances since the U.S. Attorney scandal erupted earlier this year, Gonzales has staked out a unique sort of useful personna for the process and for the Senators and Congressmen involved. He doesn’t care because he doesn’t have to. Oversight is for suckers. Get over it.

Hell, his very existence in the job is a giant middle-finger to the self-respecting senators on the panel (a group that does not include die-hard Bush-excusers like the reprehensible Orin Hatch). Senators of both parties decided long ago that the sooner his White House-directed running of the Justice Department ended, the better. But Bush decided to keep him there, and what are you going to do about it, bub? While every other president in the history of the republic has at least tried to appear accessible and responsive, these guys see such pre-9/11 thinking as a sign of weakness. They "get to", so they do. Next question.

In the quaint pre-Bush era, the game for executive branch officials with something to hide was to play the game of "ask the right question". Like well-trained defendants in a legal deposition, they would answer only the question asked and not volunteer anything of substance that could be used against him. But, when the going got tough, even Nixon’s (then-former) AG John Mitchell had to answer the questions put to him in the Watergate hearings that glorious, democracy-affirming summer 31 years ago. By contrast, Gonzales appears with a script and will not let silly things like good questions get him off track.

And it’s not like it's hard to put together important questions for Gonzales. A simple question like "how many U.S. attorneys were fired" in the political purge caused Gonzo to claim not to know. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the Bushies fired five more U.S. attorneys tomorrow and came to Congress with the same "what’s your problem" attitude. Far from being chagrined that his hospital-bed sandbagging of John Ashcroft was exposed, Gonzales professed pride in the outrageous behavior, lied about what surveillance program they were trying to get approved, and blamed the whole thing on the Gang of Eight senators. How bad can you be if you make John Ashcroft look good?

Gonzales pretended to listen to the questions and then gave whatever damn answer he wanted to, responsive or not. What does he care? While his manner was mild-mannered and almost polite – except for that smug half-smile on his face – the substance of his answers dripped with designed contempt for the senators and the process.

After the Nixon debacle, it became far less likely that we would end up with the same kind of psychological nutbag as president, who would be able to use his office to punish his enemies, real or imagined. Such a person may try, but he would find himself without the enablers Nixon had to carry out his nefarious designs. Now, we have a different kind of "let’s not do it again" presidency; a power-mad secret society that uses crimes and tragedies like 9/11 to declare a phony "war" so that they can claim to operate in an extra-Constitutional nether world, where they can’t be touched and can’t be bothered with checks, balances and other niceties of government that they choose to declare obsolete.

Once the Bushies hit the door, that will be the end of that. Anyone who tries to recreate this kind of poison atmosphere will be sent packing to the same political hell Gonzales and his ilk will be resigned to, starting in January, 2009.

15 comments:

patrick said...

Mike:

Clinton fired all 93 US Atourneys, but there was no problem because they serve at the leave of the president. I'm sure there is no need to mention that several of these were investigating individuals and issues close to Clinton. As Chief Exec, Bush is well within his rights to direct his employees to focus their attention on matters he sees as important. Before you go online with a rant like this you should be able to explain how what Clinton did was Okay and how it differs from Bush and Gonzales. The false Gonzalez "scandal" is nothing more than another example of Pelosi's do-nothing congress engaged in their usual appeal to the socialist left. Clearly, its Pelosi who is the "dick".

Other Side said...

Patrick,

President Clinton made those changes at the begining of his administration. He did that because he wanted people who agreed with his policies to be enforcing laws (remember, there had been 12 years of Republican presidents).

That the number of people fired had not been done previously (an argument I would like to investigate to see if true) has no bearing on this. It was perfectly acceptable.

Bush fired his OWN appointed US Attorney for, it appears, not indicting Democrats or for indicting Republicans during an election year.

There's a big difference.

Anonymous said...

So just because Bush fired his own appointed attorneys makes it compeltely and totally wrong? These are not lifetime appointments and they serve at the pleasure of the President.

Anonymous said...

Oh, for pity's sake, stuff it, you neocon fools. We on this site know that the point is (a) the timing, as midterm firings rarely are done, and only for egregious cause, which Gonzo admitted didn't happen here, and (b) the firing of Bush's own appointees.

Go take your stoopid talking points to the blogs where your ilk ignores the facts above and just blathers.

Anonymous said...

"stoopid"? Stupid.

Anonymous said...

It's ok, wing-nut lefties are only good at name-calling and perjoratives.

Anonymous said...

yeah lefties are so ignerent.

Mike Plaisted said...

Sigh.

Hasn't this "Clinton fired 'em too" talking point run its course? Apparently not.

All the Clinton USAs were gone soon after Bush's term started, just like every president since the beginning of time. The 9 political firings late last year were wrong because they were driven by political types like Rove in the White House rather than legitimate Justice Department criteria or concern. That's unprecedented and wrong. Just because Bush can hire and fire doesn't mean he should. And White House political operatives should never be involved.

Oversight is an important function of Congress -- just look at what happened when the GOP Congress abandoned that function and the Bushies ran amok, to no one's benefit. It is not "do nothing". The only reason this Congress has had trouble getting legislation through is Republican filibusters and Bush vetos. The Dems have plenty of time and energy for both.

Anonymous said...

So an employer must be forced to keep on an employee who is not performing based on their criteria????? Sounds like something the ACLU should take up!

Other Side said...

Mike, why argue? It's beyond them.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's beyond the idjits that it is exactly the criteria that are in question here.

Criteria for administering our justice system -- repeat, justice -- cannot be politically motivated. Period. That is what the AG swears to uphold: justice and fairness for all, not only for those who voted for the Prez who appointed him.

So has Gonzo lived up to his sworn oath? That's what Congress is trying to figure out -- and that's what Congress is supposed to do in its oversight role, under the system of checks and balances set up by our Founders.

So then the question becomes why Congress fulfilling its role under the Constition so bothers the neocons. . . .

Anonymous said...

So why then, if political motivations should be kept out, is the President allowed to clear all of the US attorneys in favor of his own? If they're doing their job, why can them all upon swearing in?

Anonymous said...

Now, you know the answer to that, or you wouldn't be on a political blog.

Pffft. We're done with you.

Anonymous said...

So it's ok for a President to sweep out all US attorneys when he takes offices because of political differences but it's not ok for the same President to sweep out a certain few that he initially installed because of bad performance or political differences?

Please explain!

Anonymous said...

The AG postition isn't supposed to be political.