Monday, August 27, 2007

Alberto Gonzales quits

The revolving door in the Bush Administration keeps spinning with today's resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales who has been embroiled in controversy over the firing of eight United States Attorneys and efforts to can others not in full sympatico with the Karl Rove wing.

Part of this mess probably stems from the fact that Gonzales never was Attorney General material. Gonzales was an attorney in private practice from 1982 until 1994 with the Houston law firm Vinson and Elkins, where he became a partner. In 1994, he was named general counsel to then-Texas Governor George W. Bush, rising to become Secretary of State of Texas in 1997 and finally to be named to the Texas Supreme Court in 1999, both appointments made by Governor Bush.

Gonzales' performance is another example of the Bush administration making it more difficult for Republicans. His record suggests more concern for administration loyalty than the Constitution.

In fairness, every president expects appointees to be loyalists. There are, however, times when duty to country exceeds political collegiality. That was demonstrated three decades ago in the famous "Saturday night massacre" when then-Attorney General Elliot Richardson quit rather than follow President Nixon's demand to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus also resigned rather than obey the politically motivated order.

It should be noted that Richardson was no gadfly in the Nixon ointment. Prior to serving as Attorney General Richardson was Nixon's Undersecretary of State, Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare and Secretary of Defense.

Gonzales' departure most likely is the result of him feeling the heat rather than seeing the light. Good riddance.


BlueBlogger said...

Well put.

I understand Dubbya's desire to surround himself with folks he's come to know to be absolutely loyal, but Attorney General's the one position where the occupant of that office simply cannot value his loyalty to the president more than he values his responsibility to enforce the Constitution and the laws of the land.

Heraldblog said...

Second that. Do you think President Bush will appoint an independent AG who will make a good faith effort to follow up on the investigations started by the Senate Judiciary Committee? If not, do you think Democrats would be justified in blocking nominees who do not show independence and adherence to constitution, rather than blind loyalty to the President?

RAG said...

I believe nominations should be blocked only in the most extreme circumstances.

A good example of abuse is when Sen. John Kerry dilly-dallied with the nomination of Mark Green to be Ambassador to Tanzania when in fact Green is well-qualified for the position.

There should be a 90-day time limit for approval of nominations.