Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bye-bye, Gonzo

The House Lawyer Departs - New York Times

It's one small step for man... one giant leap for the Constitution. Well, probably not giant. But certainly significant.

It's about time Alberto Gonzales resigned. The "loyal Bushie" has managed, in a rather short tenure, to do serious and lasting damage to the Constitution, specifically the Bill of Rights. From the beginning of his time as the titular monarch of the Justice Department, his name has been associated with projects and policies representing a complete departure from American values - indeed, from the rule of law.

The torture memo (with its classic line: "the new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners...") he co-authored was despicable. Spying on Americans without authorization from the FISA courts (an incredibly low hurdle) was appalling. Arguing for the suspension of the Geneva convention and supervising the torture of detainees at Guantanamo was repugnant. The firing of US Attorneys for the most thinly veiled political reasons would have been amusing if the consequences weren't the destruction Justice's independence, not to mention the careers of the Attorneys themselves.

An NPR commentator observed last night that President Bush tends to let staff situations fester until, at the brink of their becoming gangrenous, he is forced to resolve them. Gonzales' predecessor, John Ashcroft, was the target of similar attacks. Bush defended Don Rumsfeld, his Defense Secretary, and his ludicrous and disastrous reversal of the Powell doctrine of overwhelming force, until irreparable harm had been done to the US war effort. That's not to begin to address the fool's errand of the war in the first place.

Another Bush crony, Harriet Miers, was vaulted into contention for a seat on the high court with a laughable lack of credentials. The list goes on. (Rove, anyone?)

The Times editorial, supra, suggests that Bush nominate someone of unimpeachable character and ability to begin the arduous task of rebuilding the credibility of the Justice Department. Let's hope he can do so. Current speculation that Michael Chertoff, current head of Homeland Security, might be Bush's pick. That's predictable -- he proved his loyalty, and his incompetence, following the Katrina disaster. But the country deserves better. Surely there must be some respected conservative that Bush can nominate. Surely he'll want to take this opportunity, with a year and a half left until he rides off into the sunset of history, to attempt in some small measure to improve his horrendous legacy. But the smart money is that Bush will nominate yet another incompetent, committed insider who will continue Bush's assault on the fundamental fabric of American democracy.

So long, Alberto Gonzales. Good riddance.

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