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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

After Gonzales

The resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, coming after many months of typically stubborn Bush refusals to consider his removal, is getting puzzled reactions for its timing. But I’d say it’s par for the course for a president who has never minded flip-flopping so long as he didn’t have to admit it.
Reports that Bush is going to nominate Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff as Gonzales’ replacement, however, raise a different kind of timing problem. This week will be full of reminisicences of Hurricaine Katrina, which occurred two years ago. As Douglas Brinkley’s book The Great Deluge recently reminded us, Chertoff played an especially ignominous role in the indifferent and incompetent federal response to that disaster. So I’d guess if Chertoff is the choice, the announcement will be delayed for a week or so.
But even if Bush goes with a less controversial nominee like Larry Thompson, the confirmation hearings will obviously be dominated by all the questions Gonzales has refused to answer about Justice Department political practices and the administration’s Divine Right approach to its legal prerogatives. Perhaps this will serve as a distraction to the impending Iraq debate, or perhaps it will simply intensify an atmosphere characterized by an out-of-control presidency that refuses accountability for any of its works and any of its agents. This is one moment where virtually all Democrats will agree on a full-throttle, no-holds-barred fight.

3 comments on “After Gonzales

  1. edkilgore on

    You will notice I offered the “distraction” theory along with its opposite. Of course Dems should be able not only to walk and chew gum at the same time, but to tie the two issues together. But as we all know, “smart” people don’t always do “smart” things.
    Ed Kilgore

  2. Thomas More on

    I’m just glad he’s gone. Nice guy but the job was far above his talents.
    Chertoff as his replacement? Good God! From bad to worse!

  3. daveh on

    I’m wondering why you think continuing the investigation of the Justice Department’s political practices can be a distraction from the impending Iraq debate. Are Democratic leaders so incompetent they are incapable of doing more than one thing at a time?
    Why can’t Senator Leahy continue his committee’s investigation while others continue their own work?
    Why is that so hard to do? After all, a U.S. Senator is not easily ignored. Why can’t they devise a media strategy in which they come at Bush from all sides? He has, after all, made himself vulnerable from at least four sides: A bungled war and occupation, massive failure in New Orleans, illegal wiretapping, and outright lying and criminality in the Justice Department.
    For good or bad, narrative rules the news media. How hard is it to craft a narrative out of the materials given us by Bush’s lawbreaking and incompetence?
    Why can’t all these smart people do that?


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