With the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (hereafter referred to as Torqueberto, Gonzo, or That Lying SOB), the last of the Texas Crony Mafia has been removed from the day to day advisors working with President George William Bush (hereafter referred to as Dubya).
Karl Rove previously announced his resignation earlier, all the better to work his dark arts in secret. Karen Hughes has been exiled off as Under Secretary for Making Brown People Hate Us Less. That left Al as the last bastion of the cabal Dubya brought from Austin to Washington.
While Rove is easily the most reviled, Gonzo was the most emblematic of the problems with Dubya’s inner circle. His incompetence, cronyism, and general brown-nosing reached heights unknown in modern political history. Like a combination of Woody Allen’s Zelig and Joe Btfsplk from Li’l Abner, whenever and wherever disaster struck the Bush Administration, Gonzales was somewhere to be found. His general lackeyism and lack of professionalism followed him from back in the day, so let’s recap the general fiasco that has been our latest Attorney General.
10. Cronyism Over Competency. In a reverse Peter Principle common to the Bush Administration (and indeed to Dubya’s career itself), incompetence is rewarded with promotion as long as loyalty is enforced. Gonzo was a lawyer with Enron’s favorite firm when Dubya made him successively General Counsel, Texas Secretary of State and Texas Supreme Court Justice before dragging him to Washington with him. Every public service job he has ever held has been a direct appointment by Dubya and he has never forgotten it.
9. Death Row Thumbs Down. As Dubya’s Texan Attorney General, Gonzo never saw a death row case that was ambiguous, spotty, or unjust. He wrote summaries of the cases for the first 57 of the 152 men and women that were executed during Dubya’s reign as CEO of Texas. His lack of due diligence and general rubberstamping of verdicts angered death penalty opponents but pleased the “let ‘em hang” attititude Dubya fostered.
8. Keeper of Secrets. When Dubya as Texas Governor was faced with jury duty for a drunk driving case, Gonzo made the novel argument that the governor can’t sit on a jury since he reviews pardon and clemency requests. Both Dubya and Gonzo conveniently forgot or ignored the Governor’s own DUI conviction that would have been revealed had the jury pool questioning continued.
7. Supreme Court Joke. When the nomination of co-crony Harriet Miers was circling the drain, Gonzo was briefly raised as a trial balloon that quickly became a firing range target. His milquetoasty decisions on abortion angered the far right, his loyalty to Bush bothered the left, and his lack of competence inspired nobody.
6. Sick Bed Syncophant. When the Department of Justice refused to sign off on the more problematic measures of the NSA wiretapping program, Gonzo and co-crony Andrew Card were sent in the dead of the night to harangue Attorney General John Ashcroft as he recovered from surgery. Deputy (and acting) AG James Comey headed off this social call and Gonzo has been bending the language since over why he was there and what the issue was.
5. “You’re Fired.” As part of a purge of attorneys that weren’t carrying enough water for the political goals of White House, Gonzo aided and abetted some equally incompetent underlings in replacing nine US Attorneys with more partisan picks. Part of the process was to use obscure provisions of the PATRIOT Act he had drafted as White House counsel to avoid congressional advise and consent powers.
4. No Thanks For The Memories. When facing congressional questioning under oath back in April, Gonzo used the phrase “I don’t recall” 72 times in four hours. Since then, congressional committee members have hoped to aid his memory by giving him the questions in advance but Al just found entirely different phrases to avoid answering questions. Which is good, because anything he does say is usually discredited immediately. His mastery of the parsed denial is positively Clintonian. He even lied about resigning.
3. Habeas Corpus Killed. Among Gonzo’s novel interpretations of the Constitution that he never got to explore as Supreme Court Justice was that the right of “habeas corpus” or the right to be presented with an accusation when arrested wasn’t as iron-clad as the phrase “The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it.” might make it sound.
2. Super PATRIOT. As the Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales oversaw the FBI while it was running roughshod over civil liberties with their hastily written national security letters to obtain evidence without a warrant. The irony of these letters is that not only is the information they get unconstitutional, the subjects of the letters can’t disclose or appeal their receipt. It’s better than Catch-22, it’s positively Orwellian and fully endorsed by Gonzo.
1. The Torture Memo. While the White House Counsel, Torqueberto wrote or approved sloppy memos and briefs that assert that combatants captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the War On Terror are not covered by the Geneva Convention. Apparently he doesn’t believe they are covered by basic human decency either. These memos were used as the lynchpin of the torture policies that emerged in Guantanamo and spread to Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. The scandal and outrage from these acts have done irreparable damage against the US image as a moral authority in the world. And we have a grinning yes-man grabbed from the bottom of the Texas political barrel to thank.
Every Friday for the past few months, I have placed a mental bet that this would finally be the Friday where shame or moral outrage would force the resignation of the worst Attorney General in American history to resign. And this is a crowd that includes John Ashcroft, Janet Reno, and Edwin Meese. Now Torqueberto is gone, but his legacy lives on. Good riddance. If only we could erase the damage done.
LinkPlugging: Andrew Cohen of WaPo's Bench Conference says it much more eloquently than me.
BlatantCommentWhoring™: Will things get better now that Fredo has left The Family or will nothing change?