Monday, August 27, 2007

Wrong arm of the law

Alberto Gonzales has resigned as Attorney General. I will refrain from trying Kremlinology as to the question of who made this decision, or why. Certainly there are plenty of possible scenarios available. The bottom line is that the Attorney General had some time ago lost the confidence of Washington and of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Republicans included in both cases. The spin is that the President didn't want him to go, which may or may not be true. Certainly this president is like his father at least in the sense that he places a very high value on loyalty. He also doesn't like the (small-d democratic) idea that public sentiment can override presidential prerogative, and I think he enjoyed the way Gonzales was getting up the noses of the senators. Like the baseball manager that he was meant by God to be (before other forces intervened), Bush was willing to stick with his guy through a tough patch.
But of course that goes right to the real problem, which is the competence of the President himself. He doesn't really respect lawyers very much. They're like scientists: fancy-pants elitists who say hard-to-understand stuff, so heck with 'em. So it was all to the good, so far as Bush was concerned, that his loyal minion Fredo wasn't particularly distinguished as a lawyer. But this sort of attitude is only sustainable when you don't actually understand the function of the expertise. Bush to the end described Gonzales as "a man of decency and integrity." Right. Also not so bright. For most of the officials in Washington, the spectacle of a clueless Attorney General was just that: a spectacle. That's our President: always the last to know.

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