Thursday, April 26, 2007

Aloof Gonzales Stiffs Congress

But he's just the nicest man.

In a confusing performance before the Senate last week, Attorney General Alfredo Gonzales told his inquisitors "I don't remember" a total of 71 times. 71 times.

For this he gained the praise of the White House.

To the world, he looked like either a liar or a fool. The most revealing analysis suggests that to his boss, Gonzales' success lies in that he showed Congress a padded stone wall. This is an appropriate posture for a member of a Unitary Executive for which Congress is merely an advisor and the Courts a prover of concept. An iron fist in a velvet glove, as it were. In this sense, Gonzales succeeded in fulfilling Bush's concept of his Presidency.

Of course, a concept of the Executive branch that requires its Secretaries to lie or to look stupid before Congress may have a kink or two still to be worked out.

Congress has since asked Gonzales to respond in writing to those 71 questions. Surely, there will be follow-up questions to come. In an apparent attempt at diversion, Gonzales has since taunted Congress by producing a list of subpoenaed documents that he says he will not give them.

Gonzales can be impeached. He serves at the pleasure of Congress as well as of the President.

The Senate has just immunized from prosecution Monica Goodling, the liason from Gonzales' office to the White House. When invited to explain under oath to Congress just what planning was involved in the mysterious firings of the eight US Attorneys, Ms. Goodling invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, hoping to skip the whole process. This right has been until now invoked only in response to a specific question. Apparently she felt that any question they could ask her would be self-incriminating. Now she can talk.

White House chief advisor Karl Rove appears to have committed massive violation of the Hatch act by using government resources and personnel to support Republican candidates for election. This drama is just beginning to unfold. He also apparently tried to recruit the U.S. Attorneys General into attacking Democrats for voter fraud just before elections to make them look corrupt. Eastern Wisconsin USAG Steven Biskupic just had such a case thrown out by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a judge calling his evidence "beyond thin" and "preposterous". Biskupic had been slated for removal, but apparently filing this case just before the election made him worthy enough to keep on the job.

The firing of the eight USA's now seems to be part of a larger plan to intimidate the lot of them into attacking Democrats and going easy on Republicans. This has come undone. Indictments of corrupt Republicans that have been on hold are moving forward. Other Republicans are washing their hands after covering their tails. Among Democrats, the larger plan seems to have filtered out the venal and produced a generation of incorruptibles.

General Petraeus, who is now running the ground war in Iraq, tells us that the clocks in Washington are ticking at one speed and the clocks in Bagdhad tick more slowly. Yes, sometimes they even seem to stop and move backwards. He didn't address the issue of Iraqi soldiers having goals that are not our own, nor that after four years the Iraqi government would still fall without our presence.

Petraus says that the military is essential, yet not enough. A political solution is needed. The trap he is in is that no political help is given.

Mr. Bush believes that the only place for American involvement with other countries is when they have come around to our way of thinking. He thinks that negotiation involves compromises, compromise involves loss, and loss is unacceptable. He ignores the fact that negotiation also discovers common ground and common goals and leads to mutual support. He is not a common ground type of person.

So we are trapped in Iraq, aloofly unwilling to get involved with its neighbors who have a stake in its future. Our president, frankly, doesn't talk too clearly. He also avoids situations in which mental dexterity may be required, preferring catch-phrases. He gives German chancellor-ladies surprise neck-rubs and jeers at blind reporters. People who have Asperger Syndrome are like that.

If you're aloof, you can think you are imperial. Any kid will tell you.


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