The ongoing pledges of support for Gonzales from the White House are mind-boggling in their lack of political sensibility, lending some credence to the idea that Bush might just be losing it. Any sane person would have to look at this situation and see Alberto Gonzales as an anchor. That includes Republicans:
"We have to have an attorney general who is candid, truthful. And if we find out he has not been candid and truthful, that's a very compelling reason for him not to stay on," said Specter, R-Pa....
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Gonzales has been "wounded" by the firings. "He has said some things that just don't add up," said Graham, who also is on the Senate Judiciary panel. And Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., said the Justice Department has continually changed its story about the dismissals.
"You cannot have the nation's chief law enforcement officer with a cloud hanging over his credibility," Hagel said.
The White House certainly isn't going bow to pressure from the likes of these three, but given any rational observer can see how damaging this situation is, and that it's only getting worse, what could be going on in their heads? Only two possibilities come to mind, and I suspect only one is really the answer. First, Bush truly is so stubborn, so willful, and so stupid as to not see the danger that Gonzales poses to the already damaged presidency, and he isn't going to let his Fredo go. But what is much more likely, Karl Rove needs the distraction, the deflection that Gonzales provides. As long as he's catching much of the heat, the White House stays out of the focus.
But that game is unlikely to work for long. That Gonzales didn't cook up this whole scheme on his own is clear to everyone. As Froomkin writes:
It's no secret in Washington that Gonzales is not an autonomous player. His entire career has been as an enabler of George Bush. He does what he's told.... It's not as obvious who has been his minder since he became attorney general two years ago. But presumably either he or, more to the point, the staffers who write his speeches and draw up his talking points still get their marching orders directly from the West Wing.
And now, with his central talking point exposed as clumsy dishonesty, it's clear that whoever prepped Gonzales and sent him out to face the media was more focused on White House interests than on telling the truth.
Josh reinforces that:
This isn't a case where Alberto Gonzales has fallen short of the president's standards or bungled some process. This is the standard. The Attorney General has done and is doing precisely what is expected of him.... None of this is about Alberto Gonzales. This is about the president and the White House, which is where this entire plan was hatched. Gonzales was just following orders, executing the president's plans. This is about this president and this White House, which ... let's be honest, everyone on both sides of the aisle already knows.
Gonzales's refusal to resign and Bush's refusal to force it are part and parcel of the effort to protect Rove, Miers, and ultimately Bush. Which is precisely why Alberto Gonzales must be impeached. It reflects why Gonzales is not and never was fit to serve as Attorney General of the United States. He has never been and never will be anything other than Bush's lackey, even as it means the complete and total destruction of his professional life.
That he is willing to put protecting Bush ahead of protecting himself isn't the issue. That he is willing to put protecting Bush ahead of his duties as the chief law enforcement officer in the nation, ahead of the Constitution, ahead of the rule of law makes him unfit to serve.
(Via Daily Kos.)