Today's Chance of a Gonzales Departure: 82.5435 percent
(Previously: 80 percent)
Folks tend to describe the erosion of support for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales with the phrase "drip, drip, drip." That's wrong. It's increasingly more like "flush, flush, flush."
It's hard to count how many former Gonzales supporters are fleeing, since he doesn't seem to have had all that many in the first place. But the few remaining fans are getting wobblier. We've bumped the Gonzo-Meter up to 82.5435.
So, who's peeling off today? The editors at the National Review Online. In an editorial titled " Time to Go," they politely suggest that even though "the story of the eight fired U.S. attorneys has been relentlessly overhyped," Gonzales must resign. They helped him fend off prior attacks, they point out, but fear they "have never seen evidence that he has a fine legal mind, good judgment, or managerial ability." And whether inadvertent or extremely clever, their conclusion—"The Justice Department needs a fresh start"—echoes the language of the Rove/Miers/Sampson e-mails about the need for new blood and fresh starts in the U.S. attorneys' offices.
It's hard to see how Kyle Sampson is going to avoid joining the Gonzales deserters when he testifies before the Senate judiciary committee tomorrow. On the one hand, everyone agrees that he is fiercely loyal to his former boss, Gonzales. On the other hand, Gonzales has been pointing the finger squarely at him as the culprit. How can Sampson possibly reconcile Gonzales' claims that he "was not involved in seeing any memos, was not involved in any discussions about what was going on," with his own statement that "The fact that the White House and Justice Department had been discussing this subject for several years was well-known"?
Meanwhile, the folks at TPM Muckraker want to know how Sampson will reconcile his claim that Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty somehow missed the whole U.S. attorneys issue "because no one focused on it or deemed it important at the time," with McNulty's complaint ( via Chuck Schumer) that "I was not told that these things were happening by the people who were supposed to brief me."
Yet more bad news for Gonzales: U.S. News reports that several White House aides "stopped using the White House" e-mail system when they found out their e-mails could be subpoenaed. Some of those aides sent e-mail from the Republican National Committee—and among those missives are some of the most incriminating e-mails that have been released. Since the RNC is a political organization, this all makes the firings seem more, rather than less, political. What! Gambling in Casablanca? And today's news adds fuel to the notion that everyone in the White House is scrambling to hide everything.
So, it looks like Bob Novak was right when he said that Gonzales stands alone. Oh wait, maybe Bush is still standing behind him—but that doesn't help him all that much, because it seems the president stands alone, too. So there you have it. Two lonely guys and a flushing sound.
Looking forward to tomorrow's Gonzo-Meter, the all-Kyle Sampson edition.