Republican angst grows.

Down and on the way out.
April 25 2007 3:50 PM

Gonzo-Meter

Republican angst grows.

The Gonzo-Meter

Today's chance of a Gonzales departure: 76 percent

(Yesterday: 75 percent)

One of us had a bag lost by US Airways recently, and the experience prompted a sudden and deep fellow feeling for the members of Congress who have tried to get to the bottom of the U.S. attorney firings: Throughout the lost-bag episode, there was zero accountability, insincere apologies, shifting stories, and mysterious technological glitches. There was also overwhelming existential doubt that anyone could even do a darn thing to improve the situation. Threats, inducements, praise, and sarcasm were as ineffective in locating that bag as they were in getting a straight story last week out of the attorney general.

Gonzales' disappointing performance before the Senate judiciary committee continues to reverberate among Republicans. Though the president claims his confidence in Gonzales "increased," others in his party—notably others who actually watched the testimony—have had the opposite reaction.  Republican angst grows. "I think there's a huge credibility issue at the Justice Department," Norm Coleman, R-Minn., said today in the Washington Post. "I continue, even after his testimony, to have grave doubts."

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Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., no fire-breather, said:  "I think the attorney general is on a tightrope, and he and the president need to make a decision before very long." And Jim Bunning, R-Ky., a loyal Bush supporter told the Associated Press Gonzales' testimony had been weak and wondered "how long Alberto Gonzales can survive as attorney general. "

Meanwhile, there's other bad news for the AG. He met today with Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, who has accused Gonzales of lying to him about the replacement of former U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins in Pryor's home state. The House judiciary committee has granted immunity to former Justice Department White House liaison Monica Goodling, which might mean more explosive testimony that either contradicts Gonzales or undermines him. Of course, it is also possible she could mount a stirring defense in a way no one, including Gonzales, has yet to accomplish. But then, the House has also authorized a subpoena for former Karl Rove aide Sara Taylor.

We realize that so far, GOP opposition has not yet caused Gonzales to step down and that, if anything, it only seems to make the president more supportive. Nevertheless we're going to continue to embrace the realities of a world in which gravity operates, flowers bloom in the springtime, and the sky is blue and not green. So, we inch the meter up one point. We know he's going. We're just not certain he and the president know it yet.

Emily Bazelon is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine and the author of Sticks and Stones

John Dickerson is Slate's chief political correspondent and author of On Her Trail. Read his series on the presidency and on risk.

Dahlia Lithwick writes about the courts and the law for Slate

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