Today's chance of a Gonzales departure: 75 percent
(Yesterday: 85 percent)
So, here's what's going on: Al says he's staying. The president says Al is staying. They love each other, and no amount of GOP pressure to break them up is going to come between them. In fact, like Romeo and Juliet, it seems that the more they are pushed to break up, the stronger their love flourishes.
It's beautiful, really. Dysfunctional but beautiful.
Nobody (other than the president) seems to doubt that Gonzales totally blew it last week. And nobody seems to doubt that Bush is clinging to his AG out of some combination of personal loyalty, fear of looking weak, and fear of the confirmation hearings and investigations that would follow if he were to back down.
At the same time, the momentum to get rid of the AG is building, not lessening—probably something of a surprise to a White House that may have believed that this story would die with Gonzales' testimony, pretty much no matter what.
And sometimes, as more than one reporter has observed of late, the president's vote of confidence is a big old kiss of death. Add also that the Justice Department seems to be hemorrhaging attorneys at rather an alarming rate. And that other U.S. attorneys are newly afraid to do their jobs.
While it's nice that Bush and Gonzales are in love, it's hard to believe that they aren't going to start seeing other people at some point. The damage Gonzales has wrought—to this administration, the Justice Department, and the GOP—has been considerable. So this looks to us like a game of appearances now. The president just needs to wait long enough to create the appearance that it was his decision to fire Al, not ours.
That may be a matter of weeks or of months. The question is, who will blink first, the president or the Gonzo-meter? (We still say he will.)