Monica Goodling brings the Gonzo-Meter grief.

Down and on the way out.
May 24 2007 3:30 PM

Gonzo-Meter

Goodling brings only grief.

Today's chance of a Gonzales departure: 40 percent
(Previously: 57 percent)

The Gonzo-Meter

Whatever Monica Goodling's House judiciary committee testimony may have obscured or confused yesterday, she did clarify a few very important points regarding her former boss, Al Gonzales: He was, for instance, present at meetings and briefings about the U.S. attorney purge (i.e., he lied), he was involved in vetting the names on Kyle Sampson's list (i.e., he lied), and—bombshell—he did apparently attempt to square his recollection of the firings with hers, long after this scandal had broken (i.e., he lied again).

So, whatever else he may be—incompetent, clueless, in love with the president, suffering from crippling levels of memory impairment—the AG is pretty clearly now revealed to be a big, honkin' liar.

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The old Gonzo-Meter might have responded to these revelations, and the resultant cries that Gonzales resign, and the president's ridiculous assurance that the probe should stop so he can take care of the problems himself, with a sharp upward spike. But, as we can now agree, the more we find out about what's gone wrong at the Justice Department, the more likely it seems that Gonzales will stay. The question isn't what we have already found out. It's how much more the Bush administration fears what we will find in the future.

So, we are dropping the meter to 40 today, with a sigh—but a bit of an admiring one. If we didn't live in Bizarro World, the front-page headlines blaring yet again that the attorney general lied would mean he was out. In Bush World, however, that calculus is reversed. Like a mountain goat on a heap of broken cans and old tires, Gonzales' footing looks, somehow, more sure than ever.

Emily Bazelon is a Slate senior editor and the Truman Capote Fellow at Yale Law School. She is 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. Follow her on Twitter.