How to measure the attorney general's yuck factor?
Posted Wednesday, May 16, 2007, at 4:02 PM
Today's chance of a Gonzales departure: 50 percent
(Previously: 55 percent)
Here at the Gonzo-meter, we find ourselves longing for the days when we monitored the attorney general only for his special secret blend of craven incompetence. We find ourselves playing the game at a new level today, totting up instances of vile personal conduct. Gonzales is now the kind of guy who would harass a sick John Ashcroft in the intensive care unit. And the kind of guy who suddenly remembers, less than 24 hours after Paul McNulty resigned, that absolutely every misfiring at the Justice Department during his own tenure was in fact McNulty's fault.
We lower the meter to 50 percent, reluctantly, because we think that although Gonzales is proving to be Christmas in May for the Democrats, that which might come after Gonzales (special prosecutors, brutal confirmation hearings) looks even worse to the Bush administration. No matter how many Republicans call for Gonzales to step down (welcome, Chuck Hagel!), no matter how few people are left standing at DoJ, and no matter the seven-point jump at Intrade today, it looks like Gonzales is not budging.
We noted last week that Gonzales' silly new rhetorical trick is to suggest that the Justice Department runs itself. It's built, he insists, to withstand all of these resignations and departures. The subtext here: National law enforcement is so trivial that even if my deputy, his deputy, and the deputy's liaison all quit, it hardly makes a difference. Wow. We beg to differ: If nothing else, the dramatic drop in DOJ personnel may explain why document production has become such a hardship.
We continue to eagerly await the Senate testimony of Monica Goodling. We recognize, however, that if Gonzales survives this week's gruesome front-page headlines, he will survive whatever Goodling can dish out. Unless, of course, she arrives with evidence that her former boss loves to rip the heads off small woodland creatures. Even so, it's tough to know what more damage she can do.
Emily Bazelon is a Slate senior editor and writes about law, family, and kids. Her forthcoming book, Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Empathy and Character. Find her at email@example.com or on Facebook or Twitter.
John Dickerson is Slate's chief political correspondent and author of On Her Trail. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his series on the presidency and his series on risk. Follow him on Twitter.
Dahlia Lithwick writes about the courts and the law for Slate.