Alberto Gonzales is bloodied, but not beaten, by his trip to the Senate.

The law, lawyers, and the court.
April 19 2007 8:09 PM

Al, the President's Man

Alberto Gonzales is bloodied by his trip to the Senate.

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Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., calls this "the most astounding thing" he's seen in 32 years.

At bottom, the worst ickiness is that while Gonzales thinks he should retain his position despite all he has to apologize for (after all, he has learned from his mistakes), he's more than willing to point to the single mistake made by his subordinates that doomed their careers, one by one. (Daniel Bogden = low "energy." Paul Charlton = "poor judgment." Kevin Ryan = "bad manager." John McKay = bad "information sharing." Carol Lam = Carol Lame.) He is willing to detail everything Paul McNulty should have done differently and everything Kyle Sampson did wrong. Time and again Gonzales wants to claim the benefit of the doubt for all the "great things" he's achieved as attorney general, but he's the only one who gets it. Second chances only run one way at Justice.

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Which leaves Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., to ask why the attorney general should not be "judged by the same standards you've used to judge the U.S. attorneys." The senator calls Gonzales' handling of the situation "incompetent" and "atrocious" and says that it's generous to call his false claims "misstatements.'" Coburn suggests that "the best way to put this behind us is for you to resign." Did I mention that he is a rock-solid Republican?

At the end of the day, what has doomed Alberto Gonzales will keep him hanging on long after it's clear he should go. He serves at the pleasure of the president, and the president's pleasure is his only concern. It's hard to imagine things getting worse for this attorney general. Yet somehow, and until the president shows him the door, he doesn't see the situation as all that bad.

Whitehouse chart.
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