Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, famed close friend and long-time protector of the Prez, has finally given up the ghost and packed it in. It's certainly been a long time coming. Not surprisingly, although pretty much everyone across the spectrum is not unhappy to see the attorney general go, the Prez remains steadfast, insisting that his pal was "a talented and honorable person" whose "good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons." Yeah, right.
We're not as well versed in our attorney general history as we are in presidential history, but it seems like Gonzales must be a prime candidate for worst U.S. attorney general in history. Given his history of loyalty to the Prez, it's hardly a surprise that he'd be more interested in functioning as Bush's personal lawyer than as the chief law enforcement officer of the nation. It also explains why he's held on to the job for as long as he has. But that just makes it more unclear of why Gonzales should resign now. Although he'll likely be the subject of more hearings and investigations when Congress comes back into session even after he's gone, for the moment, there have been no further implications or focus on him since the last set of hearings before the summer recess. At The Washington Post's campaign blog, Dan Balz wrote, "After he seemingly could do no more damage to the administration, President Bush's friend and confidant finally called it quits." I'm betting that he still had some more damage in him.
It's the last week of summer, so there's not a lot of attention being paid, but there'd be even less on Friday afternoon. I think we should all watch out for what comes next. After all, it's a long-time credo of the Bush administration that you launch your new products after Labor Day. With Gonzales out of the way, the path is clear for the third attorney general and Phase 3 of whatever they've got in store for the Justice Department. There have been rumors that Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff would take his place (google it--trust me, there are plenty of examples), but a CNN report quotes a congressional source who claims "senior administration officials are 'playing you guys,' referring to the media." The media likes to be played, certainly, and we can only hope that Chertoff stays at Homeland Security (not that he'll do any less damage there). One thing we can keep in mind, though, is that Gonzales's resignation does nothing to protect him against subpoenas or indictments. We haven't seen the last of Gonzales.