The US attorneys scandal and Alberto Gonzales were more than a side skirmish in larger political calculations, and his resignation is welcome and will lead to the end of the attorney general’s bizarre version of the “American dream,” but will probably not lead to restoration of American liberties.
This scandal was not about broad issues of separation of powers so much as defending senatorial privilege in a loosely defined system. Senators are territorial types–and they didn’t like the open defiance and lying that Alberto Gonzales displayed at their hearings. Besides that, his boss George W. Bush had sought to take away the great privilege Senators enjoy in their home states–the ability to consult on choice of U.S. attorneys–by using a new provision in a tyrannical law.
Why a majority of senators voted in favor of stripping themselves of this particular power in the “Patriot Act” reauthorization bill is a mystery only known inside the Hart Senate Office Building, if there.
But that’s all this was about. Now, for the most part, the power struggle is over and the various political parties and branches of governments can get back to colluding to deny ordinary Americans their civil liberties.
Congress just passed another absurd concession to the president in the recent “temporary” wiretapping bill. This appears a better indicator of where things are going politically–at least until the next election or for a while anyway.
No charges appear to have yet been filed for the lies Gonzales told, no impeachment proceedings have been called in the House. Just because he resigned doesn’t mean that he didn’t commit perjury. And liberals may hope for improvement in the DoJ now, but knowing the Bushies it will be another corrupt bastard so what does it matter anyway.
And what about Karl Rove and Harriet Myers? Will Congress let Bush get away with not having them testify?
Bush is extremely unpopular; he has claimed powers he simply does not have (to invalidate laws, to indefinitely imprison citizens without charge, to wiretap without a warrant, and so forth); and his administration has done a laughably bad job of leading the country.
Now is the time to open up a full-on political assault on the worst administration in the country’s history, for the purposes of avoiding more harmful mistakes like an Iran invasion and punishing the lawless and stupid president to set a precedent.
But that’s not likely to come from the Democrats, some of whom (like Hillary Clinton) are ready to collude with the Republican/media establishment once in power.