It’s about time. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales finally resigned Monday. He has been a political distraction for the nation for most of 2007. But that’s not the reason he was a bad attorney general. He was a rotten choice from the beginning, as I wrote in 2004 and reminded again in March.
Gonzales was always weak — never a confident constitutionalist capable of standing up to the hounding he was sure to get as a Hispanic top official in a Republican administration.
Democrats such as Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., hate no one so much as an uppity minority who doesn’t tow his party’s line. It really doesn’t matter to the Harry Reids and Chuckie Schumers of the world how Republican minorities govern. It only matters that they have strayed off the Democratic plantation. That is the unpardonable sin committed by Gonzales.
Gonzales has been hounded by Democrats in the U.S. Congress for firing eight federal prosecutors who worked for him. I said it before and I will say it again: This was a non-offense. All U.S. attorneys are political appointees who serve at the pleasure of the president of the United States. They can be fired for any reason or no reason whatsoever at any time.
Never before in the history of the United States has the sacking of eight federal prosecutors caused so much concern and generated so much publicity. They actually called it the "March Massacre."
The day Bill Clinton became the president in 1993, he fired all 93 U.S. attorneys. No one asked why. No major news stories resulted. No one called it the "January Massacre." No one accused Clinton of shenanigans (except me, because I knew what he really was doing). It was assumed, by nearly everyone — Republicans and Democrats alike and certainly the media — that Clinton merely wanted to name his own political appointees to these positions — his right under the law.
Let me reemphasize that it is the president’s prerogative to get rid of some or all U.S. attorneys any time he wants and for any reason or no reason. He is not obligated to tell them or anyone else why these officials are replaced. That’s the nature of political appointments. Just wait until Hillary sweeps into power in 2009 and watch how many U.S. attorneys she unloads.
So why did the firing of only eight U.S. attorneys by Gonzales, their boss, deep into President Bush’s second term cause such a furor? Why would congressional hearings be held? Why would my colleagues in the media devote so much time, energy, space and ink to this non-story of non-stories? Two reasons:
Democrats have launched the presidential campaign for 2008. They will do everything in their power to attempt to embarrass George Bush, which is easily managed, between now and then. They have politicized the war in Iraq. They have managed to criminalize policy, as in the Scooter Libby case. And now they are concocting a scandal where absolutely none exists.
My colleagues in the establishment media are going along for the ride.
Now, again, I have to point out that Bush administration incompetence is indeed staggering to behold. Only the Bush White House and its Justice Department could manage to look so guilty when they have done nothing wrong. They are pathetic and deserve the fate that befalls them in this make-believe crisis.
Yesterday the curtain finally fell on Gonzales.
So what was really wrong with Gonzales? Why didn’t he deserve the job of attorney general from the beginning? What was my beef with him? He believes the Constitution is a living document and that only the nine black-robed brethren have sufficient understanding of the document to explain to the people what it means. I heard Alberto Gonzales make this statement with my own ears in a private dinner meeting two years ago. I was stunned. I was horrified. But I was even more upset to see Bush pick Gonzales for attorney general.
Asked why the president had signed seemingly unconstitutional legislation over and over again during his first year and a half in office, Gonzales explained in my presence that it is up to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court alone to determine what actions of government are constitutional.
"The Supreme Court tells us what the Constitution says and means," he said. Gonzales let it be known he believes the Supreme Court actually makes law through its precedent-setting rulings. If this were true, of course, the Supreme Court would be the most powerful and least accountable of all three branches of the federal government. Americans don’t need black-robed justices divining the meaning of the Constitution. The Constitution was written by our Founding Fathers as a document that could be understood by ordinary citizens without law degrees from Harvard or Yale — or even in spite of such credentials.
This whole drama is kind of a metaphor for the Bush administration. These guys, starting at the top, have been over their heads from day one. Bush tried so hard to get along with the Democrats. He cared so much about appearances and the way The New York Times, Washington Post and Associated Press covered his actions. He didn’t care about his campaign promises to his base. He didn’t even seem to care whether he lost control of Congress — which he did.
Now, amid this shameless feeding frenzy by Democrats and the media, he is reaping his just desserts for abandoning his own party and principles — if he ever had any.