alberto v08

3/21/07

One of the most deeply satisfying things to come of the last year has been the constant horrorshow of the Republican party; as a progressive American, the only antidote for the years 2000 through 2005 has been watching the G.O.P. wheels fly off their body politic.

I don’t know how many of you have been following the Alberto Gonzales scandal, but Republicans are hoping it’s slightly too complicated for you to have an opinion one way or another. It’s really quite simple: Bush, Cheney, Rove and Attorney General Gonzales fired eight U.S. Attorneys for not being loyal to the neo-conservative playbook and/or not going after Democrats enough. At least six of them had previous glowing reports from the Justice Department, and it’s a clear “duh” to everybody (except die-hard Republicans, of course) that the firings were politically motivated.

At worst, it’s illegal, and at best, it’s stunningly unethical. The female statue of Justice always holds a set of of scales and has a blindfold covering her eyes, but the Bush Administration’s version has the blindfold covering her nipples, and her eyes wide open with rage at Democrats. When we no longer have impartial judges and are left with a bunch of conservative ideologues, we have… well, the Supreme Court.

But all of this is beside the point. Here’s what fascinates me: in this era of advanced focus group testing, spin control and “conventional wisdom” experts, why are the Republicans doing every wrong thing in the book? Imagine George W. Bush calling a press conference tomorrow and saying “You know what? We screwed up. I apologize for Alberto Gonzales’ behavior. I’m firing him, I’m firing everybody involved, and we’re starting over.” His popularity would shoot from 29% to about 53% in one day.

Look at the cavalcade of shit heaped upon Dook and Koach K in the aftermath of Gerald Henderson’s intentional foul on Tyler Hansbrough. If K and G had simply marched over to the UNC locker room after the game and said “We’re sorry. It may not have been intentional, but it was obviously painful and scary, and we apologize” then K might have emerged as the leader he claims he is.

Instead, it was a week of “well, Tyler shouldn’t have been in the game” and “Duke University isn’t that kind of school” and “The person I feel most bad for is Gerald” and wham! Cue every pundit on ESPN, all the major newspapers, and all sports radio announcers calling Koach K an asshole. And somewhere, there is a 12-year-old future hoops phenom who suddenly decided he wanted to go to Carolina instead.

Why? Why are these institutions being so stupid? All you have to do is swallow your pride for about forty-five seconds, and you’re rewarded with weeks – years – of good will. Hell, it happens in marriages too. Just choose a different path, the one where you say “Yeah, I kinda screwed up,” and avoid hours of recrimination and defensive posturing.

As for BushCo., I’m happy they’re being such fools. GWB’s complete inability to show nuance and admit mistakes was bound to emasculate his Presidency sooner or later; I just wish it had been sooner. I’m not asking for much, just the perfect leader: someone who is binary in some instances (national security) and nuanced in basically everything else. Calling our President a cowboy is an insult to real cowboys. It takes a real man to say he’s sorry.

0 thoughts on “alberto v08

  1. Neva

    I’m in the middle of a situation at work with an arrogant, stubborn male who doesn’t apologize even when obviously wrong. You are so right that just being humble and admitting wrongdoing can go so far yet so many people struggle with it. The sad part is I often feel like I end up apologizing in most situations even when I’m not the one at fault just to end a nasty situation. I think this happens to a lot of women (and democrats?) because we don’t like conflict. Unfortunately there is some cultural reward for the “strong” male who “stands up” for himself and I think many people see apologizing as lowering themselves and can’t go there.

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  2. The other Lee

    a real cowboy would say of Bush II that he is “All hat and no cattle.” And I know it is getting bad when I’m seeing parody bumper stickers here in Texas saying “F the president”

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  3. Chris M

    U.S. Attorneys are political appointees and always have been. The error made by Gonzalez & Co. was pretending otherwise. The firings were about removing those appointees who were not pursuing administration priorities. So what. If Democrats win the next election, surely they’ll do the same thing.
    The politicians pretending this is some sort of potential scandal rather than a partisan political dispute are fibbing. Good way to shut down an administration in the second term and do some fund raising.
    Immediately after being sworn into office in 1993, Bill Clinton fired each and every one of the 93 U.S. Attorneys. Most or all had been appointed by the two previous Republican Presidents. Unlike the current situation, some of these U.S. Attorneys were actively investigating allegations of criminal conduct by Mr. and Mrs. Clinton and other administration officials. Bill replaced the fired U.S. Attorneys with people loyal to him & Hillary. One of the Clinton administration’s priorities was avoiding criminal charges against Hillary and some of her Arkansas law firm cronies. It largely worked but remember Webster Hubbell, the Clinton’s legal counsel and Hillary law firm partner who pleaded guilty and did time in prison?

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  4. kent

    Chris M, why oh why do you have to go spouting Republican talking points, without even bothering to inject anything personal into them? And why bring up Whitewater after millions of dollars and years of investigations never turned up anything actionable?
    You have a president responsible for starting a war of choice under false pretenses and then bungling the execution of it, and allowing the resurgence in Afghanistan of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. George Bush is directly responsible for the unnecessary deaths of tens of thousands.
    Matthew 7:3 “why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”
    And I kind of agree that this thing is blown up way too large. The fact is that the Bush administration did something unusual, undoubtedly partisan, but ultimately legal. They’re shitheads, but there are more pressing problems to address, LIKE IRAQ.

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  5. D

    I think describing this as “ultimately legal” might be a bit premature. Let’s wait until we have all the facts, especially those relating to Carol Lam’s ongoing Duke Cunningham/CIA corruption investigation, which DOJ appears to have been trying to head off, before we reach that conclusion.
    Iraq is a pressing issue. Preserving the integrity of our criminal justice system is also a pressing issue. It’s not an either/or choice.
    To claim that it is the President’s prerogative to dismiss US attorneys for their failure to make prosecutorial decisions based solely on political considerations, while advancing the claim that those dismissals were based on poor performance, is to misunderstand the function of federal prosecutors, as well as the whole concept of the rule of law.

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  6. Jane

    And after he says he’s sorry for the US attorneys screw-up, he can say he’s sorry for the debacle of Katrina; and then for Rumsfeld; and then for Cheney; and then for the what, 4,000? (like all numbers out of this admin it is questionable) injured, not to mention killed outright, US men and women in the Iraq horror; and then for the uncounted Iraqi men and women killed and maimed, and then for the Walter Reed nightmare … this man is so past apologies — it’s time for a jail sentence

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  7. bridget Regan

    here’s what i’ve been able to glean about the legality of this issue:
    – it’s legal and common for a president to, when he takes office, replace all 93 US Attorneys with those of his own choosing. They all do “serve at the pleasure of the president.”
    – the US attorneys are political appointees who once appointed are not supposed to pursue cases for ideological and political reasons. They are to follow the objective rule of law.
    – these firings were interim appointments which is unusual and came about because of language placed in the USA Patriot Act which allows the President to make interim appointments without the approval of Congress. This was intended (surely….) in the event that a US Attorney was killed in terrorist acts….
    – the shitstorm came about because people looked into these unusual and highly suspicious firings and found that for the most part these US Attorneys had high performance grades but were removed because they weren’t PLAYING BALL as ‘loyal bushies…’
    – Can you freaking imagine the system if US Attorneys were going around indicting and prosecuting cases against their political opponents? This is what the Bush Administration would have our justice department do.
    – Don’t tell me that this is NOT a political scandal. It’s par for the course. It’s just within the lines enough that political partisans and this administration can claim it’s not political when in point of fact it’s a shameful, cynical power grab that reeks.
    – at least that’s what i’m getting out of it….
    Bridget

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  8. michelle

    Ian, both the title of this blog and the image of Justice with her nipples covered were totally forking brilliant.
    That’s my two cents. My brother is awesome.

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  9. Piglet

    Frankly, I’m not so concerned about the eight US attorneys who were fired because they did their work with integrity.
    I’m concerned about the 85 who were kept, evidently because they met the Administration’s standards for putting partisanship and loyalty to Republicans above justice, honor and loyalty to America.
    You realize that any investigation they are conducting, no matter how well founded, is now suspect, and any person under investigation can plausibly claim to be the victim of a Republican witch hunt.
    The Bush League did more than destroy a few careers. They destroyed the institution fo the DoJ. For as long as they continue to occupy the White House, at least.

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  10. eric g.

    It is true that U.S. Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President. It is more common than not for them all to be let go as one administration turns over the reins to the next. I agree with everyone who says that this particular round of dismissals was done in a chickenshit manner. And whom exactly does that surprise at this point? I also agree with Kent. A fired U.S. Attorney can walk into 90% of the law firms in America and get a much higher paying job. A dead soldier does not have that luxury. Bring them the fuck home!!!

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  11. T.J.

    “When we no longer have impartial judges and are left with a bunch of conservative ideologues, we have… well, the Supreme Court.”
    I don’t like Republicans OR Democrats. The Supreme Court is currently made up of the Left, who value Federal authority over States’ Rights, and the Right, who value States’ Rights over the Federal government. Neither side gives much of a darn about individual rights.
    The horrible Kelo v. New London decision, which allowed eminent domain for purely economic development purposes, was written by the “Super-lefty” Stevens, joined by the rest of the Left: Ginsburg, Souter and Breyer (centrist Kennedy gave them their five votes). Right-leaning O’Connor and “conservative ideologue” Thomas wrote blistering dissents.
    Crawford v. Washington and Blakely v. Washington, watershed opinions restoring criminal defendants’ rights to cross-examine witnesses against them and have juries determine their guilt or innocence, were both written by “conservative ideologue” Scalia.
    On the other hand, it would be incredibly easy to find a pile of Scalia/Thomas/Rehnquist decisions that spat on individual rights. We need judges who care about the Bill of Rights over both the federal government and the States. If you think the Left will do that, you are sadly mistaken.

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