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Poor, poor, Gonzales

Republicans, many of whom seem too dense to comprehend the damage he’s inflicting on the Justice Department, express sympathy for the attorney general’s ordeal.

Alberto GonzalesBy Joe Conason / Salon.com

May 11, 2007 | If the House Judiciary Committee session Thursday starring Alberto Gonzales produced few revelations about the suspicious dismissal of eight (or nine or more) U.S. attorneys, the hearing did clarify a critical political reality. No matter how discredited he is — and no matter how much damage he continues to inflict on the Justice Department — this attorney general will not resign.

What the six-hour hearing established most clearly is that most Republicans remain united behind Gonzales despite the clear evidence of his incompetence, dishonesty and contempt for Congress as an institution. Unlike their counterparts in the Senate, none of the Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee even posed a sharp question to him, let alone urged his resignation. Instead they acted in partisan lockstep, expressing sympathy for the poor attorney general’s ordeal, pretending that there is no scandal and no stonewall, and insisting that the investigation should end.

The Senate Republicans who upbraided Gonzales last month, such as Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., certainly have their faults. Specter is slippery and loquacious; Coburn is extreme and slightly nutty. But they and their colleagues cut an Athenian profile compared with the hacks in the House, who cannot seem to comprehend why a politicized law enforcement system is a danger to them as well as their enemies. Read More