Rich Lowry rejects the argument that Alberto Gonzales should stay in order to prevent a “blood in the water” phenomenon. He notes that this argument was raised in favor of retaining Donald Rumsfeld and may have delayed a salutary change at DoD.
But Rumsfeld was replaced because President Bush wanted to change policy in Iraq, not in response to a ginned-up “scandal.” Gonzales’ ouster would be a reaction to the alleged scandal, and would have nothing to do with policy.
That’s not to say that the “blood in the water” argument should weigh significantly against Gonzales’ ouster. Gonzales should go if he’s committed real misconduct (such as lying or obstrucing justice), if having a new A.G. will help the president politically, or if (like Rumsfeld) he has lost President Bush’s confidence. I see no evidence of misconduct by Gonzales or of any appreciable political advantage in his discharge. I don’t have great confidence in Gonzales (and never have), but that’s Bush’s call.
UPDATE by JOHN: Reuters has obtained a copy of the testimony that Gonzales’ former chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, has prepared for Congress. (I’m not sure when he is scheduled to testify.) As the one person who has been fired as a result of the faux “scandal” involving the U.S. Attorneys, the Democrats had hoped that Sampson might sell out his former boss. No such luck, apparently:
The firings of eight federal prosecutors “were properly made, but poorly explained,” U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ former chief of staff said in testimony prepared for delivery to Congress.
“The distinction between ‘political’ and ‘performance-related’ reasons for removing a U.S. attorney is, in my view, largely artificial,” Sampson said.
He said the decisions to fire eight of the 93 U.S. attorneys were made after lengthy consideration that began after President George W. Bush was reelected in November 2004.
Sampson said he considered each of those ousted a “wonderful lawyer,” but noted they all served at the pleasure of the president and that to his knowledge none were ousted for “an improper reason.”
I think it’s fair to say that every U.S. Attorney in modern history, if not all of U.S. history, has been hired at least in part for political reasons. Likewise when they have been fired, unless somewhere along the line one has been found to be corrupt.
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