Thursday, January 01, 2009

Why Did Conservatives Abandon Gonzales? Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal ran an interview with former Attorney General Alberto (just "Al" to George Bush) Gonzales. A lot of it is "whoa is me" self-pity on the part of Gonzales--especially this:

"What is it that I did that is so fundamentally wrong, that deserves this kind of response to my service?" he said during an interview Tuesday, offering his most extensive comments since leaving government . . . [F]or some reason, I am portrayed as the one who is evil in formulating policies that people disagree with. I consider myself a casualty, one of the many casualties of the war on terror."

Why was Al Gonzales complaining like this to the Wall Street Journal? If Gonzales had conducted the interview with Glenn Greenwald, Huffington Post, or Talking Points Memo, he would have received definite answers on these points. If he asked any of these media outlets why he "deserves this kind of response to my service," Gonzales would have heard at the very least that he was culpable for crimes against humanity for his role in approving the John Yoo torture memo and participation in the principles meetings that approved specific torture techniques. Gonzales would also have heard about how he committed felonies for his role in promoting warrantless wiretapping and the perjury in his Congressional testimony. I imagine someone would have mentioned his role in politicizing the Justice Department as well.

What would have been even more humiliating to Gonzales is the fact that the left blogosphere does not even rate him that high on the hierarchy of Bush administration "evil." Gonzales may have been White House counsel and Attorney General but he wasn't seen as a major player in the Bush administration's assault on the rule of law. Dick Cheney, David Addington, and John Yoo driving the train--not Gonzales. The left may view Gonzales as a war criminal, but it also views Gonzales strictly as a secondary player.

But it's not the left that's blackballing Gonzales--it's the conservative establishment. As tainted as the Bush administration is by failure and criminality, most Bush figures have found sinecures at conservative institutions. Bush himself is creating a conservative institution in the form of his presidential library while Rove is a Fox, Time, and Wall Street Journal commentator. Dick Cheney can pretty much write his own ticket with the American Enterprise Institute, Fox, or talk radio. He could also make a mint as a paid speaker for conservative audiences. Condoleeza Rice is going to be at the Hoover Institute. Even some of the more reviled secondary players like John Bolton and Doug Feith landed on their feet with think tank and academic gigs. Somewhat unbelievably, they're still sought out by the media as conservative spokesmen.

But Al Gonzales?

Nothing. Not even a book contract from Regnery.

The problem for Gonzales is that he got scapegoated as an incompetent by the conservative establishment. The Bush administration was teeming with cronies and incompetents, but Al Gonzales ended up as the representative figure for Bush incompetence to conservatives as well as liberals. Figures like Dick Cheney and Condoleeza Rice did a lot more harm than Gonzales, but Gonzales was the one that the right ended up throwing under the bus.

Sorry Al.

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