Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Monday, August 27, 2007

An Ambivalent Goodbye to Gonzales

For Democrats, the long-awaited resignation of Alberto Gonzales may turn out to be one of those answered prayers that cause more tears than the unanswered.

With the departure of the A.G. and Karl Rove, the Senate Judiciary Committee will keep trying to get to the bottom of the Justice Department firings, but inevitably a plug has been pulled draining some of the urgency that Pat Leahy, Chuck Schumer et al can bring to their quest. As they persist, charges of vindictiveness and evading serious Senate business will gain ground.

In the words of a wise old pol, the punching bag has been taken out of the gym.

Perhaps even worse is the dilemma of confirming Gonzales’ successor, who will certainly not be a lover of civil liberties. But the hazards are similar to those that frustrated Democrats in the case of Bush’s Supreme Court appointments. Reject a plausible candidate and seem obstructionist, confirm one and the Justice Department is free again to carry on, albeit more discreetly, than it did before the Gonzales cloud.

Good as it is to say goodbye to Gonzales, there can be no cause for rejoicing until Bush and Cheney pack their bags to join him a year and a half from now.

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