Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Gonzales and J. Edgar Hoover

The fired U.S. Attorney melodrama heads toward a climax this week with the testimony of Monica Goodling, the President once again reaffirms his faith in “Al,” and an off-the-wall suspicion rears its head.

Half a century ago, despite growing evidence of his malfeasance, J. Edgar Hoover managed to hang on to his job as director of the FBI by blackmailing the Presidents who could fire him. He knew where the bodies were buried.

As conventional wisdom keeps reiterating Bush’s loyalty to the man who has served him so long and well, going back to getting him off jury duty without disclosing his drunk-driving record, the question arises: What if bland-looking Alberto Gonzales is benefiting, consciously or not, from what J. Edgar Hoover ruthlessly used?

On the surface, there is no resemblance between mild-mannered Gonzales and the bulldog Hoover, but the grandson of illegal immigrants has made clear his pride in what he has accomplished. If that is taken away from him, how would he react?

Gonzales has been loyally protecting Bush and his attack dog, Rove, by pleading faulty memory in the firing of the prosecutors. If the White House is forced to throw the faithful old retainer to the wolves, could his recollection suddenly improve? Gonzales may not be asking that question, but it almost surely has occurred to his benefactor.

In the Washington power game, the moves hardly ever change. Are we seeing a new variation of a classic standoff? Just asking.

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