It is true that the attorney general can give up any hopes he might have had about joining the nine if one justice or another retires in June or July. Any nominee would almost certainly have to come from the Senate to make it through the Senate. It may even be the case that the attorney general couldn't secure confirmation for a circuit court appointment now, but perhaps he wasn't interested in one anyway.
But among this president's key traits is loyalty down in response to loyalty up. He won't be tossing Alberto Gonzales under the bus because of inelegant handling of a set of political firings. To do so would be to invite more of the same from Democrats. "That which gets rewarded gets repeated," is how UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh put it Tuesday, and that's a golden rule of Washington if ever I heard one. Lower the bar for "scandal," and you will get more "scandals," not fewer.
No senior official -- either Democrat or Republican -- has ever been forced out over such a nonissue. Gonzales should not be the first.
Hugh Hewitt is host of the nationally syndicated "Hugh Hewitt" show and author of "A Mormon in the White House? Ten Things Every American Should Know About Mitt Romney." He blogs at hughhewitt.com