Spin Begins After Gonzales Resignation
Dems and Republicans Welcome Gonzales' Departure and Look to a Potential Successor
Aug. 28, 2007
Alberto Gonzales is the latest casualty for the Bush administration, but his departure is being welcomed on both sides of the aisle. For Democrats, it's another scalp to hang on the wall, and for Republicans, a huge distraction has now gone away.
President Bush said he accepted the resignation with regret. Gonzales was an old buddy from Texas.
And after the resignations of adviser Karl Rove and former White House counselors Harriet Miers and Dan Bartlett, Gonzales was one of the last of the Texas team still serving the administration.
But Gonzales has also been mired in controversy for several months. Lawmakers blasted the attorney general after his department fired at least nine U.S. attorneys last year and accused him of misusing terrorist surveillance programs. Most recently, Democrats said Gonzales had repeatedly lied to Congress under oath.
The president stuck by him to the bitter end.
"His good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons," Bush said.
Let the Spin Begin
Were it not for the scandals, Bush had hoped to make Gonzales the first Hispanic justice on the United States Supreme Court. Now the White House is just hoping to limit the damage and put the Gonzales mess behind them.
In fact, some Republicans are spinning the Gonzales resignation as worse for Democrats.
"It's a huge loss for Democrats because he has become the favorite whipping boy on Capitol Hill. And now Democrats, if they can't swing at a political piñata, they'll be swinging in the air," said Republican strategist Kellyanne Conway.
But another political analyst, Stu Rothenberg, said Gonzales' resignation doesn't change anything for the president or the Republican party.
The Democrats still control Congress, so instead of a protracted standoff between the attorney general and the judiciary committee, the administration will now face a confirmation fight when the president chooses a replacement.
In the past six months, as the Gonzales scandal gathered steam, several senior Justice Department officials resigned. Not since Watergate have so many of the top jobs there been vacant.
Depending on who the president picks, there's going to be some sort of fight, some sort of controversy. It's going to be messy," Rothenberg predicted.
But it may have been more messy had Gonzales stayed on as attorney general. The resignation does eliminate a potential distraction prior to the crucial September report on Iraq. With an eye on 2008, some top Republicans are showing impatience over the troop surge.
"The resignation of Alberto Gonzales probably does not come a moment too soon for a president who needs to relieve himself of many distractions in order to gird for the important battles of Iraq," Conway said.
Among the names being floated as a replacement for Gonzales are Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who faced criticism over the government's response to Katrina; Sen. Jack Danforth, R-Mo.; retired Judge Lawrence Silverman; former Solicitor General Ted Olson; and former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, who, if nominated and approved, would be the first African-American attorney general.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.