My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Can You Hear The Drums A-Bangin'?

When both the Washington Post and the New York Times come out on the same day and call for the defeat of Alberto Gonzalez as the next Attorney General, you can bet that something is going on. When, on that same day, Condeleeza Rice passes confirmation in the Senate with 13 votes against her (the highest number dissenting since, like, 1825), you can bet some people are sharpening their swords.

First, from the WaPo, which, in fairness, did not explicitly call for Gonzalez's defeat:

ALBERTO R. GONZALES was vague, unresponsive and misleading in his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the Bush administration's detention of foreign prisoners. In his written answers to questions from the committee, prepared in anticipation of today's vote on his nomination as attorney general, Mr. Gonzales was clearer -- disturbingly so, as it turns out. According to President Bush's closest legal adviser, this administration continues to assert its right to indefinitely hold foreigners in secret locations without any legal process; to deny them access to the International Red Cross; to transport them to countries where torture is practiced; and to subject them to treatment that is "cruel, inhumane or degrading," even though such abuse is banned by an international treaty that the United States has ratified. In effect, Mr. Gonzales has confirmed that the Bush administration is violating human rights as a matter of policy.

So, not a call for defeat, but certainly a shot across the bow, and an unfair attempt to link this man's legal opinion with atrocities committed at Abu Graib.

Then, the Times:

The attorney general does not merely head up the Justice Department. He is responsible for ensuring that America is a nation in which justice prevails. Mr. Gonzales's record makes him unqualified to take on this role or to represent the American justice system to the rest of the world. The Senate should reject his nomination.

The biggest strike against Mr. Gonzales is the now repudiated memo that gave a disturbingly narrow definition of torture, limiting it to physical abuse that produced pain of the kind associated with organ failure or death. Mr. Gonzales's attempts to distance himself from the memo have been unconvincing, especially since it turns out he was the one who requested that it be written. Earlier the same year, Mr. Gonzales himself sent President Bush a letter telling him that the war on terror made the Geneva Conventions' strict limitations on the questioning of enemy prisoners "obsolete."

These actions created the legal climate that made possible the horrific mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners being held in Abu Ghraib prison.

Just a bit more direct. Of course, wrong--the Geneva Convention does not apply to terrorists, who are not in uniform, respond to no chain of comand, and who, themselves, are not bound by any treaty limitations.

Add to those two opinions from the leading opinion-makers on the East Coast the fact that thirteen Dems voted (okay, twelve Dems and an "Independent") against the first African-American woman nominee for SecState, and you're clearly seeing a willingness on the part of the Dems to engage in the worst sort of partisan politics.

The only remaining question vis-a-vis Gonzalez is are they willing to filibuster his nomination? Based on the 10-8 Committee vote on straight party lines, you can easily imagine a 55-45 floor vote; but are there 40 of them bold enough to filibuster?

Oh, I hope so.

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