Saturday, April 28, 2007

Job Security

Well, the BYU thing is over. The VEEP came, said almost nothing of a political nature in his 15 minute address and left after being in Utah about 5 hours. The crowd, as predicted, thought he was the nicest fellow to come to Provo since Spiro Agnew. The anti-Cheney protesters kept within their restrictions and nothing more lethal than insults were exchanged between those for and against His Dickness. Graduation was turned inside out to accommodate the big guy, and big bucks were spent, but no one's counting the totals just yet.

Now, suppose your employer was having some serious problems, and the fingers were starting to point your way. Imagine having to answer to a group of major stockholders who were allowed to ask you any questions they wanted for as long as they wanted.You have had some time to prepare for this grilling, but nonetheless find yourself unable to answer some major questions, and are forced to plead ignorance more than once. How many times would you guess that you'd be able to say "I don't know." or "I can't remember." before the committee gives up, points to the door and orders you to disappear - forever? Three times? Five? Certainly less than ten, right?
Perhaps you can see where I'm headed here. The nation's top law enforcement guy, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, has had a rocky time leading the Justice Department. Local federal prosecutors with good performance reviews were getting fired without explanation, and the FBI, long a tough bunch to rein in, weren't being reined in enough to satisfy the Senate, who dragged Mr. G. in for a day of questioning. So, did the former White House counsel, the guy who knew precisely how and where the Geneva Conventions no longer applied to the US, have a tough memory day? Did he ever! Entire sticks of chalk were used keeping track of the gaps, and the ignorance total for the day came to a jaw-dropping 71 times that the crime-busting AG just didn't know the answer. He attempted to have it both ways by assuring the Senate that everything had happened "lawfully", though he didn't say how he remembered that.
So, was the Senate disgusted by this craven performance? Yes, both sides. Did the Senate fire Gonzales on the spot? Some would have liked to, however the only person with the authority to dump the guy is the President, who lowered the performance bar to about a foot by saying that AG had answered all the questions he could., as though his guy had been infected by Reagan with a touch of Alzheimer's, but was being kept on the payroll because the medical plan was topnotch. By the end of the week Gonzales was speaking as though he were in charge of his own job tenure, saying that he would continue as long as he could be "effective", whatever that means.
I think what it may really mean is this: No one except for Laura (and perhaps Karl Rove) has spent more time with Mr. Bush in the past ten years than Alberto Gonzales, and both of them know that Gonzales could make Bush's life very complicated if AG could not serve out his term as AG and had to write a book about the Bush White House in order to pay the bills. So, we'll have one less book about White House scandals and many more about the screwups in Justice and the FBI during the screwup-prone Bush 43 years. Mr. Gonzales, by contrast, has a bright future, not as a memory coach, but on Wall Street, where the real money gets made. As for crime busting, some things are just more important than putting those hoods behind bars, namely remaining in office.


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