Will GOP Support for Gonzales Finally Dry Up?
by Jonathan Singer, Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 02:04:47 PM EDT
Throughout the prosecutor purge scandal, I have been amazed by the extent to which Republicans on Capitol Hill, as well as the conservative establishment, have been willing to stand by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Certainly, there have been the occasional public statements from endangered Republican Senators along the lines of "If Gonzales were to resign it wouldn't be a bad thing" or "President Bush should seriously think about whether Gonzales is the most effective person to run the Department of Justice." Nonetheless, by withholding strong disapprobation or calls for impeachment proceedings, leading Republicans and conservatives have offered Gonzales the implied backing he has needed to remain as Attorney General.
Could that support, however tacit, be on the verge of drying up? We'll know more when tomorrow's vote of no-cofidence in the Senate rolls around. But judging by the crowing of Republicans about one notable consequence of the Gonzales scandal -- further slowing the judicial nomination process for the far right jurists the base wants to see placed on the bench to serve for the next few decades -- such a point may be coming sooner than we think. Check out Robert Barnes and Michael Abramowitz writing today in The Washington Post.
But though some people single out Democrats for criticism, others worry that changes in the White House counsel's office and the congressional uproar over Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales have pushed the issue lower on the priority list. "I have been pressing them to submit names -- because every day that passes it becomes that much more difficult," said Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), the committee's ranking Republican. "I am not disappointed, because the president is busy. But there is an opportunity that could be missed if they don't start submitting names."
Added Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), a strong White House ally who is on the committee: "With all the investigations and things that have been going on, we have not seen a steady stream of nominees coming to the Senate."
Congresisonal Republicans and their conservative allies have to this point been willing to stick with George W. Bush, and thus Alberto Gonzales, because they believed doing so was in their interest. A drawn out confirmation battle over an Attorney General -- who, by the way, would serve a year and a half or less -- would slow the confirmation process for conservative jurists, thus setting back their one of their top priorities.
But given the fact that the confirmation process is already moving slowly -- too slowly for a great number in the far right wing of American politics -- perhaps conservatives and Republicans on Capitol Hill will come to the realization that their support for the Attorney General and the President is not in fact serving their cause. I'm not by any means banking on the situation playing out as such. Yet just trying to read the tea leaves, I wouldn't be terribly surprised to find at least a few in the conservative ranks calling for Gonzales to go in the not too distant future.