It's hard to see how Alberto Gonzalez survives, what with the almost complete repudiation of his various defenses by the calm, cool and collected testimony of his former chief of staff, Kyle Sampson.
The only way out when you can't just quit and your boss isn't going to fire you is to have to resign. To be noble. To protect the kids!
There may not have been the Alexander Butterfield moment Chris Matthews predicted, but Sampson's demeanor hearkened back to that previously faceless bureaucrat, whose testimony to the Senate Watergate Committee about bugging devices in the Oval Office quickly altered history. And it also seemed reminiscent of John Dean's appearance in the same forum, although, chief of staff, you are no John Dean.
Gonzales, who, unless he chooses to do another interview, or step down, is next scheduled to face the subject of how eight US attorneys got the axe on April 17. Support by President Bush (the only support that matters) seems perfunctory at this point:
"Asked about Gonzales during a closed-door meeting with House Republicans on Thursday, Bush did not defend his longtime friend, according to one official who attended the session and demanded anonymity because it was private," MSNBC reports. "Instead, Bush tepidly repeated his public statement: The attorney general would have to go up to Capitol Hill and fix his problem, according to this official."Recall, by comparison, the rousing defense of Donald Rumsfeld weeks after Bush privately decided to let his defense secretary go, and days before the axe fell.
Gonzalez is nobody's sweetheart except Bush's so it is unlikely many tears would be shed over his departure under a cloud. But since there is no obvious exit strategy, how is the best way to manage this?
Gonzalez has vowed to keep protecting our kids, so he'd be a heel to abandon them just to save himself. Bush has said it is up to Gonzalez to sort it out with Congress but had also says Gonzales has his confidence, so it would take quite a lot to ask for the resignation of his old friend.
Recall, by comparison, the rousing defense of Rumsfeld weeks after Bush decided to let him go and days before the axe fell.
The only way out when you can't just quit and your boss isn't going to fire you is to have to resign so as, oh let's say, not bring further unwanted attention to the administration, be a distraction from the great and important work it does, make it possible to actually protect kids rather than constantly be engaged in self-defense, etc. It has to be noble.
So keep up the pressure on Alberto. Get personal. Be unfair in your criticisms. Make too much of the fact that he either has no idea what is going on at Justice or lied about being deeply involved in the dismissal of the eight US attorneys.
Remember: it's for the kids.