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The tubes of the internets are abuzz with today’s breaking news – the resignation of the worst attorney general our country has ever experienced. Of course, the president blamed Democratic politicians for dragging a good man through the mud, one who had done nothing wrong. Gonzales added to the carnival atmosphere by claiming that his worst day “serving the public” was better than his father’s best day.
The next hottest issue is who will replace Gonzo. My guess is none of the above.
Let’s take a look at today’s reality. Our congress, as compliant, spineless and corruptable as ever, is so afraid of taking a real stance, that it is highly unlikely that even a Chertoff, an Addington, or even a Libby or Fielding would be oppsed by them. The longer that the Democratic-led congress remains clueless and impotent, the more breathing room the president has. The odds are good, given past behavior, that the Senate would eventually cave in to the president’s wishes, even if Jack the Ripper, RIchard Speck, or Mr. Bean was nominated.
But, I suspect that the White House is content to do nothing. Especially now. You never push against an enemy that is busy self-destructing, and the Democratic leadership sure seems to be doing that. Of course, the White House meltdown continues unabated as well. Rove, Libby, and many others are gone, and Gonzales is following in their wake. Still, the White House is in power, and that power remains significant, what with unfettered, uncontrolled domestic spying approved by the congress, and personally controlled by the top man at the DOJ. As I said, a LOT of power.
Bush knows that a truly useful candidate would never pass through the senate, not even if he selected a senator like Hatch. Why pick a fight that might cause the democrats to organize and stand up for a change, instead of slinking away like a slimy snake, fearful, scared, clueless?
Besides, there is no need to make a choice. The status quo suits Bush perfectly. Not only do the Democrats scurry around, worrying who he might pick, but they will waste energy making demands of Bush to play fair and be nice. The louder those claims are, the more foolish and weak the Dems look.
The secret behind the resignation’s timing is simple – Bush did not want to go through a messy nomination hearing. And given his promise not to inject an appointment while congress is not in session, some think that he is boxed in. They would be wrong.
When Gonzales was still #1, his top deputy resigned. That left Paul Clement as the next highest ranking DOJ employee. Now that Gonzo is leaving, while those top spots remain open, he takes charge.
What Bush and Rove managed to do is to “set up” congress yet again. Not only will there never be a confirmation hearing for a new DOJ head, there won’t even be a nominee. Why would Bush need one? His dream candidate is already in place.
Let’s look at Clement’s dirty laundry: He clerked for two of the biggest neocon judges, Laurence H. Silberman (DC Circ) and Justice Antonin Scalia. He worked for Kirkland and Ellis, the GOP dream firm. In fact, he was hired to work for Ken Starr. He worked for then Senator John Ashcroft, before he was hired to write the supreme court briefs in support of the GOP in Bush v. Gore.
No matter how you slice it, Clement is a clone of the worst aspects of both Ashcroft and Gonzales, except that by all accounts, he is also brilliant and extremely ideological. And on top of all that, he is friendly, personable, and has a nice smile, with no smirk to be found.
Clement is Bush’s wet dream candidate – he could not have picked a better nominee – except he doesn’t even have to officially pick him now. Clement remains in place and in charge as long as no other nominee is selected by Bush.
Why would Bush risk energizing the left and the center with a worse nominee? Why would Bush remove a dream candidate who will pursue White House political and legal strategies for the next 18 months without the slightest hint of remorse? Why spend the time and energy vetting, questioning and searching, when from Bush’s point of view Clement is the perfect man for the job. Committed, loyal, political, smart, neoconservative, and ideologically tested and found to be true.
For these reasons, Bush make play at a new nominee, just to keep the critics guessing and confused. He may even dangle a few names, in an effort to split the Dems and keep the GOP in line. He might even promise things in exchange for “support for my new choice”, while all the time, he won’t have to lift a finger, in fact, he won’t lift a finger to pick anyone. Clement’s already there.