On the anniversary of President Reagan’s Berlin Wall address, the Democrats are still crying “Tear down Alberto,” after their inability to pass a “no-confidence” resolution yesterday. The GOP Senate minority blocked passage of the non-binding resolution “expressing the sense of the Senate that Attorney General Gonzales no longer holds the confidence of the Senate and of the American people.” The vote was 53 to 38, and fell 7 votes short of the required 60 to proceed.
The left blogosphere interpreted the seven Republican defections as a sign of the political climate for Republicans looking to 2008 and beyond. DailyKos’ McJoan wrote, “But look at which Republican Senators voted aye: Coleman, Collins, Hagel, Smith, Specter, Snowe, Sununu. Ok, so five of them are clearly looking ahead to saving their political skins in November of ‘08, nonetheless, they should be applauded for putting their votes where their mouths have been in recent months.”
Today, the Democratic Caucus’s Senate Journal features a fact vs. fiction, judging Gonzales’ “claims” versus the “reality” (at least, in Democratic eyes).
The Moderate Voice saw the Democratic efforts as a useless last-ditch attempt to oust Gonzales. “The resolution arguably was the last gasp of a futile effort to force out Gonzales, who surely has been the worst attorney general—and liar—in memory. Had Republicans’ consciences come into play, the vote might have been unanimous or nearly so.”
The Washington Post gave the most attention to the story, leading with the Senate vote of no-confidence on Gonzales’ leadership. The Post’s Political columnist Dana Milbank responded to Bush’s comments that votes of no-confidence will influence who serves in “[his] government.”
Milbank writes, “My government? Only in America would the president turn himself into a king on the very same day that the Senate decides to become a parliament.”
The Post’s editorial, entitled “Misplaced Confidence,” also blasts Gonzales’ incompetence: “Mr. Gonzales was the wrong choice to become the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, and his conduct on the job has only served to underscore his unfitness. He has been unwilling or unable to describe how almost one-tenth of the U.S. attorneys under his purview were chosen for firing.”
The San Francisco Chronicle agreed, saying that Bush was, in effect, “protecting incompetence.”
Tony Snow took time away from his press secretary duties to react to the Senate’s vote in a USA Today column, arguing that both Gonzales and the Senate deserve better. Snow wrote, “Gonzales doesn’t deserve this. He is a man of great dedication and integrity. He has earned the president’s trust, and the nation’s, as the leader of the largest law-enforcement agency on earth at a time of chilling and constantly changing global peril.”
Alexander Heffner is an intern at CJR.
But for all the talk of resignation, the Democrats and media are quietly realizing that their fight to reveal the truth about Gonzales (and force his resignation) is a lost cause. If Bush stood by ally Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld for six years (over life and death, war and peace), Gonzales likely will stay too. Plus, with the President’s agenda plummeting, you can bet Bush wants to be “the decider” when he can.