Standing by the Wrong Guy
Just when it seemed George W. Bush's sinking prestige with his Republican base had bottomed out, his stock hit new lows. The president's seeming indifference to the sentencing of Scooter Libby was bad enough. But it coincided with Bush's apparent determination to retain his friend Alberto Gonzales as attorney general against congressional pressure to depose him.We know how the Base feels about Libby but how do they really feel about Gonzales. Novak is in a good position to know.
Prevailing opinion among Republican office holders, contributors and activists could not differ more from Bush's posture. They regard Libby as a valuable public servant who faces serious prison time thanks to prosecutorial abuse made possible by Bush administration decisions. They see Gonzales as an embarrassment to the party who presides over a hollow Justice Department while presidential staffers search for Senate votes to block a no-confidence motion.
In contrast, Republican insiders are enraged by Bush's retention of Gonzales, whom they consider a political and governmental disaster. Beyond his affection for Gonzales, the president is reported to fear that a new attorney general could not be confirmed without pledging to name a special prosecutor to investigate the firing of U.S. attorneys. That explanation suggests a lame-duck regime, preferring to stay with a crippled, leaderless Justice Department.And the Libby-Gonazales flap is not all.
The Gonzales-Libby equation is symbolic of Republican discontent with the president. He failed utterly to narrow the divide within the party over his immigration reform. Time is running out -- to less than three months -- on GOP forbearance on Iraq. In the closing months of the administration, key posts are unfilled and what old hands call "children" fill others. Facing multiple investigations, Bush aides without personal fortunes are threatened by daunting legal fees.So it took the Republicans six years to figure out what the rest of us know in 2001. George W. Bush doesn't care about the country, he doesn't care about the Republican party, he doesn't care about people who have been loyal to him - he only cares about George W. Bush; the 60 year old adolescent.