What's going on over at weeklystandard.com?
Peter Berkowitz has a piece on how Bush should reach out to Democrats; I have a piece defending John Kerry; and Terry Eastland is launching what appears to be a subtle attack on Alberto Gonzales. It's madness, I tell you!
Eastland's gentle complaint about Gonzales is that he has no big-pond management experience and has very little on his résumé to recommend him for the job of attorney general in a post-9/11 world. That sounds about right to me. Particularly since there were two other obvious candidates on the table: Larry Thompson and Jim Comey.
You'll remember that Bush telegraphed his opposition to Comey a couple weeks ago, on the grounds that, while he was highly qualified for the job, he wasn't loyal enough. In case you're struggling to remember the exact words, here they are, courtesy of an anonymous Bush official: "The White House always wants to make sure the administration is staffed with people who have the president's best interests at heart. Anyone who resists that political loyalty check is regarded with some suspicion. The objective in staffing is never to assemble the best possible team. . . . [Comey] has shown insufficient political savvy. The perception is that he has erred too much on the side of neutrality and independence."
Larry Thompson does not seem to have similarly raised the Austin hackles. So let's hope that his passing over is because the president has larger things in mind for him, perhaps even the Supreme Court.
But back to Gonzales. While his actual qualifications may be a little on the thin side, he does have two things going for him: (1) He's a long-time Bush confidant; and (2) He's Hispanic.
The first part speaks for itself. But as for the second, Gonzales closed his introductory remarks the other day with a troubling sentiment. He said:
"Finally, to our President, when I talk to people around the country I sometimes tell them that within the Hispanic community there is a shared hope for an opportunity to succeed. 'Just give me a chance to prove myself'--that is a common prayer for those in my community. Mr. President, thank you for that chance."
The job of attorney general is bigger than an individual--this appointment isn't about advancing Gonzales's career and "proving himself" (or at least it shouldn't be). That the incoming attorney general sees his appointment this way is troubling. That the president is taking "a chance" with one of the most important jobs in the fight against terrorism is, too.
56 minutes ago