When I was a kid, I tried a few times to use the ‘I forgot’ defense with my parents. It didn’t work too often. So, I was fairly impressed when President Reagan used it with such great effect with respect to the Iran-Contra matter. Unlike the Great Communicator, however, neither I nor Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appear to have Alzheimers.
Gonzales is facing the Senate Judiciary Committee asking questions about whether eight United States Attorneys were fired for political reasons. For example, it has been suggested that the United States Attorney for New Mexico was fired because he would not pursue politically timed and motivated corruption charges shortly before the election there. The reverse seems to have happened in Wisconsin where a U.S. Attorney was retained after pursuing a political corruption charge against Georgia Thompson so baseless the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decided more or less on the spot to release the accused from incarceration, calling the evidence against her “beyond thin.”
This is part and parcel of the Bush administration’s electoral strategy. As McClatchy News article puts it:
For six years, the Bush administration, aided by Justice Department political appointees, has pursued an aggressive legal effort to restrict voter turnout in key battleground states in ways that favor Republican political candidates.
The administration intensified its efforts last year as President Bush’s popularity and Republican support eroded heading into a midterm battle for control of Congress, which the Democrats won.
Facing nationwide voter registration drives by Democratic-leaning groups, the administration alleged widespread election fraud and endorsed proposals for tougher state and federal voter identification laws. Presidential political adviser Karl Rove alluded to the strategy in April 2006 when he railed about voter fraud in a speech to the Republican National Lawyers Association.
We heard echoes of this strategy in the state GOP’s successful efforts to pass strict Voter ID requirements for those voters who vote at the polls (not so much for absentee voters, as I recall) championed by Todd “blacks are Democratic Slaves” Rokita.
So back to Gonzales, caught with his hand in the political cookie jar, Gonzales had to explain some of this to the Senate. He went with the “I forgot” defense:
His performance clearly exasperated the committee members, who were angered as he invoked a faulty memory more than 50 times. Republicans did not hold back in going after one of their partyâ€™s own. Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, went so far as to call for Mr. Gonzales to resign, a demand made by only one other senator, Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York.
I’m not so interested in Mr. Gonzales’s resignation. I don’t see that the Bush administration has any real interest in appointing competent people to important posts. There is nothing to be done, really, but ride this out and turn over as many of the rocks as possible so people at least know the depth of incompetence.