Sunday, March 25, 2007

Speaking of "not distinguished" attorneys...

Frank Rich plays on Bush's supposed nickname for Alberto Gonzales today, "When Will Fredo Get Whacked?" He surmises that'll happen once Alberto's no longer useful to the boss. In the meantime, Bush is remaining loyal, since they've got a lot of, how shall we put it, "delicate" history. Some of it:
Mr. Gonzales may be a nonentity, but he’s a nonentity like Zelig. He’s been present at every dubious legal crossroads in Mr. Bush’s career. That conjoined history began in 1996, when Mr. Bush, then governor of Texas, was summoned for jury duty in Austin. To popular acclaim, he announced he was glad to lend his “average guy” perspective to a drunken driving trial. But there was one hitch. On the juror questionnaire, he left blank a required section asking, “Have you ever been accused, or a complainant, or a witness in a criminal case?”

A likely explanation for that omission, unknown to the public at the time, was that Mr. Bush had been charged with disorderly conduct in 1968 and drunken driving in 1976. Enter Mr. Gonzales. As the story is told in “The President’s Counselor,” a nonpartisan biography by the Texas journalist Bill Minutaglio, Mr. Gonzales met with the judge presiding over the trial in his chambers (a meeting Mr. Gonzales would years later claim to have “no recollection” of requesting) and saved his client from jury duty. Mr. Minutaglio likens the scene to “The Godfather” — casting Mr. Gonzales not as the feckless Fredo, however, but as the “discreet ‘fixer’ attorney,” Robert Duvall’s Tom Hagen.

Mr. Gonzales’s career has been laced with such narrow escapes for both him and Mr. Bush. As a partner at the Houston law firm of Vinson & Elkins, Mr. Gonzales had worked for Enron until 1994. After Enron imploded in 2001, reporters wanted to know whether Ken Lay’s pals in the Bush hierarchy had received a heads up about the company’s pending demise before its unfortunate shareholders were left holding the bag. The White House said that Mr. Gonzales had been out of the Enron loop “to the best of his recollection.” This month Murray Waas of The National Journal uncovered a more recent close shave: Just as Justice Department investigators were about to examine “documents that might have shed light on Gonzales’s role” in the administration’s extralegal domestic wiretapping program last year, Mr. Bush shut down the investigation.

It was Mr. Gonzales as well who threw up roadblocks when the 9/11 Commission sought documents and testimony from the White House about the fateful summer of 2001.
Seems to me that someone could fetch quite a deal for a very interesting little memoir. I find that 9/11 reference to be quite intriguing to ponder. What does Fredo know about events that summer?

Beyond the Bush skeletons, the more likely and immediate rationale for Bush's fierce defence of Gonzales...of course, the serious allegations of obstruction of justice that have been bubbling up from the cases of some of the fired attorneys and beyond.

This must be quite the thing, to get caught up in the ride with a life-long friend/power-broker who brings you along to heights you never would have reached and to whom you owe everything. And to now be in the midst of your hubris-filled adventure coming crashing down around you. How degrading it must have been for Gonzales, deep down in some small part of his soul, to have had to endure the annoyingly condescending label of Fredo from a boob like George W.

But heck... I'm starting to sound sympathetic, let's rein that in...:)