Tuesday, August 28, 2007

To Gonzales: Corruptibility Was Your Weak Suit

It's the Horatio Alger story of a man who went from being the son of an alcoholic Texas migrant worker to a Harvard-educated lawyer, state Supreme Court justice and U.S. attorney general. Then, to resignation under a cloud, and scandal that's unlikely to end for years. Fredo, it's been some ride.

But I can't feel sorry for you, because you did this to yourself. It's not even the stuff that Greek tragedies were made of, because it was all too sordid, too early. It appears to be a case of ambition turning yet another potential hero into just one more human dunghill.

Ethically speaking, there were plenty of opportunities along the way for you to stop and check your notes. But you were always too eager to get ahead. In 1996, you helped get then-Gov. George W. Bush excused from jury duty, so he wouldn't have to disclose a 1976 drunken driving arrest in Maine. Were you thinking about your future then?

There was your crucial role in the torture scandals that have dogged this administration since 9-11. This description is from an Associated Press report:

In a legal memo in 2002, he (Gonzales) contended that Bush had the right to waive anti-torture laws and international treaties that protected prisoners of war. The memo said some of the prisoner-of-war protections contained in the Geneva Conventions were "quaint" and that in any event, the treaty did not apply to enemy combatants in the war on terror.

Human rights groups later contended his memo led directly to the abuses exposed in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq.

Then, of course, there were the obviously partisan firings of the U.S. attorneys, your bedside manner with then-Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2004 over the wiretapping question, and so forth. All of this has been well-covered. And so were your many "I don't know" and "I can't recall" answers to the Senate Judiciary Committee back in April.

All along, it has reeked of an old Warner Brothers movie script about a bright, ambitious, hardworking kid who rises from the ethnic slums, but makes too many Faustian bargains on his way up. Perfect casting for Paul Muni, circa 1937.

But you're nobody's hero now, Fredo. And Paul Muni would have come clean near the end and exposed the bad guys. Something tells me you would never dream of doing anything that decent. Corruptibility was always your problem, and that will never change.

Crossposted at Manifesto Joe