President Bush has re-affirmed his support for Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales, despite the unrelenting bipartisan pounding of Gonzales by Congress.
Gonzales remains a major distraction and embarrassment for the President, weakening the White House's ability to focus on Iraq, the federal budget, Medicare and Social Security insolvency, and a host of other issues.
The headlines won't stop; the pounding won't go away; the distraction will continue. The President cannot be happy, but he's sticking by Gonzales.
Simply put: Because as bad as things are, any other course would make them worse. A firing or resignation would require the President to nominate a new Attorney General. Senate Democrats then would seize that as a fresh opportunity to:
- Revisit the controversies over Gonzales (asking the nominee endless questions about whether they endorse or disavow each action by Gonzales)
- Grill the nominee about each and every hot-button issue in the justice system (homeland security intelligence-gathering; the rights of detainees at Guantanamo Bay; "profiling" of terrorism suspects; enforcement of the death penalty; etc)
- Quiz the nominee about supposed flaws in their background and whether his/her views are politically-correct or not.
It would be a major media circus that would be dragged out for months. Meantime, the hearings over Gonzales and the dismissals of eight U.S. attorneys would continue. His departure would not end those hearings or those headlines.
Had there actually been a violation of law by Gonzales, the equation would be different. Then a change in that position would be necessary. But it's not because this is a political controversy rather than a legal breach.
The current one-ring circus would expand into a two-ring circus if Gonzales were to go. As bad as the current distraction is for the White House, replacing the Attorney-General would only make it worse.