Wednesday, July 06, 2005

An Argument in Support of Gonzales

I'm too lazy to find a good link, but I just read my favorite Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid say:
"Alberto Gonzales is qualified. He's attorney general of the United States and a former Texas judge. But having said that he's qualified, I don't know if he'd have an easy way through."

And what do we think about this? Is Gonzales such a bad choice? This might just be a clever ploy by Reid, to show that he supports a likely Bush candidate who he knows will be heartburn for ultra-conservatives (the kind of ploy which makes me like Reid more every time); but perhaps he's sincere. So is Gonzales a bad choice?

Sure, there's the torture memo thing. And sure, there's the Texas executions thing. But were those his ideas of good policies? Or was he just doing the job he was hired to do? After all, no matter what you think of the torture memo, it's impossible to know what his real opinion was. Typical of all conservative policies, the policy came first, and the justification followed. Gonzales' job wasn't to figure out whether torture was justified. His job was to find that justification. Not that I like that, and not that I'd accept that job. But that was his job, and he did it.

And there's no reason to assume that he'd necessarily do the same if given the judge job. He seems like an intelligent guy, and he'd probably be his own man. And it's even possible that he might even be the moderate that we need. He might be a tad bit ethically challenged, I suppose, for accepting the Bush job. But after all, he is a lawyer, and lawyers often defend unethical clients. It comes with the territory. And if he really didn't agree with his torture justification, doesn't that show that he's intelligent enough to separate his personal feelings from his job duties? Isn't that an important trait in a judge?

Besides could you honestly say that you'd turn down a similar job working for a Democrat President, if it meant you'd have to justify the unjustifiable? It's not quite the same, but if you worked for Clinton, would you have looked for legal justifications of Clinton's false testimony and public statements? Or would you have quit the job, or faced possible punishment? I don't know. It's easy to be ethically superior when you're talking about somebody else's choices; especially if that person is on the other side.

Am I suggesting that we support him? I don't know. But I do like the politics of us showing support for someone who Bush supports, but who the right-wing extremists deplore. It makes us look moderate and reasonable, and makes them look like the freaks they are. That's not good enough if Gonzales is a really bad choice. But if he's not such a bad choice, then maybe we should follow Reid's lead. I can't really think of much he's let us down on, and he's got good political instincts. It's something to think about, anyway.

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