One of the reasons that Alberto Gonzales has no street cred as a whatever-ethnographic-epithet-you-want-to-call-him-American is because of the widespread impression/understanding that the President installed him on the basis of precisely that status. A worse — meaning more potent — reason is the impression/understanding that the President picked Gonzales because of the unique confluence of that status and Gonzales’ status as Pal of the President.
Both these factors — whether 100% true or only 50% true — reverberate across the entire irritating panorama of one of this Administration’s most irritating traits — sticking friends in high places. What’s so irritating about it has nothing to do with any particular friend or any particular place, but rather the total package, which has time and again taken the form of an apparently total obliviousness to the toll that loyalism as a habit takes on perceptions of legitimacy. When things are good, no one cares, but when things turn, which they always do during presidencies, the weak point that it is cries out for a good hammering.
This is dumbell politics, pure and simple, if nothing else. It zonked out Harriet Miers in the incredibly narrow window of zonkability that opens between nomination and hearings. It zonked out Kerik (sigh). And it’s what’ll zonk out Gonzales. Nobody, not nobody, has any reason to go to the mat for Al. And building that dynamic into your party, against what will always be their wishes (for partisans like nothing better, and deserve nothing sweeter, than to be justifiably partisan), is a wretched, needless misfortune — one which seems likely to jaundice Bush’s afterimage among Republicans for a long time to come. What’s worse, beyond intra-party politics it plays into the hands of partisan Democrats, muddling the difference between legitimate Congressional inquiry and fish hunts-and-witching expeditions. I think for thoughtful rank-and-filers it’s that which is probably the unforgivable part.