'Times,' 'Post' Columnists on Gonzales Resignation For more on Attorney General Albert Gonzales' resignation, Robert Siegel talks with political commentators E.J. Dionne, a columnist with The Washington Post, and David Brooks, a columnist with The New York Times.
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'Times,' 'Post' Columnists on Gonzales Resignation

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'Times,' 'Post' Columnists on Gonzales Resignation

'Times,' 'Post' Columnists on Gonzales Resignation

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Now, our regular political observers: E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post and David Brooks of the New York Times. And I'd like to hear from both of you fellows.

First, E.J., what does your gut say about this resignation? Do you think that Alberto Gonzales jumped of his own free will or was he pushed by somebody?

Mr. E.J. DIONNE (Columnist, The Washington Post): I think the president decided to let him go. And I think the president has decided to let him go for a number of reasons. First, at the end of the congressional session, Congress approved the surveillance bill for terrorists that only lasted about six months, trying to solve some of these problems the administration claimed were created by decisions made by the federal court that oversees these things. They've got to negotiate a new bill in the next session and I don't think Alberto Gonzales was the guy to do it.

Secondly, it was very clear that Republican confidence in Gonzales had gone a long time ago, particularly Republicans up for reelection the next time in 2008 were turning against him, so he didn't have a lot of support. I mean, Karl Rove and Alberto Gonzales were the immovable objects and then they moved. And I think the administration would like to say Congress can't investigate this anymore. It's partisan if they do, because Rove and Gonzales are gone. I don't think it will work that way, but that's what they'd like to hope.

SIEGEL: David Brooks, what's your sense of how voluntary a departure this was in the end?

Mr. DAVID BROOKS (Columnist, The New York Times): Well, it was like Little League. It was the mercy rule. He was behind by so much. They finally put him out of his misery. As E.J. says, he had no Republican support and no support in Washington, even among Republicans. I spoke to one today who said, well, the best thing about Alberto Gonzales was he never was named to the Supreme Court. So we didn't have to leave with them anymore. People didn't dislike him. They just didn't think he was up to the job. So he had no real confidence out in the country and in the legal community.

And the second thing was that the thing that's coming up is a whole series of fights on executive privilege. And I don't think the White House thought they wanted to go into those fights with Alberto Gonzales who had so clumsily asserted executive privilege. Believe me, they want to assert it. But they want to do in a much more subtle way. So I think what we're seeing is that. And then finally, the ending of, really, the Texas regime - the early Bush-style of management where everything was run tightly at the White House and with a strong Texas flavor.

SIEGEL: Before the break, we're going to come back to this. But I'm just curious about one other point from you, David Brooks. Alberto Gonzales was, I think, the highest-ranking Latino appointee in the history of the United States government. Is there any residual, either goodwill from Latinos or some political benefit to the Republicans for that fact?

Mr. BROOKS: Well, not political. It's all been swamped by the immigration reform. I spoke to a very senior legal person who has Hispanic background. And he said he was very proud at Alberto Gonzales' nomination process. He felt some surge of pride. At the same point, even at that moment, he felt nervousness, because he didn't think he was good for the group.

SIEGEL: David Brooks and E.J. Dionne we're going to continue this discussion of Alberto Gonzales' resignation in just a moment when ALL THINGS CONSIDERED continues.

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