We at the Egg spent some time yesterday listening to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testifying before a Senate committee. Now, granted, the senators were pretty hostile. But "hostile," in this case, simply means that they weren't giving him a free pass every time he lied.
Nor were they ready to accept his other tactic, which boils down to "Why, Senator, I've already admitted that mistakes were made [or: "that could have been handled better"]. Now can't we stop talking about all this and move on?
Gonzales genuinely doesn't seem to understand that the "mistakes" he is trying to blow past are serious. They consist of (a) collaborating in an attempt to turn the Department of Justice into a partisan political organization; and then (b) lying about it consistently, if not convincingly. Now, compared to his stirring defense of torture, this may not be so bad; but it is bad indeed. If we cannot trust the Department of Justice -- justice! -- to be impartial, then what hope for a free society do we have?
By the way, we can usually tell a weenie from a statesman by his use of the passive voice. Trapped in lie after lie, Gonzales can barely bring himself to say "I made a mistake," which is the very least of what he has done. Instead, he says, "Mistakes were made." How Reaganesque. Sadly, however, mistakes are not made in the abstract; they are made in the concrete, by real people. In this case, by Gonzales, as well as the people who pressured him to demean his office and ultimately the person who appointed him to that office. They have all made mistakes, and they should all be held accountable.
Later, talking to the PBS NewsHour, Senators Leahy and Specter seemed to describe the two different ways of looking at Gonzales' testimony. Leahy, a Democrat, suggested that it revealed a systematic effort to undermine democratic institutions. Specter, a Republican, thought this was overkill -- in his estimation, Gonzales merely showed that he was incompetent. While we are prone to side with Leahy on this, if "mere incompetence" is what it takes to remove Gonzales, then so be it.
And on a religious nore, enjoy the irony: the holier-than-thou Bush administration has ignored all those Biblical warnings about "perverting justice." (E.g., Prov. 17:23).