Good-bye to Gonzales and Rove

At last! In an apparent final attempt to clean house before Labor Day, President Bush has accepted the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. It’s the matching bookend for the resignation of Karl Rove a few weeks ago. Both have done severe damage to the idea that the executive branch of the government and the Justice Department should have a higher calling than simply keeping Republicans in power and rewarding their friends. The resignations should not mean that the investigations into their potentially illegal activities should come to an end. Unfortunately, they may ultimately have this effect. Even so, this is far better than if they did not resign at all.

Rove and Gonzales just don’t get it. I am reminded of a quote from an interview with Rove, covered in the New York Times. In responding to criticism of his “single-minded pursuit of his goal of a ‘durable’ Republican majority,” he replied: “With all due respect, don’t you think they would like to have a durable Democratic majority and put us as an un-durable minority?”

Yes. I am certain Democrats would like that very much. But there is a difference between what you would like and the lengths to which you are willing to go to achieve what you would like. The ends don’t always justify the means.

To me, a permanent majority of either party sounds dangerously close to a dictatorship. Both parties should always feel that any majority is in danger of collapsing if the majority fails to perform to the public’s satisfaction.

But even a semi-permanent majority, of the sort Rove might have welcomed, should depend on laudatory accomplishments of the prevailing party—not a series of political manipulations and power grabs and barely concealed attempts to subvert the intent of the Constitution itself. I am referring to manipulations and power grabs such as the federal prosecutor firings scandal that has now forced Gonzales from office.

Even if these resignations do nothing more than put at least a temporary stop to these excesses, they will have had a huge positive effect on the political climate in this country.

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