Thursday, March 15, 2007

On Alberto Gonzales and Related Syndromes

My brain works in mysterious ways today. I wrote a full post about fall guys, scapegoats and strawwomen without really getting to the reason for that post, the reason being the recent Walter Reed scandal and the still-widening Gonzales Gate*, and how these two are producing lots of new fall guys and gals, some scapegoats and even a few strawfigures. As an example, consider the firing of the eight federal prosecutors (which I call the Gonzales Gate) and the most recent chapter in the saga:

New unreleased e-mails from top administration officials show that the idea of firing all 93 U.S. attorneys was raised by White House adviser Karl Rove in early January 2005, indicating Rove was more involved in the plan than the White House previously acknowledged.

The e-mails also show that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales discussed the idea of firing the attorneys en masse weeks before he was confirmed as attorney general.

The e-mails directly contradict White House assertions that the notion originated with recently departed White House counsel Harriet Miers, and was her idea alone.

The eight fired prosecutors look like scapegoats. D. Kyle Sampson, Gonzales's former Chief of Staff was most likely a fall guy. Harriet Miers, according to the above quote, may have been intended for a fall gal. And the strawmen? That would depend on your political views, I guess, but certainly the conservatives attempt to argue that the whole scandal is a strawman created by the Democrats.

Now cast your mind back a bit, to the Walter Reed scandal. Many heads fell in that one, and I think that at least one head might not have belonged to a fall guy or a mastermind but a scapegoat. That would be the head of George W. Weightman, the last commander of the Walter Reed complex. He wasn't the commander for long enough to have been responsible for the state of affairs at Walter Reed and there is some evidence that he was trying to improve matters. But he had to be made to resign. Symbolism seems to demand it.

*A good place to follow the events of the Gonzales Gate is Josh Marshall's place, but a quick summary of the issue is that it is all about lying or not lying to the Congress.