The latest information comes from Paul Krugman (via Andrew Sullivan) about the Bush assault on the judiciary:
Today the Post reported that US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales agreed to quit packing the court with toadies; he was forced by GOP Senators who could no longer bear the public outrage of the firings and their culpability in rigging the Patriot Act.
Donald Shields and John Cragan, two professors of communication, have compiled a database of investigations and/or indictments of candidates and elected officials by U.S. attorneys since the Bush administration came to power. Of the 375 cases they identified, 10 involved independents, 67 involved Republicans, and 298 involved Democrats. The main source of this partisan tilt was a huge disparity in investigations of local politicians, in which Democrats were seven times as likely as Republicans to face Justice Department scrutiny.
How can this have been happening without a national uproar? The authors explain: "We believe that this tremendous disparity is politically motivated and it occurs because the local (non-statewide and non-Congressional) investigations occur under the radar of a diligent national press. Each instance is treated by a local beat reporter as an isolated case that is only of local interest."
And let's not forget that Karl Rove's candidates have a history of benefiting from conveniently timed federal investigations. Last year Molly Ivins reminded her readers of a curious pattern during Mr. Rove's time in Texas: 'In election years, there always seemed to be an F.B.I. investigation of some sitting Democrat either announced or leaked to the press. After the election was over, the allegations often vanished.'
And with this news, I finally have an observation to add. Back when Bush had the opportunity to appoint a replacement for Rehnquist and later O'Connor, some thought he might select his old friend from Texas. But now we see why that was never in the cards. Bush had his man on the inside. Gonzales was far more valuable to him as a judicial bagman than a court appointee. Recall that before this flap, two of the hits on Bush's top ten crime list have Gonzales' fingerprints on them: blowing off the FISA courts to spying on Americans and torturing suspected terrorists, an act based onGonzales' "torture memo."
It's no wonder Bush ushered John Ashcroft out the door. While his first AG was an evangelical and huge supporter, he was apparently independent. Gonzales was not. But in the end, we may have gotten lucky--at least Gonzales can be fired (and may be on his way); had he become a Supreme Court justice, we'd have him around another forty years.