Job Description: Lighting Rod

by digby

Greg Palast, who has been writing about the "voter fraud" fraud for years, writes an interesting piece today arguing that Gonzales is irrelevant to the deeper problem within the DOJ with respect to voting rights.

I was struck particularly by this:

We’ve been here before. Gonzales is getting Libby’d. Takes the bullet for Karl Rove and the White House. If you wondered why the Republican jackals like the sinister Senator Specter piled on Gonzales — it’s because they were told to.

These guys learned from Richard Nixon. In 1973, when Nixon was getting hammered over Watergate, he threw the Senate Committee his Attorney General, a schmuck named Richard Kleindienst. Famously, Nixon’s own Rove, a devious creep named John Erlichman, told Nixon to leave the Attorney General, “twisting slowly in the wind.”

Rove and Bush are doing the Nixon Twist on Gonzales.

I think so too. When someone like Jeff Sessions is tearing into Gonzales, then you can bet money it's a political strategy. That guy has never gone against the wingnut grain in his life.

When I read Palast's piece it immediately reminded me of a Bush quote that I've always found to be illuminating:

During a trip to West Point on June 1, Bush pulled White aside for a private talk. "As long as they're hitting you on Enron, they're not hitting me," said Bush, according to this Army official. "That's your job. You're the lightning rod for this administration."

For all his faults, one of the hoariest myths about Bush that persists to this day is that he is loyal to a fault --- one of those backhanded criticisms that actually makes him somewhat sympathetic. It's nonsense. Bush uses people like kleenex, always has. He keeps people like Rummy and Gonzales around long after any other president would have because they serve a purpose ---- reinforcing the idea that he is not personally responsible for anything that's happened.

In this case, Gonzales keeps the eye off of Rove, Bush's brain (and conscience.) The longer they leave him out there as degree of separation between the corruption of the DOJ and the white house, he serves his purpose. That's why he hasn't resigned and why Bush hasn't asked for it. He's doing his job.

Update: Here was the the dog that didn't bite during the Libby trial:

Wells contended, it was Rove—the political strategist—who had to be protected at all costs. He was, Wells said, “the lifeblood of the Republican Party” and the man George W. Bush absolutely needed for the coming re-election campaign. Indeed, after [then-press secretary Scott] McClellan issued a public statement exonerating Rove of any involvement in the leak (a statement that turned out three years later to be false), Cheney and Libby huddled about the matter. McClellan had cleared Rove but at that point had said nothing about Libby, leaving the implication that Libby had leaked but Rove hadn’t. Cheney personally wrote a note, an excerpt of which Wells read to the jury and highlighted by displaying on an audio-visual machine during his opening statement: “Not going to protect one staffer and sacrifice the guy that was asked to stick his neck in the meat grinder because of the incompetence of others,” Cheney’s note read.

The translation, according to Wells: The vice president was not going to allow Karl Rove to be protected and Libby to be sacrificed…

The Libby defense ultimately didn't go there for reasons nobody understands. But it does track nicely with the old "lightning rod" theory of governance, doesn't it? Gonzales is getting the Libby treatment. I wonder how much he likes it.