Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Even Tom Has a Monica Problem

Friends and regular readers (all two of you) know that I have very little respect for New York Times punditmeister Thomas Friedman. He's been such an unabashed cheerleader for globalization and the possible good impacts of the Iraq War, he simply bashed all Seattle WTO protesters as stupid hippies, and regularly made fun of those who opposed the war before it started. Tom's been morphing slowly into an Iraq War critic, hardly surprising since he resembles that strange bird of the 1960s known as the Cold War (Pseudo)Liberal. In the May 16 NYT, Tom did a great column bringing together three threads: evangelism in government, problems in Paul Bremer's de-Baathification strategy, and the collapse of the Justice Department under the ethically-challenged Alberto Gonzales.
The centerpiece of the Bush administration "problem," as Friedman sees it, is exemplified by former Gonzales underling Monica Goodling (pictured above). Goodling, one of the first to leave Justice after the U.S. prosecutor scandal began, supposedly ran a regular vetting operation for Gonzales in which she weeded out potential Democrats and insufficiently-Christian candidates from the U.S. attorney stable. As Friedman says, the similarities to the 2003-4 efforts to purge the Iraqi government of Baathists is only too clear.

On the one hand, I see a useful purpose in continuing to hound Goodling even after she has left the White House, since she exemplifies everything that is wrong with the way the Bush cabinet works. But let's not lose sight of two bigger goals: First, Paul Bremer, though long out of office, should be excoriated with equal fervor for the nasty way he ran the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. Second and more important, Monica's former boss is still in office, and Bush is implying that, unlike the type of soft exit that might be envisioned for Paul Wolfowitz, the president will not let go of Alberto Gonzales unless and until he is impeached. With all the evidence of criminal behavior before them, capped off by recent revelations of forcing an NSA monitoring program on a very sick John Ashcroft, members of Congress have plenty of ammunition to justify taking Gonzales out of the Justice Department and into a prison cell.

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