Elsewhere on TIME.com, my colleague Adam Zagorin writes that an influential group of conservatives is now demanding that the AG go. Pertinent quotes from their letter assert: “Mr. Gonzales has presided over an unprecedented crippling of the Constitution’s time-honored checks and balances. He has brought rule of law into disrepute, and debased honesty as the coin of the realm. … He has engendered the suspicion that partisan politics trumps evenhanded law enforcement in the Department of Justice.”
Among those who have signed the letter, Zagorin reports, are Bruce Fein, a former senior official in the Reagan Justice Department, who has worked frequently with current Administration and the Republican National Committee to promote Bush’s court nominees; David Keene, chairman of the influential American Conservative Union, one of the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots conservative groups, Richard Viguerie, a well-known GOP direct mail expert and fundraiser, Bob Barr, the former Republican congressman from Georgia and free speech advocate, as well as John Whitehead, head of the Rutherford Institute, a conservative non-profit* active in fighting for what it calls religious freedoms.
Why would the President’s allies be so emboldened? Adam also notes:
Conservatives have long distrusted Gonzales, but until now many hesitated to criticize him publicly in the current controversy out of** respect for the broad latitude they believe a President should have in selecting his cabinet. Behind the scenes, however, their opposition helped dissuade Bush from nominating Gonzales to the Supreme Court and, over the years, they have regularly disparaged him as too soft on key issues such as affirmative action and abortion. But as the President’s popularity and political clout continue to decline, the group’s assault on the Attorney General is designed to rally a growing number of Republicans who seem to hope that Gonzales will finally step aside. His testimony, however, gives no indication that he intends to do so.
It is getting harder and harder to see how Gonzales digs himself out of this, particularly with what we’ve seen of his upcoming testimony.
*Typo fixed. Thanks, commenter Crust.
**Ditto, commenter Anonymous. (I need to figure out how to do that cool strikethrough thing that Ana does in her posts. Right after I learn how to post pictures.)