Yeah, I've been out of the loop for a few days, so I have some studying up to do on Gonzales. There plenty of reasons why he is a bad appointment for AG (or anything else). Going back to his days with Bush in Texas preparing the Execution "Cliff Notes" for Governor Fucking Lazy Ass, or his job as lawyer representing Enron. Neither of which are strong qualifications in my book. Let's not forget the right-off-the-bat conflict of interest of the President's lawyer now heading up the White House / Valerie Plame investigation...or Lieberman's Enron probe. The Justice Department will play a big role in those matters, and the democrats need to ask him on the record in confirmation hearings how he'll handle them as AG.
We all knew Bush had bigger plans for Alberto Gonzales. He's been loyal, and in this Administration that matters more than any possible qualification or accomplishment. He's a good story (migrant roots and all, plus the first Latino to this post or higher) and it will be tough for Dems to fight his eventual promotion. I can hear the Sunday morning race-baiting already...
But when it's all said and done, somehow I'm thinking we'll wish Bush saved Gonzales for a Supreme Court nomination instead...
UPDATE: Some places to read up on Gonzales: The Atlantic Monthly (subscribers only - which I am, but I need a mailing label to register. I'll do that and post some excerpts, if worthy), a 2002 profile in The New Republic which drives home the point that Gonzales would likely be a better SC Justice (think Souter) than WH counsel or AG. This Slate piece is full of links. Josh Marshall weighs in, Matt Yglesias counsels "Opposition, Not Obstruction" and Atrios agrees. So do I.
After reading all of the above, I'm still in the same spot. Bush was going to nominate/appoint Gonzales to something, and he's going to get confirmed.
Gonzales' track record indicates he does his best work (as well as independent and suprisingly moderate thinking) in a different branch of government than his benefactor. He was actually a pretty good Texas Supreme Court Justice (for a Republican in a state like Texas appointed by a guy like Bush). If he were to reach the Supreme Court and the safety of a lifetime appointment, I think he would turn out to be the best Justice we ever could have gotten out of Bush. I've read it somewhere that "Gonzales is spanish for Souter." His nomination to the Court would be a risk I'd happily take. Especially if we trade up from Renquist for a relative moderate like Gonzales. Instead, Gonzales will be "lost" at Justice, and we'll be treated to the much more idealogical Miguel Estrada (or worse) for the Supreme Court.
As White House Counsel and A.G., he will still answer to the President (and more importantly be subject to the religious right's pressure on the White House) and be a bad combination of Ashcroft and Gonzales' own incarnation as Bush's lawyer. That's unfortunate for Gonzales, who I'm sure would rather have the spot on the bench and be happier doing that job unencumbered, and for the country, which would be far better served with Gonzales on the Supreme Court than whoever is eventually nominated.