Based on the reviews from the blogosphere, the Dems on the Committee did a pretty good job (except for Kennedy, from what I've seen) in the hearings and landed some blows on Gonzales. I did not watch any news or read very many news accounts of the hearings, so I cannot say how the media is playing things. I should point out, that part of the theater of the hearings would mean the Dems would make some good arguments and get some good soundbites off, the "spectacular failure" would come in the form of mised opportunities and the ultimate portrayal of the hearings by the press as well as how much the Republicans would shepherd Gonzales through the hearing.
Crooks and Liars has several video clips, including the fiasco of not swearing Gonzales in here (it's not exactly compelling TV, but Specter really comes off badly, and it's nice to see the Republicans forced to vote by roll call NOT to swear the witness). The clip worth watching is Leahy's opening statement—about 95% very forceful and effective. He wanders a bit at the very end, but really got off some good stuff. And don't miss Gonzalez claiming Washington and Lincoln engaged in electronic surveillance.
For an excellent Cliff's Notes version of the hearings see the 5-part synopsis at firedoglake.com. It really doesn't matter if you read them in order...
But the performance of the day goes to Glenn Greenwald on CSPAN this morning. This should be required viewing for any Democrat likely to face a question on or chance to explain this NSA situation. In two minutes he deftly turns an absolute wingnut caller's question and effectively uses it to make just about every possible case against this spying program. Seriously—the call is probably straight out of a Dem handler's worst-case scenario handbook, and Greenwald absolutely mops the floor with the caller and his "conservative" counterweight.