Count on Bush...

... to do exactly the wrong thing, both for the country and himself. According to the Evans-Novak Political Report, Bush is apparently standing by Al Gonzales against all reason and common sense. Here's their analysis:

Gonzales: President Bush gave several signs Tuesday that he really does intend to keep Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales in office. This is bad news for Republicans.

  1. Bush released an unusual statement praising Gonzales "for taking on this difficult and important assignment" in co-chairing a minor task force. His improbable praise for Gonzales's pathetic performance as a witness before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week was another sign. The authoritative word from the White House was that Bush was adamant about retaining Gonzales as attorney general despite Republican demands that Bush cut his losses and find someone new.
  2. Vice President Dick Cheney's verbal joust Tuesday with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) suggested that the continued defense of Gonzales is not an isolated act of defiance (see below). Bush, never enamored of life in Washington , detests dealing with a Democratic Congress. Reflecting annoyance and fatigue, he is unwilling to withstand incessant attacks from the likes of Reid and is ready to fight it out for the year and a half left in his term.
  3. Republicans in Congress view this posture by Bush as pure folly. For the long term, they see their President's intent to wage constant warfare against the majority Democrats, and from such a weak position, as casting a pall on Republican chances of retaining the presidency in 2008. For the shorter term, they foresee nothing but trouble from Gonzales's continuing to stay in office. House GOP leaders and members do not shy away from noting that Gonzales has no Republican support on Capitol Hill.
  4. Gonzales's difficulties did not begin with the botched dismissal of U.S. attorneys or his serial memory failure in last week's testimony. Much as Bill Clinton sought to replicate in Washington the culture of Little Rock by bringing along Vince Foster and Webster Hubbell, Bush imported such close associates from Austin as Gonzales and Harriet Miers. The results have not been pretty. Gonzales and others in this group demonstrate an ability to turn mere incompetence into the appearance of impropriety.
  5. While the current cliché is that Bush never should have named Gonzales as attorney general in the first place, the consensus in the administration was that he was already at sea in his first post as White House counsel. Colin Powell, Bush's first-term secretary of State, was so appalled by Gonzales that he would shunt him off to Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage, who in turn handed him down to lower levels along the State Department chain of command.
  6. Bush writes off this derision of Gonzales as part of Washington 's arrogance, and he seems determined not to appease that mindset. For now at least, the President refuses to yield, on the grounds that Gonzales -- whatever his shortcomings -- broke no laws.
  7. Bush's position, however, may be undermined by an unexpected development this week. It was announced that a little-known government agency -- the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), headed by Scott J. Bloch -- has launched an investigation into possible illegal White House political participation in the case of the U.S. attorneys. (More on this below.)
  8. The irony here was not noted in early news accounts. Bloch, a devout Catholic, has been under fierce attack for three years in leading the independent investigative agency because of his interpretation of statutes covering worker protection of sexual orientation. He also has been publicly accused of hiring too many Catholics. Clay Johnson, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget and another Texan brought to Washington by Bush, joined the attack on Bloch. The case became a cause célèbre on the right when Bloch was told by a prominent Catholic layman close to Bush that it would be better if he just resigned.
  9. Now the tables are turned, with Bloch investigating the White House. In an administration in trouble on several fronts, the President's barricading himself with Al Gonzales by his side does not help.

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