Tuesday, June 12, 2007

'No Confidence' Vote Fizzles

Back in April, when the entire liberal blogosphere was united in predicting Alberto Gonzales' imminent departure from his position of Attorney General, readers here found the following confident prediction:

During Attorney General Gonzales' "reconfirmation hearing" yesterday, the beleaguered chief law enforcement officer of the nation committed no errors grievous enough to force President Bush to send him packing.

His answers were at times in variance with the known facts. But that probably won't bother his boss.

His job looks safe, considering his long friendship with the president. At least until any new evidence surfaces in the U.S. attorney dismissal scandal.

Since then, there has been additional evidence of wrongdoing in the U.S. Attorney scandal. And -- while antagonizing lawmakers on both sides of the aisle -- Gonzales still retains the full support of the only person who counts.

Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales survived a climactic no-confidence vote in the Senate Monday, and with the support of the White House appeared to have weathered a months-long storm of criticism and investigation that once imperiled his tenure at the Justice Department.

Most Republicans, even those who had been critical of Gonzales, closed ranks, and Democrats fell well short of winning the votes necessary to move forward with a resolution declaring that the Senate and the "American people" had lost confidence in the embattled attorney general. Senate Democrats' attempt to bring up the resolution got 53 of the 60 votes needed to end unlimited debate.

Democrats vowed to continue their investigation into whether Gonzales, in tandem with the White House, had politicized hiring decisions and various investigations at the Justice Department in ways that would boost Republicans. There were signs that Democrats were on the verge of taking that investigation to a new level, possibly by issuing subpoenas to the White House for documents and testimony of such figures as political operative Karl Rove.

But the no-confidence vote suggests that the Democrats do not have the political might to force the issue.

Gonzales had already won a vote of confidence from President Bush weeks ago. "There is only one vote that matters, and he's got it," said Charles Black, a Republican political consultant with ties to the White House.

Supporters of a similar resolution in the House said they feared that, after the Senate vote, the House leadership would table the measure without voting on it.

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