The Right Coast

July 18, 2005
Thank you, Stuart
By Tom Smith

Here's a novel thought. Let's not appoint to the Supreme Court a not particularly distinguished lawyer who stands out really only because he is the close pal of W. Mediocre (by Supreme Court standards) and pal of the Prez should not a Supreme make. Stuart Taylor spells it out.

[Gonzales] has not shown outstanding qualities of mind or heart. Some of us might prefer a pragmatic nominee without a fixed ideology -- if he or she had displayed deep understanding of the law, outstanding intelligence, independent judgment, fair- mindedness, and wisdom.

But Gonzales has not. He was a journeyman partner in a big Houston law firm before meeting Bush. His Texas Supreme Court opinions are pedestrian and undistinguished. His public statements mix prefabricated talking points with vacuous platitudes. By many accounts, he typically says little or nothing during internal debates and discussions among administration lawyers. Colleagues speak well of his character. But their praise of his abilities is, in most cases, rather faint.

Independent judgment? Bush, who prizes loyalty and bristles when challenged, has said that Gonzales gives him good advice. Might it just be that Gonzales tells Bush what Bush wants to hear? The next time Gonzales testifies on Capitol Hill, senators should ask: Have you ever advised your boss against doing something he wanted to do?