Thursday, November 11, 2004

It's sort of pathetic. With stridently religious and rights-stripping Ashcroft now out the door, I feel relieved. However, with the announcement of Alberto Gonzales as his replacement, my initial reaction was "OK, he's not the best choice, he authored the infamous memo that was linked to the Abu Ghraib atrocities and he's been a strong backer of the extremely flawed Patriot Act, but he just CAN'T be worse than Ashcroft!"

The fact is nearly anyone Bush chose would've looked moderate in comparison to the guy exiting. In that respect, many may get duped into giving Gonzales a pass rather than putting him through the grilling he deserves. Yet, if this is a pathetic attempt by GW to offer up someone he at least believes to be less divisive than Ashcroft, well I don't know how to react. On the one hand, he could've nominated another person who was more moderate and also more deserving, but perhaps in his own shallow, delusional way he is trying to install someone who he at least believes to be less of a lightening rod. Perhaps.

My initial reaction here reminds me a bit of when he "won" in 2000. I didn't know quite what to make of things. Obviously, I was disappointed and frustrated that Gore got screwed, but once realizing GW was to be dealt with, I actually thought there at least was the chance he could be a moderate president. His father wasn't exactly off-the-charts to the right, and then there was all that talk about being a uniter and not a divider.

The first sign to me that all of that was bunk and we were in for four years of extremism and hardcore right-wing partisanship was when GW nominated Ashcroft for AG. With this recent nomination, I find myself wanting to think he might actually work to crank it down a bit in the next four years. I know it's likely folly, and if anything things will get worse, not better, but unlike most of the screwy right-wingers who read this blog who refuse to give anyone a break on the other side, I'm willing to allow for the possibility of this happening.

To me, the real key will come in how he handles the environment. For the last four years, under the radar, legislation on this front has been weakened on a massive scale. Industry lobbyists have been installed in positions of governmental power to reward their former employers. Let's see if GW does anything in this lower-profile yet enormously important area to show that he'd like to change. I'll be watching -- closely.

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