I had a hope, a remote one I admit, that George W. Bush might approach his second term in a more principled and courageous manner. As he cannot run again, I thought he might at least rise above pandering to special groups. Unfortunately, his first few weeks after re-election are probably a preview of coming attractions. More pandering.
I understand that we live in a time when a president risks incurring the wrath of media, academia and the entertainment field if he picks cabinet appointees based solely on their experience and competence, as was done in the past. Today’s appointees must, in the words of Bill Clinton, “look like America.” In others words they must conform to quotas. Early indications are that Bush will be obedient to the rainbow cabinet dictate.
From his corral of sycophants, Bush has already lassoed a couple of docile rainbow appointees. His pick for Secretary of State is the submissive Condoleezza Rice, a female and the first female black American to hold the office.
For Attorney General, Bush has selected Alberto Gonzales, an Hispanic, probably hoping to curry favor with America’s large group of Hispanic voters.
But, in choosing Gonzales as the nations primary law enforcement officer, Bush may be making the worst decision of his career. In fact, if the Senate refuses to confirm Gonzales, it will be doing Bush a favor. Alberto Gonzales was, in essence, Bush’s ‘yes-man’ on the Texas Supreme Court when W was Governor of that state. Therefore, Bush cannot claim that he didn’t know how Gonzales would conduct the affairs of the Justice Department.
Alberto Gonzales has the enthusiastic endorsement of The National Council of La Raza; a Latino advocacy group and the Hispanic counterpart to the NAACP. Indeed, Gonzales served on the board of directors of the NCLR’s oldest affiliate, the Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans. The motto of the NCLR reads: “For those within the race everything, for those outside the race, nothing.” This organization is pressuring states to offer in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens — a benefit not even available to out-of-state U.S. citizens. The organization is also lobbying for legislation for amnesty for illegal immigrants, the prevention of enforcement of immigration laws by state and local police, as well as driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.
In its endorsement of Gonzales, the NCLR stated: “We are very encouraged by the Gonzales nomination. During his tenure as White House counsel, he has been one of the most accessible members of the White House, and we have every expectation that his nomination will be very well received in the Latino community.”
Gonzales supported the Administration’s policy of indefinitely detaining so-called “enemy combatants” without access to lawyers. As a member of the Texas Supreme Court, Gonzales held that a 17-year-old girl did not have to obtain parental consent in order to obtain an abortion. Although these incidents give you insight into the legal mind of Gonzales, I want to briefly relate an episode that was particularly odious to me, and says a lot about our President and his Attorney General nominee.
This incident had its beginning after then Texas Governor George W. Bush decided to run for president in the 2000 election. The Texas NAACP saw this as an opportune time to exact another concession from the state using as leverage the implied threat of embarrassing Bush’s presidential campaign. The Texas NAACP had a history of getting what it demanded from vulnerable office holders and office seekers. In 1973, the organization was able to coerce the State of Texas to eliminate two holidays — Robert E. Lee’s birthday (January 19) and Jefferson Davis’ birthday (June 3). The two deleted holidays were combined into one — Confederate Heroes Day to be celebrated on January 19. Next, the State designated the 3rd Monday in January as Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
In 2000, the NAACP’s target was two small plaques on the outside of the Texas Supreme Court. One contained a replica of the Confederate Battle flag and a brief quote form Robert E. Lee praising Texans who fought for the Confederacy. The other plaque contained the official Confederate seal and a dedication to “Texans who served the Confederacy.” The plaques were relatively inconspicuous and had not attracted any notice until Governor Bush decided to run for president.
The removal campaign began with a letter from the president of the Texas NAACP demanding the elimination of the two small plaques. The letter refers to the issue as “a matter of major importance” and said of the Confederate flag: “It is immoral, given its connection to slavery, and more recently, neo-nazi and other hate groups” and “We should not be so shortsighted to pass it off as merely a valued symbol associated with someone’s heritage.”
Governor Bush’s Executive Assistant responded to the NAACP’s letter, hoping that his reasoned explanation would placate the organization. He said: “These symbols and emblems reflect the history and diversity that make Texas unique.” Then he presented a brief background on the plaques.
“The small plaque outside the Supreme Court you mentioned is not an official State symbol. As you may know, the people of Texas overwhelmingly supported a constitutional amendment in 1954 to transfer the Confederate Pension Fund to the State Building Fund for the purpose of constructing a Courts Building. The 1955 Legislature then passed enabling legislation to reflect the will of the people. The law in part stipulated that the building should be designated as a memorial to Texans who served in the Armed Services of the Confederate States of America and that a suitable cornerstone or plaque should be integrated into the construction of the building for this memorial purpose.”
But, trying to reason with the NAACP is like trying to undo a knot with one hand. Knowing it held the winning cards as a result of its earlier victories, the NAACP ignored the response from the Governor’s office and decided to do what it does best; engage in civic disobedience. It voted to hold a rally at the state Capitol to protest the two plaques on the Supreme Court building.
Now get this: While these events were taking place, a clandestine plan to remove the plaques was already being coordinated by a clique including Texas Supreme Court Justice Al Gonzales with the blessing of Governor Bush. Two replacement plaques were ordered, containing language that was negotiated with the NAACP behind closed doors. These two plaques were the same size as the offending plaques so they could be easily exchanged. Then, on a weekend when the Court was closed, the plaques were quietly swapped. The proposed swap was not discussed with Confederate groups. They only learned of it shortly before it took place. The general public was not notified of the exchange either and obviously was not allowed to vote on it.
Gonzales replaced the plaque with the Robert E. Lee quote with one that read: “The courts of Texas are entrusted with providing equal justice under the law to all persons regardless of race, creed or color.” This incredibly bland statement would make even the writers of grade school text books blush but it satisfied the NAACP. As a replacement for the plaque that bore the Confederate Seal, Gonzales approved language that was as close to an apology as possible: “Because this building was built with monies from the Confederate Pension Fund, it was, at that time, designated as a memorial to the Texans who served the Confederacy.” Can you imagine a commemorative plaque containing such a tone of repentance? Why didn’t Gonzales add: “Please forgive us!” ?
When this furtive exchange finally came to light, the Governor’s office raced to justify its cowardly cave-in to the NAACP by stating that the switch was to “help assure all Texans that our courts provide fair and impartial justice.” Did a majority of Texans think that their courts did not try to be fair and impartial? Even more to the point, were George Bush and Al Gonzales not aware of the dwindling support for the NAACP by the state’s blacks? — Or were they only concerned about how the national media might spin the plaque incident in order to impede Bush’s presidential campaign?
While Alberto Gonzales was covertly arranging for the plaques to be switched, the president of the Texas NAACP accused the Texas Supreme Court of being “tainted.” The gonadless Gonzales made no attempt to defend the Court, but simply continued the sneaky underground plan to switch the plaques without the public’s knowledge. The ever-loyal Gonzales made the swap while Mr. Bush was out of the state campaigning for president.
So this is Alberto Gonzales; the man that George W. Bush, the Lone Star Lilliputian, wants to take over the nation’s Justice Department. This is the man who made no attempt to defend two inconspicuous plaques that had been approved by the citizens of Texas and the man who did not stand up for his fellow Texas Supreme Court members after the Court was slandered by the NAACP. This is the man whose first knee-jerk reaction to a complaint from an activist group was to immediately capitulate. And this is the man who concealed the switch of voter- approved plaques from the public.
If Alberto Gonzales yielded so easily to the NAACP, can there be any doubt as to how he will react to demands from The National Council of La Raza?
I sincerely hope that our Senate will have the good sense to reject the Gonzales nomination. If it does not, we will be left wondering how many other back room deals Al Gonzales will cut “under cover of dark.” We might find ourselves wishing for the return of Janet Reno.
Gail Jarvis [send him mail], a CPA living in Beaufort, SC, is an advocate of the voluntary union of states established by the founders.