The Short List

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Maybe I’m pessimistic, but I doubt most Americans see US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ resignation as a chance to abolish the Department of Justice (DOJ) over which he reigns. Politicians and pundits love the hopelessly corrupt and oppressive DOJ; the few citizens who notice its existence imagine we need it, given its Orwellian name.

Meanwhile, the media blames the man, not the anti-constitutional DOJ. There’s nothing wrong with this bureaucracy that Gonzo’s departure can’t fix — provided his replacement is that mythical creature sought since Plato: the dedicated, wise, and honest public servant. Additionally, "he or she must get to the bottom of the scandals hovering over the department," the New York Times decreed. Ergo, "he or she" will "not come out of the world of electoral politics or the White House, and is not a u2018loyal Bushie.’" We’ll presume the Times meant to add, "She will also curb her enthusiasm for incinerating Americans in their homes and kidnapping little boys at gunpoint," lest Florida’s Gorgon rise from her lair.

And so the pressure mounts for Bush to appoint just the right Attorney General. But the president’s a busy man, what with shredding the Constitution and goose-stepping this republic in directions it’s never gone before. He hasn’t the time to winnow a single sycophantic, lying thug from among the thousands comprising the Republican Party’s leadership. That emboldens this lowly but patriotic serf to suggest a nominee: the Pillsbury Doughboy.

With a face full as the moon and twice as empty, Poppin’ Fresh bears a startling resemblance to the departing Gonzo. It’s a natural substitution, one most folks outside DC probably won’t notice. If the president hustles, he could have the little guy installed before anyone misses Gonzo. The switch may even bamboozle reporters and Representatives, since the Doughboy’s stare is as vacuous as Gonzo’s when testifying before Congress. Poppin’ Fresh only needs to lose the chef’s hat to make this the smoothest transition ever.

Gonzo was a pro at whitewashing torture, but the Doughboy may be even more useful. Quite possibly he’ll combine Gonzo’s talents with those of the legendary Donald Rumsfeld. The latter wondered why Gitmo’s guards forced detainees to stand a mere four hours when Defense Secretaries stand "for 8—10 hours a day"; meanwhile, Poppin’ Fresh chuckles when poked. Apologists for "alternative interrogation techniques" can suggest that if the Doughboy smilingly absorbs a blow to the gut, so should the wimps at Guantanamo. After all, we’re quizzing criminals down there, not contenders in the Pillsbury Bake-Off. Rumsfeld’s logic also allows Our Masters to resurrect "ordeal by fire" once Poppin’ Fresh heads up the DOJ: he may brown at high temperatures, but he survives. Should we expect any less from the hardened terrorists at Gitmo?

No one’s perfect, and my nominee has a few flaws. On that sad day when "unfair treatment" drives him from office, his resignation speech won’t begin to match Gonzo’s. The only "remarkable journey" about which Poppin’ Fresh can crow took him from an artist’s studio to the national airwaves on Pillsbury’s dime, not the taxpayers’. And our Doughboy would probably giggle through such servile pap as "Public service is honorable and noble, and I am profoundly grateful to President Bush for his friendship and for the many opportunities he has given me to serve the American people." Even a dummie with dough for brains realizes it’s neither a "service" nor "honorable and noble" to push the Military Commissions Act through Congress, deny the Constitution’s clear guarantee of habeas corpus, and abet the president’s warrantless eavesdropping.

To our shame, Gonzo’s "worst days as Attorney General" were "better than my father’s best" ones as a construction worker. Why didn’t we give this goon a more hellish time than Papa ever imagined for pooh-poohing the Geneva Convention’s prohibition of torture? Why didn’t we hound him out of the country when he cheered the PATRIOT Act’s suppression of our freedom? No wonder he’s contemptuous of us: he has "great admiration and respect" for his fellow leeches, "the men and women who work [sic] here" at the DOJ, but he doesn’t so much as mention the taxpayers who’ve supported him and his family since 1994. "…[T]oday I want to again thank [the leeches] for their service to our nation. It is through their continued work that our country and our communities remain safe, that the rights and civil liberties of our citizens are protected and the hopes and dreams of all of our children are secured." Bull. Their "continued work" endangers our country and communities with its dictatorial meddling, destroys the rights and civil liberties of any hapless entrepreneur at which the DOJ aims its guns, and degrades the hopes and dreams of all our children into a nightmare of Federal compliance.

The president’s "statement" accepting Gonzo’s resignation was equally offensive. Even Poppin’ Fresh isn’t silly enough to swallow such swill: "It’s sad that we live in a time when a talented and honorable person like Alberto Gonzales is impeded from doing important work because his good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons." Yeah, and it’s sad we live in a time when water’s wet. What else does politics do but drag people through the mud, savaging, humiliating, and defeating them, until they are powerless putty in the conqueror’s hands? That’s why decent people don’t go near those killing fields, Ron Paul being the exception that proves the rule.

"Al Gonzales is a man of integrity, decency and principle," Bush blustered. Oh, right. And I’m the Pillsbury Doughboy.

Becky Akers [send her mail] writes primarily about the American Revolution.

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