Last month, I wrote about Alberto Gonzales, Bush's nomination to replace John Ashcroft as Attorney General, and Gonzales's Record of Injustice. If you missed it, read up!
The Senate Judiciary Committee begins its hearings tomorrow on Gonzales's nomination. Word is that the Republicans are so confident that the GOP-led Senate will vote to confirm Gonzales as the next attorney general, they they are not even planning to have Gonzales's supporters testify on his behalf. It's a slam-dunk, right? Meanwhile, religious leaders, "liberal-interest groups," and at least a dozen retired generals and admirals, including Army Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Clinton, have expressed "deep concern" about Gonzales's nomination, and are urging Senators to question Gonzales aggressively about his views on torture and the Geneva Convention. Wonkette (of course) also has an update on emerging concerns over Gonzales. Gonzales's nomination is also strongly opposed by People for the American Way, which notes:
[A]s more of [Gonzales's] record becomes clear, what PFAW’s review reveals is a lawyer who too often allows his legal judgment to be driven by his close relationship with the President rather than adherence to the law or the Constitution. The risk that such lack of independence poses for his ability as Attorney General to be the lawyer for all of the people of this country is simply too great to warrant his confirmation.
The Attorney General is not the lawyer for any particular President or Administration, but is the lawyer for all the people of the United States.
And, in what has to be the biggest case of "Flip-Flopping" I have ever read, Gonzales is now "promising senators that he will abide by treaties prohibiting the torture of prisoners, despite deriding the restraints as relics [and calling the Geneva Conventions "quaint"] in 2002." Oh, you mean, if we give you this big fat bone, you will obey international law ? Oh, how nice for us and the world ~ how, well, quaint. And look, "Al," if you're going to assert some stance on an issue (however ill-conceived your "interpretation" of the law might be), um, stand by your words, hombre. Or better yet, admit you were wrong. Don't make some meek promise to get your reward. Does the GOP keep your cojones in a safe in the Oval Office?1 Ai, que lastima.
I stand firm in my belief that Gonzales is bad for Latinos and bad for the Country. If you don't think so, then you have not reviewed his record of injustice. Based on his clear record of big-money pandering and his "former" views on war and torture, I don't trust Gonzales to respect our civil liberties, much less those of non-U.S. (i.e., "global") citizens. Remember Former President Jimmy Carter's speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention:
Today, our dominant international challenge is to restore the greatness of America, based on telling the truth, a commitment to peace, and respect for civil liberties at home and basic human rights around the world. Truth is the foundation of our global leadership, but our credibility has been shattered and we are left increasingly isolated and vulnerable in a hostile world. Without truth, without trust, America cannot flourish. Trust is at the very heart of our democracy, the sacred covenant between a president and the people. When that trust is violated, the bonds that hold our republic together begin to weaken.
In repudiating extremism, we need to recommit ourselves to a few common-sense principles that should transcend partisan differences. First, we cannot enhance our own security if we place in jeopardy what is most precious to us, namely the centrality of human rights in our daily lives and in global affairs. Second, we cannot maintain our historic self-confidence as a people if we generate public panic. Third, we cannot do our duty as citizens and patriots if we pursue an agenda that polarizes and divides our country. Next, we cannot be true to ourselves if we mistreat others. And finally, in the world at large, we cannot lead if our leaders mislead.
We should really pay attention here. Gonzales does not come close to this "ideal" (and that's all it is, right? Some fantasy, some unattainable "ideal" ~ because look at what were stuck with....) The myopic view that a Latino, any damn Latino, in a high-ranking government position "puts us at the table" is not only dead-wrong, but damaging to what strides we have made. If you are Latino/a and you can seriously say: "Yes, I have read Gonzales's judicial opinions (although his record is slim ~ he doesn't have much of a paper trail), and I understand that Texas executed more prisoners than any other state during Gonzales's tenure as Chief Legal Counsel for then-Governor Bush, and, yes, I see that he accepted money from Halliburton while he was Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court and then the Court consistently ruled in Halliburton's favor, and, yep, I read the Memos "redefining torture," and, well, ándale, I think he's a fine candidate for Attorney General por que, pués, well, he's Latino." Listen to yourself ~ you don't really believe that do you?
Latinos who blindly stand behind Gonzales (which is, um, where you'll stay unless you're a rich guy who hangs out with the GOP) have lost sight of more than our future ~ they have forgotten our past and our present. Believe me, I know plenty of brilliant, talented, judicious Latinas/os, including some from "high ranking government positions," and we could have done a lot better than Gonzales. Supporting his nomination (again, given his clear record of injustices) tells the world that this is the best we think we can do ~ Latino or not, we set that bar pretty damn low. Well, plenty of things the Bush Administration has done have been "not in my name," and this is one of them.
A Latina who does speak for me is Maria Blanco, an attorney and the Executive Director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. who put it quite forcefully:
So I must say, "Not in my name," to Bush [on Gonzales's nomination].
Latinos are not so overwhelmingly absorbed in having a top-level Latino member of the president's Cabinet as to overlook a record that consistently substitutes expediency for human rights and due process, especially on issues that have a drastic impact on Latinos, immigrants and the poor.
It is condescending to Latinos to assume that appearance is more important to us than policy or that Latinos are unable to distinguish the two.
So now what? Siguë la lucha ? Viva la Raza ? Ai, whatever. I'm gonna log off now to go watch West Wing ~ they want Jimmy Smits to run for President. ~ :)
1.Ai, apologies to my parents for my language tonight, but this Gonzales issue really gets to me!