Amazing as it seems, there was a time not so long ago, when people were talking about a very different potential first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice: Alberto Gonzales. That never came to pass, of course. But it hasn’t stopped Gonzo from using the Sotomayor nomination to get himself back in the media spotlight, making the rounds on cable news to discuss the historic moment.
Still, we can’t help but feel there’s a longer-term agenda behind the ex-AG’s recent media tour. Call it the self-rehabilitation of Alberto Gonzales.As we noted, Gonzo talked Sotomayor yesterday with Wolf Blitzer on CNN. But he also took time, in response to Blitzer’s questioning, to defend his record on torture. He declared, “I did my best to defend our country,” and seemed eager to make clear that he was still at the White House, not the Justice Department, when DOJ signed off on those “harsh interrogation techniques.”
Then this morning, Gonzo was playing the wise elder statesman on Fox and Friends, saying that he gets “no pleasure” from seeing President Obama struggle with the issue of closing down Guantanamo, since he saw President Bush similarly struggle.
It’s noticeable that Gonzo isn’t following the Cheney model in his appearances: staking out a role as an aggressive, no-apologies defender of the Bush administration. But nor is he offering even faint criticism of any of his former colleagues, or suggesting that he’s rethought any past positions.
Instead, he’s just kind of … there — apparently in an effort to establish a presence as a respectable and respected former public official, whose views might be solicited on the issues of the day. And, in so doing, to shed his image as a dim-witted Bush crony under whose “leadership” a major government department ran aground.
Could Gonzo also have more banal motives? When we heard from him recently, he was blaming the slow economy for his struggle to find a job. And it sounds like that struggle continues. We asked Robert Bork Jr., who serves as a spokesman for Gonzo, whether the ex-AG had found employment yet. “He’s pretty busy doing a number of different things,” Bork told us.
Late update: Bork adds a bit more in an email: “Judge Gonzales is busy with legal work, writing, speaking and media commentary.”
What sort of legal work? We’ll let you know what we hear.