One thing you can say about Washington is that political courage rises in inverse proportion to the political strength of one's opponent. As Alberto Gonzales (a.k.a., the "walking cadaver") hemorrhages politically, everyone on the Hill is suddenly as fearless as a shark. Republicans say they never liked him, and Democrats (I presume this came from Democrats) give accounts such as this one, from Newsweek:
Recently, a trio of senatorsâSenate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy; Arlen Specter, the senior Republican on the committee, and Democrat Charles Schumerâsat down with Gonzales in his wood-paneled conference room to discuss the firings of the U.S. attorneys. Gonzales was initially combative and defensive. "Why do I have to prove anything to you?" he demanded at one point, according to a source who was in the room but does not wish to be identified revealing a private conversation. He insisted that only poor performers had been fired. "Everyone was in the bottom tier," he said. "Everyone?" asked Schumer. What about David Iglesias of New Mexico? (The department's internal evaluations had given Iglesias glowing marks.) Gonzales hesitated. "I believe so," he said, but he seemed uncertain. As the meeting was breaking up, Gonzales suddenly switched tacks and seemed to want to be cooperative. "How can we make this better?" he asked. "What can we do?" According to this source, the attorney general seemed to some in the room to be genuinely befuddled.
Gonzales is getting what he deserves, to be sure, but among his opponents there were far fewer profiles in courage before he was mortally wounded.