So you've probably heard that Alberto Gonzales has resigned. This is good news for many reasons. Of course, the immediate question comes up: why haven't I gotten a cup of coffee yet this morning? There is no good answer to this question and I'll resolve the issue shortly (it will also probably involve an English muffin or perhaps a bagel).
OK, I have coffee. I skipped the bread products because I didn't have time to run over to the cafeteria. I am a working man, after all.
So now. The second question that comes up right after that is that of who will replace Gonzales. Michael Chertoff has had his name bandied about even while Gonzales was swearing up and down that he couldn't leave because he had to stay and protect the children. This rumor was probably instigated by the administration to build up some momentum for his hearings and confirmation. This is a real stand-up moment for the Dems. I was super disappointed and infuriated by the passage of the recent surveillance laws. I mean, I've defended some Dem moves in the past for technical and political reasons, but there was no defense for that one. Likewise, if the Senate caves and approves yet another apparatchik, that's another huge strike against the Dem leadership.
This is an extraordinary opportunity to get in someone who will operate independently, not in the thrall of the administration. If they don't take that opportunity and fold on some political grounds, I'll be prepared to admit defeat and that the Dem leadership sucks. The fact is that getting someone in there with some backbone and independence would provide much greater political opportunity down the line, with ease of prosecution of administration misdeeds, more aggressive monitoring of administration programs, etc.
Even more importantly than that, it should begin to restore some of the faith and credibility in the legal system that has been defenestrated by Gonzo and his Gepetto.