August 28th, 2007
09:10 AM ET
15 years ago

For Bush, one is the loneliest number

Gonzales resigned his post Monday.

(CNN) - For the second time in two weeks, a goodbye that hit home.

Alberto Gonzales is stepping down. Like Karl Rove, Gonzales has been at this president’s side dating back to his days as Texas governor. And like Rove, Gonzales had become a political piñata for an administration whose days are numbered.

Seventeen months left, and lame duck is a term that makes the president bristle. But Mr. Bush is a president defined by an unpopular war, and lacks the political muscle to see through his big-ticket domestic priorities.

At the State of the Union address in January, Bush pushed for domestic policy reform, saying, “With enough good sense and goodwill, you and I can fix Medicare and Medicaid - and save Social Security.”

Those State of the Union ideas went nowhere, and Mr. Bush also failed to make his 2001 tax cuts permanent or pass major immigration reforms. Now, the departures of old friends magnify this president’s increasingly lonely place.

His approval ratings are in the dumps, the effort to define a post-Bush Republican agenda is well underway, and the opposition Democrats run the Congress.

“The one saving grace is that the only group that is rated lower than the president right now is Congress,” says Neil Newhouse, a Republican pollster. “That doesn’t bode well for Democrats in Congress. Truthfully, their numbers are even lower than the president’s.”

Even most Republicans are dubious, but those close to Mr. Bush see a small window of opportunity, and to that end a housecleaning makes sense.

Say goodbye to political liabilities, even if it stings a bit, and move quickly to change the subject. For the president, that means fresh pressure on the Democrats to give his Iraq strategy more time.

“I congratulate Iraq's leaders on the agreement reached yesterday in Baghdad,” Bush told reporters on Monday during a stop in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Voicing confidence that Iraq’s brawling political factions might finally find a path to reconciliation is a huge gamble, yet trademark Bush.

"His hair is grayer, his wrinkles are deeper, but he still smiles, he stills sustains the impression of being at peace with himself and confident with the decisions he has made,” says Bruce Buchanan, a professor of government from the University of Texas.

Trademark too, were the departures of Rove and Gonzales after months of defiant White House promises that they would not bow to pressure from Democrats.

"On at least a number of occasions, he has stuck by people longer than it was in his interest to do so,” said Buchanan. “[I’m] thinking of Secretary Rumsfeld and, to a degree, Attorney General Gonzales. And yet that has been his modus operandi and he is going to stick with it."

His way, even as the job gets increasingly lonely.

- Chief National Correspondent John King

Filed under: Alberto Gonzales
soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. Jim T., Asheville. NC

    VEY WELL-PUT AND ACCURATE STORY...sad ending to a sad and dubious 8-year era for the U.S.

    August 28, 2007 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  2. elizabeth fenimore

    "The Utopian spin Bush uses for all things American is just too sickening for words. He actually believes the world's people are blind, deaf, and dumb."
    so true –
    I would take it a step further – remember the story of the Emporer's New Clothes?
    every American ought to ask themselves: "do we want leaders who will leave us hanging in the world without our clothes?" or will we begin to choose and hold responsible leaders who truly act in the best interest of the country, not just special interest groups or personal agendas?

    August 28, 2007 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  3. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    Minnie, Ruston, La,

    Someone from Louisiana supports Bush?
    You GOTTA be kidding? Isn't that like Michelle Malkin (an Asian) supporting internment camps? Or fetuses supporting abortion?

    "The shameful deomcrats have gotten rid of most of the good men in Bush's administration. Are they going to remember this when the same is done to them? Probably not!"

    Umm ... if those were the GOOD guys that we got rid of, then we better get rid of the REST of em quick!

    August 28, 2007 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  4. Joseph Herpers, Clarkston, MI

    Impeachment seems to be the only way we can stop Cheney/Bush, in order of their power here, to stop destroying the fabric of our country and the Constitution itself. The resiegners should still be brought to justice for their crimes!

    August 28, 2007 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  5. Jeff Middletown, NJ

    Nobody is better than the Democrats at attacking and tearing down their opponents. The Democrats strategy was to attack anything and everything this administration to win the 2006 elections and the mainly liberal media was only too happy to help them out.

    August 28, 2007 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  6. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    "Neil Newhouse must be looking through different windows than the rest of th world! But just like a Bush supporter to try to downplay his cellar ratings by attacking the Democrats support."

    ~ Tricia, Canada
    – – – – – –


    Exactly WHEN is an 18% approval rating (Democratic-lead Congress) is better than the President's 40% approval rating?

    Also, I'm curious since you're commenting on Katrina, do you find ANY accountability for progress to be at either the local or state level? Or is it ALL Bush's fault?

    August 28, 2007 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  7. And Justice for ALL, Winter Haven, FL

    "The shameful deomcrats have gotten rid of most of the good men in Bush's administration. Are they going to remember this when the same is done to them? Probably not!"

    Can someone please remind me who these "good men" are? I seem to have lost the sticky note containing their names...

    Kinda scary that there are still people in this country wearing blinders to this corrupt, immoral, probably criminal administration and it's occupants. I'll pray for them.

    August 28, 2007 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  8. Mary, Beaver, PA

    Luis Jose, I think that it is racist to defend bad apples just because you happen to be of their ethnic mix. His being Mexican had nothing to do with his downfall.

    August 28, 2007 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  9. David, Gilbert Arizona

    Not surprising. Bush has successfully alienated everyone around him, even his base voters the right wing conservatives. This has nothing to do with republican or democrat. It has everything to do with Bush and how he runs his administration. His tight fisted, overly secretive, authoritarian policies have divided this country and erroded our Constitutional rights. There is no compromise with Bush. Everything has to go his way or no way. This will be Bush's legacy, his unwillingness to compromise at any cost. He can't, or won't, see beyond his own nose.

    Gonzales is actually a good man who got mixed up with a bad administration. Gonzales made the mistake of becoming a Bush yes man instead of a judicial representative of America. At some point in time Gonzales must have made a conscious choice to do Bush's bidding and that is the reason Gonzales goes home in disgrace. I pitty anyone who gets mixed up in the Bush Cheney administration.

    August 28, 2007 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  10. MediaJunkie, Washington, DC

    Actually spinstopper, the first Gulf War was considered "popular." The troops and President George H.W. Bush had the undivided support of the American people and Congress.

    August 28, 2007 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  11. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    George W. Bush gives rich, white, Yalie, absentee-Reservist, alcoholic, intellectually challenged Christians a bad name.

    August 28, 2007 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  12. mike, hooksett nh

    hey gutless jon!
    go to this link and finish our last discussion...
    that is if you arent gutless....

    on to this subject.
    why do you right wing types always lie?
    or think its still 2003?
    bush at 40%????????
    ha frigging ha! he hasnt been 40 percent in over two years.

    one more for ya....
    why do you think the congress has such low approval ratings?

    its the same reason democrats won so big in 06......
    the republicans suck,they all (including you)are living in a dream world and couldnt govern thier way out of a brown paper bag. congress wont get good approval ratings until there is enough democrats to override the obstructionist republicans.
    its only a matter of time.

    once we vote out many of the out of touch republicans, then get us out of iraq and see
    how thier ratings are then.

    this war sucks. the surge isnt working, we will never "win" and there will never be an american style democracy in iraq and nothing bush, you or the rest of the rats clinging to the sinking ship will change it.

    per usual, i expect nothing but name calling and of course no rational arguements of any kind

    August 28, 2007 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  13. Jon, Pittsburgh, PA

    I find it amusing that Republicans have resorted to saying that Congress' approval rating is lower than Bush's – and that means Democrat's approval ratings are lower than Bush's. I've heard this so many times lately. Did they forget that the Congress in both houses was Republican controlled until just recently? And, is still pretty well a split Congress? Get a grip guys.

    August 28, 2007 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  14. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI

    Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca
    Jon I wouldn't honour your question with a reply. Did you not view my last post to you in reply to your villianous, beligerant attack on an Iraq Veteran? The post where you called him a Fraud!

    If not, here is the jist of my reply again for you.

    Only a person of the lowest character could so villianously, beligerantly, condemn military heroes. Heroes who have selflessly and bravely answered the call, put their lives at risk, to give you the right and freedom you so callously use to dishonour, discredit, and mock them. You should be utterly ashamed of yourself.

    I have a family member serving in Afghanistan presently and I can tell you that neither he nor any of our military members deserve such disrespect. Good Day.

    August 28, 2007 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  15. mark v NJ

    To John in Sacramento:


    Read about the man's past. The man fails at everything he has ever done. He had a chance to unite the country and the world after 9/11 and instead chose to submit us to the most incompetence and cronyism I have ever witnessed in my lifetime.

    I forgive you John and all the Johns out there who voted for the dolt we call President Bush, But John - don't let it happen again.

    August 28, 2007 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  16. David, Salinas, CA

    Loyalty was the cause of Gonzalez’s downfall. He kept on being President Bush’s lawyer when he was supposed to be America’s lawyer. I think it’s for the best that he’s gone.

    August 28, 2007 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  17. James, Phoenix AZ

    Isn't THAT ironic? A liberal Canadian (Tricia) getting huffy over wanting respect for HER military family – yet calls Bush's actions illegal.

    Classic hypocritcal thinking!

    August 29, 2007 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  18. mike, hooksett nh

    The two things have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

    a soldier shouldnt be disrespected because his leaders send him into a illegal war.

    she wasnt disrespecting soldiers by saying what bush has done is illegal either.

    we liberals can grasp more than one point at a time.....
    that and the fact that we believe in country before party, unlike you and your ilk.

    August 29, 2007 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  19. James, Phoenix AZ

    Mike, I checked that link you posted. Were you "respecting" soldiers by calling them invaders and occupiers?

    Seems Tricia doesn't have a problem with you (effectively calling her family an invader and occupier) because you both have the same political ideology. How is that again putting country before party?

    August 29, 2007 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  20. mike, hooksett nh

    again james,
    we are talking about two different things iraq isnt afghanistan.
    the reasons that we invaded each couldnt be more different. as a right winger im sure you havent put this together yet but iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 or islamic terror.

    sorry but in my opinion we invaded iraq and we are currently occupying iraq.

    i dont think im stepping way out of the mainstream holding or expressing that opinion.

    at the same time it doesnt make the guys wrong who were ordered to go in and illegally go in and invade and occupy a country.

    they were just following orders.

    i know you are dying for me to say i hate the troops but sorry, i dont,
    i feel bad for them and want them to be treated way, way better than they are.

    the guys who are wrong are the guys who gave them the orders to illegally go in and invade and occupy a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 or terrorism.

    i know you are doing your best to deflect the fact that you and your type are dead wrong on basically everything and are being marginalized by the american public as i write this.

    August 29, 2007 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  21. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI Canada

    Reply TO: James, Phoenix AZ

    I think you misinterpreted what I stated.
    "I have a family member serving in Afghanistan presently and I can tell you that neither he nor any of our military members deserve such disrespect."
    If you read the copy I posted above you will see where I stated,"he nor any of our military deserve such disrespect." OUR military was intended as an inclusion of All International Military Members not just Canadian.

    There are other military troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan besides American Troops. Many Nato Troops are deployed in those areas. Maybe you were not aware of that fact?

    And if a Canadian posted the same disrespectful comments as Jon posted, regarding a military member, I would have the very same opinion.

    However, it is puzzling to say the least, why you and Jon hold such a high degree of respect for President Bush but hold no respect for those who answered his call and put their lives on the line to fight his war. A war based on a mere premise.

    In any case, you have the right to your opinion, as do I. Suffice to say, my loyalty and admiration for military members throughout the world, and my less than admirable opinion of President Bush differs from yours.

    August 29, 2007 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  22. Kristy Sanborn Dixon, Mo.

    Now the news is full of Mr. Gonzales's resigntion, just as this article here. Only there is one thing missing, the reason of Mr. Gonzales's resignation. I see assumptions, I see speculations, but I see NO reason given to include saying goodbye to political liabilities by President George W. Bush concerning Mr. Gonzales's resignation. I see implications of, but only that.
    I have to say, I love the "those close to 'Mr.' Bush, that right there is a CNN lack of repect issue, not 'those close to him', as if so, CNN would have printed the names of the ones so close to the President saying what CNN is trying to imply.
    Oh, thats right, it was "the ones close to 'Mr. Bush'", opppsss...., I thought john king was referring to President George W. Bush in that comment, my mistake.
    Caleb, do you think that also? Thats what I do think, in fact after the election that elected this congress, as there were a few articles about election fraud in a few states, right after their democratic win, I have NO faith in this next election.
    Hillary's running don't forget.
    And we know who her friends are.
    Just remember one thing, Mr. Gonzales nor the President is giving a reason as to Mr. Gonzales's resignation, and life can hold some surprises for those who don't loose faith, don't forget that Caleb, ok?
    You are so right, and I am glad to hear the results of a true poll that Neil Newhouse reported, I suspected that, but its sometimes can be a one sided media.
    Thirsty Jon, tell ALL your friends what you posted here, we DO need more public office like our President and Mr. Gonzales, tell them how important this next election is going to be.
    I am so happy to read some of these postings showing support and TRUTH, but here IS truth also, if hillary gets into office, kiss AMERICA GOODBYE, as she has already demonstrated beyond a doubt "flip-flopping" and America can't take that, America needs stability.
    At least with the drama show that congress displayed for how many months and months now, I don't doubt what Neil Newhouse says about congress's ratings being lower, does the chart go that low?
    Mercedes, why would you be surprised with all the articles about Mr. Gonzales's resignation that CNN has NO reason to report as to the reason why, that king would use the word 'pinata' in his column? I hate to break your heart, but...some journalists have NO more 'character' than some of the politicians they hang out with and protect in their reports, this report clearly demonstrates that, so don't wonder as to the
    'why' john king used that word. Its more than obvious.
    Maybe you should re-read thirsty jon's posting, then you may see there ARE Americans who do know the truth. That is the truth, there was NO reason to throw that word in except a sick attitude.....I meant the "pinata" word. But thats ok, we don't have to pay any attention to it...not worth the time.
    J. Moran, you wonder about some liberal senators sitting on the Judiciary, I wonder about a police officer sitting in a public restroom and getting hit on by the guy in the next stall! Who turns out to be.......senator.
    Hows that for 'liberal'?
    And, one that got charges brought against him, as rightfully so, thats the problem congress has with Mr. Gonzales, but I don't think that is the real reason Mr. Gonzales did resign, as much as congress and their friends are going to want to make it look like that. Linda in NY, if there is one man on earth that I don't think you or anyone else should feel bad for, I think myself it would be President George W. Bush, do you have any idea how many friends this man has?
    Did you read where Mr. Gonzales was when he handed in his resignation? I believe our President will never be alone, for one, do you have any idea how many friends he has just in the Military alone? There aren't too many people on earth that can say that, not to mention he still has his friends, that I would be certain of. Sometimes though, things just come up and things need to be done about them, and we don't know what some are really doing, do we?
    But rest assured, that President is not alone, infact, I would say not only is he blessed with friends like Mr. Gonzales, but he also has that inner peace within him, take a GOOD look at him. You will see that also.
    Only the blind wouldn't, but they would still feel it.
    I would say there are reasons for this that we don't know and CNN can't report, because they don't either. Somethings are just like secret stuff.

    August 29, 2007 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
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