Gonzales Faces a Pivotal Week
If Democrats on the committee manage to discredit more of Gonzales's explanations, it's unclear if he can survive the hearing, although he has managed to last out the controversy longer than most political pundits have predicted. Even Republican allies of the president have called for Gonzales's ouster.
Citing Gonzales as the "central figure in this investigation," Schumer warned Sunday that this could be Gonzales's last chance.
"Let me be clear: This is a very, very important hearing," Schumer said. "It's make or break for the attorney general."
As political circuses go, this is probably the show most worth watching this week in the nation's capitol, one in which Gonzales clearly has the tight-rope act. On the one hand, Gonzales must defend the decision to fire the U.S. attorneys even while he accepts blame for the botched processes. He also must, one source familiar with the ongoing probe says, "walk the line" between "being too disconnected from key decisions, and taking ownership of something most Senators think was a very bad idea politically." He also must give a credible accounting of himself to explain the shifting stories.
But even though Gonzales may have slashed his own safety net with his obfuscations and inconsistencies, it doesn't necessarily mean that he will fall to his political death.
"The expectations for him are so low," says this source, "that he may actually look pretty good."
On the other hand, if Democratic senators manage to trap Gonzales in one more seemingly inaccurate statement, it's clear that this political circus won't have a happy ending. Instead, Gonzales could get swallowed whole by those bloodthirsty lions poorly disguised as donkeys on Capitol Hill. And there won't be too many circus elephants charging to Gonzales's rescue.