WASH., D.C. – Attorney General Roberto Gonzales, facing increasing scrutiny for his role in the firings of US Attorneys under his watch, ostensibly for political reasons, says he is responsible, but “not responsible.”
“You must understand,” said Gonzales to reporters yesterday, “I accept responsibility, but how can I be responsible for others’ irresponsibility?” The Attorney General is renowned for his irrefutable logic in showing how things are really different than any one ever thought – such as his one-word debunking of the Geneva Conventions as “quaint,” which were previously considered sacrosanct.
Gonzales explained away his current predicament with equal aplomb, although it took many more words to wiggle himself out of this one. “In other words, to paraphrase the Great One himself,” he said, in an apparent reference to Donald Rumsfeld, “there are responsibilities you are responsible for. Then, there are responsibilities that others are responsible for. Finally, there are responsibilities no one knows who is responsible for. I call these the ‘irresponsible responsibilities.’ I mean, who knew?!”
In taking this tack, Gonzales is following the time-honored “aw shucks” defense, honed through the years by unfairly harassed CEOs and politicians, until to day it is widely accepted that those in charge cannot possibly know what’s going on below them. Some pooh-pooh this defense, claiming that to accept this is to accept that there is no accountability for the concept of accountability.
But Gonzales defenders reply by pointing out that there are unaccountable accountabilities, and then there are accountabilities that are unaccountable. Even a third grader, who stole a candy bar but didn’t mean to, knows this. Sure, he enjoys the sugary goodness to its fullest, but that candy bar put itself in his pocket, by reason of the “aw shucks” defense. And ultimately, as Gonzales himself might reason, the boy is helping the world by allowing one less cavity-causing delectable to be consumed by some other unsuspecting kid.
Responding to accusations of applying double standards, Gonzales said, “That’s patently false. For example, if I refused to do what I told myself to do, I would not hesitate to fire myself.”
Still, hard-line prosecutors charge that the attorneys were let go for “following the law,” rather than following the “partisan political directives” of those above them. But the Attorney General insists “In reality, they brought it on themselves.” Gonzales pointed out that one of the fired attorneys as much as admitted his guilt when he said, “Silly me, I thought I swore an oath to protect the people and the constitution.”
Silly indeed, and undeniably “quaint.”