On Sunday Newt Gingrich and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) appeared on Fox News Sunday. Gingrich had some interesting things to say about the Bush administration, Alberto Gonzales, and the U.S. attorney scandal. After Gingrich was asked by Chris Wallace, “should the attorney general resign,” this is what he had to say on the subject, “You know, one of the weaknesses of this administration is that when it has a clear performance failure, FEMA in New Orleans would be an example, that it is not aggressive enough and direct enough with holding people accountable. Let me draw this into two boxes. The president has every right to have the U.S. attorneys he wants. It is not a prerogative of the Senate or anyone else to question if he says he no longer pleases me, they’re supposed to resign, period.”

The former Speaker of the House, and possible 2008 GOP presidential candidate, went on to say that, “This is the most mishandled, artificial, self-created mess that I can remember in the years I’ve been active in public life. And it has to, you know, the buck has to stop somewhere, and I’m assuming it’s the attorney general and his immediate team. And I think it is amazing that there’s any doubt about the fact that they have totally mishandled this.” In very professional terms Newt Gingrich just called an administration headed up by a member of his own party a failure. Saying that an administration has failed to perform, or properly carry out its duties, is the biggest criticism that can ever be leveled at a president and his administration.

Newt Gingrich is a historian and a very intelligent man, except when he makes offhanded comments about bilingualism in education, so you can be certain that he chose the term performance failure for a reason. Gingrich went on to say that attorney general was responsible for the performance failure of the Justice Department. Wallace then asked again if Gonzales should step down and Gingrich said, “I cannot imagine how he is going to be effective for the rest of this administration. And they’re now going to be involved, thanks to our good friends in the Senate side; they’re going to be involved in endless hearings, which are going to take up an immense amount of time and effort. I think the country, in fact, would be much better served to have a new team at the Justice Department, across the board.”

I have two final points to make here. First, even loyal Republicans like Newt see what needs to be done here. Notice how Gingrich stayed within his Party’s talking points about the attorney firings being justified, but instead of standing behind Gonzales, he blames him for botching the explanation of his department’s actions to Congress. I am of the opinion that the firings were another blatant attempt by the Bush administration to stretch the boundaries of executive branch power. Secondly, it should be fairly obvious that 2008 GOP candidates are going to run as far away from, and avoid mentioning the Bush administration, as much as possible in next year’s campaign. This would work, if it wasn’t for the war in Iraq providing a daily reminder of this administration’s failures. If the Iraq war is still going on in ’08, then Republicans will lose the White House. In the end, it may be that simple.

Link to the entire Gingrich/Schumer transcript on FNS

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics

Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse blog radio

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