Opportunity

The White House seems concerned that if it fires Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, it will be in for a bruising confirmation fight. Not necessarily.

I am not sure if they know it yet, but the administration is in big trouble. Its credibility meter is running low, the president’s approval ratings are consistently dismal, and congressional Republicans are losing patience quickly.

They need to make a big change. When Ronald Reagan needed big-time help, he called in Howard Baker. When Bush’s father’s campaign needed a boost, they turned to James Baker. So which Baker is the current president going to turn to?

I am not sure if he is going to find someone named Baker, but he needs a big name. If Gonzales goes, it opens up an important spot to replace with a big-time player.

The president should first ask Fred Thompson whether he’s going to run for president. If not, name him attorney general. He already plays one on television, after all, and he’s independent and credible.

If not Thompson, then he should name Orrin Hatch, Arlen Specter, Lindsey Graham or somebody everyone has heard of and likes, both inside and outside Washington. It shouldn’t be a Bushie. We have had enough of those for the time being.

There is precedent for picking someone exceptionally qualified after a Bushie falls. Sam Alito has been a superstar, and for pro-life Republicans like me, the decision on partial-birth abortion has been the best thing this White House has had any role in (other than tax cuts). He only entered the Supreme Court stage after Harriet Miers exited it.

The “I don’t recall” defense never works in the court of public opinion. Somebody should have told the attorney general that before he testified yesterday. It is time for him to go and time to bring on somebody exceptionally qualified to help save the reputation of this White House before it is too late.

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