On the March 27 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, Rush Limbaugh claimed that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, "the first Hispanic-American attorney general -- a minority" is "under fire by white liberal racists in the Senate." In fact, Gonzales' handling of the U.S. attorney firings has been criticized by lawmakers of both parties, and his actions have been censured by the Senate's only African-American and by one of its three Hispanic members.
In a March 22 CNN.com commentary, nationally syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr. made a similar claim about members of Congress who have called for Gonzales' resignation, describing them as a "lynch mob" led by "white liberals" that also includes "immigrant-baiting members of Congress -- Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-California and Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colorado." Navarrette wrote:
The nation's first Hispanic attorney general is being pressured to resign by -- pick 'em -- Democrats trying to make hay, an elite media that long opposed him, civil libertarians who condemn administration policy on detainees and wiretaps, conservatives who think Gonzales is too liberal, and liberals who think he's too conservative.
The list even includes a pair of immigrant-baiting members of Congress -- Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-California and Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colorado -- who fell out with Gonzales over the prosecution of two ex-border patrol agents.
Leading this lynch mob are white liberals who resent Gonzales because they can't claim the credit for his life's accomplishments and because they can't get him to curtsy. Why should he? Gonzales doesn't owe them a damn thing.
Contrary to Navarrette's and Limbaugh's suggestion that it is primarily white liberals, along with "a pair of immigrant-baiting members of Congress" who are leading the charge against Gonzales, Republican Sen. John H. Sununu (NH) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) are among those who have called for Gonzales' ouster. On the March 19 edition of CNN's Larry King Live, Obama said that he "voted against Alberto Gonzales' confirmation for precisely the reason that we're seeing now." Obama added:
OBAMA: What you get a sense of is a -- an attorney general who saw himself as an enabler of the administration as opposed to somebody who was actually trying to look out for the American people's interests.
And for that reason, I think it's time for him to step down and for another attorney general who can exercise some independence to be put for the reminder of this president's term.
In addition, Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO), who is Hispanic, posted an audio clip on his website in which he is critical of Gonzales. The title of the audio statement, which is linked on the "News Room" page of his Senate website, is: "Salazar Criticizes Gonzales' Role in U.S. Attorney Situation/Introduces Bill to Secure Independence of U.S. Attorneys."
On March 26, CNN.com posted a subsequent commentary by Navarrette, in which he responded to criticism of his March 22 column but did not address his earlier claim that "white liberals" are leading a "lynch mob" against Gonzales. Instead, he noted that he doesn't believe "Gonzales is in trouble ... because he is Hispanic and that, for this reason alone, he should get a pass on any wrongdoing" and later added that "[t]he point of my earlier commentary is that, for reasons that go way back and have nothing to do with this controversy, the long knives are out for Alberto Gonzales. That's a fact. But it's no excuse for making the kind of mistakes that gives your enemies the chance to use them."
Limbaugh also suggested that Laury Gordon Estrada, the wife of Miguel Estrada, who was nominated by President Bush in 2001 to sit on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, committed suicide because Senate Democrats blocked his confirmation. Limbaugh said: "[H]e's [Gonzales] not the first, by the way. We'll never forget what happened to Miguel Estrada. And that was just -- wife ended up committing suicide over what they did to him. It was horrible." According to The New Yorker, Laury Estrada's death "was ruled accidental by the medical examiner."
From the March 27 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: So you have the first Hispanic-American attorney general -- a minority -- under fire by white liberal racists in the Senate. I guarantee you that -- and he's not the first, by the way. We'll never forget what happened to Miguel Estrada. And that was just -- wife ended up committing suicide over what they did to him. It was horrible.