If you click on the link in this entry's title, you can read the Washington Post's account of Attorney General Gonzales testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, July 24, 2007. The story details how Senators from both political parties were frustrated and angry with Gonzales's testimony. Gonzales refused to answer questions from both Republican and Democratic Senators.
Based on his behaviour, the Post today editorialized once again that he should either resign or be asked to resign his position. Yet, nothing will happen. Why? Because to a great extent the American system of government is built on people doing what they are supposed to do and if one of the actors in that system, in this case the President, just refuses to take certain actions, the system has little means of forcing such an actor to do otherwise.
If Gonzales won't resign, which he won't, and if Bush won't ask him to resign, which he won't, that only leads the option of impeachment. Impeachment, though, is a slow mechanism and, even in this case, a very uncertain one. First Articles of Impeachment would have to be introduced in the House of Representatives. Then, they have to be assigned to a committee, in this case, probably Judiciary. Next the Judiciary Committee has to report out such Articles for the whole House to consider. Assuming that such Articles would get a majority vote on the floor of the House, the issue then goes to the full Senate for a trial. Finally, after a trial, two-thirds of the Senate would have to vote for impeachment before he could be removed from office. Given the fact that Gonzales only has less then 17 months to go before he is replaced by a new President, it is doubtful that all the above could get accomplished in that period.
By the way, the power of passavity isn't just exercised by Republicans. During the Clinton impeachment process, the Republicans assumed that Clinton would be pressured by Democrats to resign and allow Gore to become President. They didn't do that and the Republicans found themselves impeaching a President but not being able to force him to leave office. In that situation, President Clinton also triumphed by just being stubborn in not doing what other actors in the political process expected.
Of course, we Democrats think that Clinton's position was justified and Bush's position isn't, but neither Bush nor the Republicans are bound to accept our version of reality, just as we weren't bound to accept theirs during the Clinton fiasco.
The bottom line? Never underestimate the power of just not doing anything in the American system.