What does Sheryl Stolberg do for a living?

Sometimes I really wonder what goes on inside reporters’ heads–particularly if they cover national politics for the New York Times.

In what passes for “news analysis,” Sheryl Gay Stolberg informs us that Gonzales’ resignation could be good news for the President. Along with Karl Rove’s departure, it gives him a chance for a “fresh start” because

he can go into the next battle with Congress over the Iraq war — as well as another looming fight over legislation authorizing his domestic wiretapping program — free of the baggage both men carried. If the resignations remove some of the partisan tension between the White House and Capitol Hill, and get Mr. Rove and Mr. Gonzales off the front pages, they could help get Mr. Bush off the defensive as he struggles to salvage something of his second term.

You see? The good king was weighed down by his wicked courtiers.

One day, historians will be puzzled by the extraordinary inability of the national press to see the President for what he is. But let me clarify something very slowly for them.

George W. Bush is the President of the United States. That means he appoints people like Karl Rove and Alberto Gonzales. They were there, and did what they did, because George W. Bush let them do so, and in fact wanted them to do so. There was “partisan tension” between the White House and Congress because George W. Bush wanted it that way. And he wanted it that way because he quite literally has contempt for Congress–both in partisan terms and as an institution.

Put another way, the “baggage” that both men carried was George W. Bush. And that piece of baggage is still very much in the nation’s capital.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.