THE PRESIDENT’S COUNSELOR by Bill Minutaglio
Kirkus Star

THE PRESIDENT’S COUNSELOR

The Rise to Power of Alberto Gonzales
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A revealing biography of the man the sitting president calls “Fredo,” and who once insisted, “My job is to make sure we don’t make the same mistakes made by previous administrations.”

George W. Bush has long relied for legal counsel on fellow Texan Alberto Gonzales. Picked from a pool of candidates by Harriet Miers, Gonzales was, writes Austin-based journalist Minutaglio, every bit the token minority member, someone to point to as a Republican born without a silver spoon; what is more, as a partner in a major Houston firm, Gonzales took a substantial pay cut to go into government. Known more as a workhorse than a brilliant legal mind—though, brilliantly, he long managed to hush up Bush’s drunk-driving conviction and other indelicacies—Gonzales has been one of the loyal if undistinguished soldiers the president is said to favor; he has backed Bush up on his spree of executions of retarded prisoners in Texas and written policies that defend and even authorize the torture of suspected al-Qaeda members, though his most concentrated project on becoming White House counsel was to put together a “heavily detailed, multiappendix, 160-page-guide” detailing the condition of Clinton staffers’ offices when the Bush team moved in, festooned with signs reading “VP’s cardiac unit” and with posters of a faked Time magazine cover bearing the headline, “We’re Fucked.” “We think it unlikely that a reader would attribute the message in question to members of the incoming Administration,” he noted for the benefit of the General Accounting Office, the recipient of the report. Gonzales is apparently not well-liked inside the Beltway, shunned by hardcore conservatives as much as civil libertarians and particularly by military officers saddled with carrying out his tribunals, but he has not yet suffered the fate, metaphorical or real, of his Godfather nickname-sake. Bush apparently adores him, and indeed he may still be in the running for a Supreme Court seat.

An eye-opening look at the personal politics behind the present administration.

Pub Date: July 3rd, 2006
ISBN: 0-06-111920-2
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Rayo/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2006




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