Dan Froomkin asks this question and it's an apt one when you look back at two or more of his "public appearances" where the U.S. Attorney General appears to be a man of limited intellect and seems to work at coming off rather slavish to the president.
Each time he appears, in fact, he seems less and less capable, which leads people to wonder who else engineered the purging of the federal prosecutors from the Attorney General's office, since good ole Al doesn't seem capable of much subterfuge.
Why did Attorney General Alberto Gonzales go before the television cameras two weeks ago and deny that he knew anything about last year's firings of U.S. attorneys, when -- as we just learned from yet another Friday-night document dump -- he approved them during an hour-long meeting in November?
Did that meeting not make an impression? Did he choose to lie about it? Was he secretly drawing a distinction between giving his approval and knowing anything about what he had given his approval for?
Or was he just reading whatever was put in front of him?
It's no secret in Washington that Gonzales is not an autonomous player. His entire career has been as an enabler of George Bush. He does what he's told.
When he was White House counsel, for instance, he was widely seen as being under the thrall of vice presidential counsel David S. Addington on such signature issues as torture and presidential power.
It's not as obvious who has been his minder since he became attorney general two years ago. But presumably either he or, more to the point, the staffers who write his speeches and draw up his talking points still get their marching orders directly from the West Wing.