The resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, coming after many months of typically stubborn Bush refusals to consider his removal, is getting puzzled reactions for its timing. But I'd say it's par for the course for a president who has never minded flip-flopping so long as he didn't have to admit it.
Reports that Bush is going to nominate Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff as Gonzales' replacement, however, raise a different kind of timing problem. This week will be full of reminisicences of Hurricaine Katrina, which occurred two years ago. As Douglas Brinkley's book The Great Deluge recently reminded us, Chertoff played an especially ignominous role in the indifferent and incompetent federal response to that disaster. So I'd guess if Chertoff is the choice, the announcement will be delayed for a week or so.
But even if Bush goes with a less controversial nominee like Larry Thompson, the confirmation hearings will obviously be dominated by all the questions Gonzales has refused to answer about Justice Department political practices and the administration's Divine Right approach to its legal prerogatives. Perhaps this will serve as a distraction to the impending Iraq debate, or perhaps it will simply intensify an atmosphere characterized by an out-of-control presidency that refuses accountability for any of its works and any of its agents. This is one moment where virtually all Democrats will agree on a full-throttle, no-holds-barred fight.