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Gonzales resigns

The New York Times' analysis: "The announcement on Monday that Mr. Gonzales will step down as attorney general — coming on the heels of the resignation of Mr. Rove, the chief political strategist — effectively removes two of the biggest targets on Democrats' hit list. Both were close friends and aides from Mr. Bush's days as Texas governor, and both were being cast by Democrats as symbols of what they regarded as the Bush administration's political excesses and failures."

VIDEO: NBC's Pete Williams report on who will succeed Alberto Gonzales.

The Washington Post notes, "Rarely has a Cabinet-level resignation been so anticipated, coming long after Gonzales's credibility had been irreparably undermined by controversy. After he seemingly could do no more harm to the administration, Bush's friend and longtime confidant finally called it quits… But his case is not unique -- and that is what has confounded Bush's allies. The same pattern occurred with former defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld."

The Los Angeles Times says Gonzales "leaves an enduring legacy: a Justice Department mired in controversy over the firing of U.S. attorneys and a series of legal and moral challenges to his post-Sept. 11 policies on presidential power, torture and domestic spying."

The Wall Street Journal adds that Gonzales' downfall "was triggered by the Justice Department's firing of eight U.S. attorneys. But the brawl over his tenure turned on a far broader issue: the Bush administration's six-year effort to impose greater political control over the federal bureaucracy." 

In his analysis, the Boston Globe's Canellos writes that Gonzales' departure "could unlock the Bush administration's legal closet, bringing new details tumbling into the open about issues including the treatment of terrorism suspects, warrantless surveillance of Americans, and the administration's definition of official secrets. … some observers are suggesting that Bush could avoid some of the scrutiny by delaying his appointment of a successor."

The Washington Post profiles the man who -- at least temporarily -- is replacing Gonzales: Solicitor General Paul Clement. "Compared with Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, Clement is a savvy Washington insider. He has spent nearly two decades learning his way around town, starting as a Supreme Court clerk and working his way through corporate law and Capitol Hill before finding a niche in the executive branch."

The Replacements: The New York Daily News writes that Chertoff "heads the list" to fill Gonzales' spot and other possibilities include interim Attorney General Paul Clement, ex-Deputy Attorney General George Terwilliger, and former Appellate Judge Laurence Silberman. "A senatorial slam dunk is ex-Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, now at PepsiCo. He would make history as the first black attorney general, but he turned down the job once before, a source said."

Per NBC's Andrew Merten, Fred Thompson discussed Gonzales' resignation while visiting the Minnesosta State Fair. "I was glad to see him go on and quit taking all the flack that he taking," Thompson said. "He's a good man, he's trying to do the best. They could've done things a lot better, they could've handled things a lot better over the past several months without any question. But it got to where his political enemies were making him look good. They insulted him and abused him and engaged in so much overkill that I'm glad the president didn't let them run him out of town. They did it at their own pace, and I think the timing was good, and now the Justice Department can move on."