Alberto Gonzales, Department of Justice, Fabulosity, Media and Journalism, Monica Goodling, U.S. Attorneys Offices, You Go Girl

Monica Goodling: Yes, We’re Obsessed

Monica Goodling 5 Monica M Goodling Monica Gooding Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.jpgBut so is the mainstream media. The articles about this high-ranking Justice Department official, at the heart of the controversial U.S. Attorney firings, just keep on coming.
We can’t get enough of the coverage. We are completely intrigued — and quite taken by — Monica M. Goodling. She’s the most fascinating and appealing personality we’ve encountered since Alexandra Korry and Shanetta Cutlar (whom we also adore — what can we say, we love strong women).
In the face of widespread media and blogosphere criticism of Monica Goodling, we intend to stake out our position as the leading pro-Monica outlet. It’s all too easy to rank on her non-Ivy League background or her strong conservative beliefs. We will provide a counterbalance to the negativity, by vigorously praising and defending Monica Goodling in all of her fabulosity.
The latest Monica Goodling profiles are by Jonathan Last, for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and by T.R. Goldman and Emma Schwartz, for the Legal Times. Here are some excerpts from Jonathan Last’s article:

Now 33, [Monica Goodling] graduated from Messiah College, an evangelical Christian school, in 1995. After a year at the American University Washington College of Law, she enrolled at Pat Robertson’s Regent University Law School in 1996 – the year it received full accreditation from the American Bar Association. She graduated from Regent in 1999. That November, Goodling went to work for the Republican National Committee as a junior research analyst in the opposition research shop. When her boss, Barbara Comstock, left the RNC to head the Office of Public Affairs in the Ashcroft Justice Department, Goodling went with her.

After spending two years in Public Affairs, Goodling was detailed to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia for a two-year stint in order to get the “field experience” typically required for the attorney general counsel’s job. She served only six months. (The head of EDVA at the time was Paul McNulty, who, having since become a deputy attorney general, also played a role in the firing of the eight U.S. attorneys.)

According to my research, Goodling was the lead attorney on three felony cases while at EDVA. All three ended in plea agreements; none was of particular importance. To give a sense of the magnitude of her work, the highest-level defendant was sentenced to four months in jail; the other two were given three years of supervised release – one of these also received a $100 special assessment. Nevertheless, upon her return to Justice, Goodling assumed the senior counsel and White House liaison posts. So much for the best and the brightest.

OUCH. Mr. Last, that’s no way to treat a lady!
More discussion, after the jump.

In the very next paragraph, Last admits that he may have been overly harsh:

Of course, that’s not completely fair. There’s nothing wrong with attending fourth-tier schools. The value of college is vastly overrated, and lots of smart people don’t go to Harvard. But when you look at the rest of Goodling’s bio, it is not obvious why she was participating in serious, senior-level decisions about the hiring and firing of U.S. attorneys.

We submit that Goodling is one of the many “smart people [who] don’t go to Harvard.” She has been widely praised — for her intellect, her work ethic, her personality, and her baked goods — from many quarters.
Some of these accolades are collected in the Legal Times article, which notes that “[t]o her defenders, Goodling is a hyperdiligent employee who was merely doing her job: finding politically appropriate replacements for fired U.S. Attorneys.”
Most of the piece focuses on Goodling’s decision to invoke the Fifth Amendment privilege, and whether that was a wise move. But it does contain some biographical material about her. This info is particularly interesting:

When [Barbara] Comstock became [Attorney General] Ashcroft’s spokeswoman in 2002, she brought Goodling along as her deputy. Goodling stayed for three years. In no time, Goodling became “indispensable” to the office, says Mark Corallo, who became Ashcroft’s spokesman in 2003. “I have never known anybody that works harder or does better work than her.”

Her dedication was legendary, so much so that Ashcroft’s office would ask to “borrow” her for projects. Corallo says Goodling would stay all night. “I’d come in at 8 a.m., and she’d be sleeping on my sofa in the office.”

Wow — Monica Goodling is hard core!

Goodling often traveled with Ashcroft on tours promoting neighborhood safety and the Patriot Act. Former colleagues say Ashcroft also had a particular taste for Goodling’s brownies. She was meticulous and a perfectionist. She was the point person on judicial nominations, often working in the Office of Legal Policy with then-Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh, says a former colleague.

She’s hard-working, she’s detail-oriented — AND she bakes killer brownies. What more could one ask for?
And to refresh your recollection, here are additional quotes about Goodling, from the recent Washington Post and Harrisburg Patriot-News profiles:

“When she started at Justice, ‘no job was too small for her,’ and as she moved rapidly up the ranks, none ‘was too large,’ former DOJ staffer Mark Corallo said.

“”She was the embodiment of a hardworking young conservative who believed strongly in the president and his mission,” said David Ayres, former chief of staff to Bush’s first attorney general, John D. Ashcroft.”

“Her political science professor, Dean Curry, recalls her as a ‘bright, responsible young woman’ who was student body president and ‘was very serious about politics.'”

“A Messiah professor and administrator recalled her ‘engaging personality’ and ‘leadership ability.'”

“‘She is apparently very bright and the president of her class and I wish I could say she got her brilliance from me, but I don’t believe she’s related to my family,’ said [former Rep.] Bill Goodling, who represented York County in Congress until his retirement in 2000.”

Tim Dawson, assistant dean of admissions at Messiah, remembers being impressed with Goodling… “She was a strong representative of Messiah College,” he said, recalling her “leadership ability and communications.

Remember, of course, that these quotes were gathered by the mainstream media — which would probably have LOVED to do another hatchet job on a high-powered conservative. But after doing their reporting, they ended up with mostly positive material about this impressive and successful young lawyer.
One Last Thing: Attorneys scandal is not about firings [Philadelphia Inquirer]
DOJ Official Brings Storm by Taking the Fifth in Gonzales Flap [Legal Times]

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