Ever since President Bush began to build his administration’s track record of undermining the U.S. Constitution and restricting Americans’ civil liberties, he has had a loyal yes-man and enabler, Alberto “Can’t Recall” Gonzales.

First as White House counsel and now as attorney general, Gonzales has had a hand in every White House maneuver to increase spying by government agencies, to sanction abuse and torture of people incarcerated under the war and occupation of Iraq and the “war on terror,” and to turn the Department of Justice into a support system for the extreme right instead of a defender of the American people’s rights.

This week the Senate voted, 53-38, to proceed with a nonbinding vote of no confidence in Gonzales.

The attorney general’s critics failed to reach the 60 votes needed to act on their resolution that Gonzales “no longer holds the confidence of the Senate and of the American people.” But seven Republicans, including Sens. Chuck Hagel and Arlen Specter, joined the Democratic majority. Others who opposed the resolution nevertheless criticized the administration, including Republican George Voinovich, who said, “If I were president, I would have asked Alberto Gonzales to resign as attorney general.” Presidential candidate John McCain sidestepped the no-confidence vote altogether.

Sen. Charles Schumer, a key backer of the measure, said the vote should still be interpreted as an expression of no confidence. Gonzales “ought to have the decency himself to resign,” Schumer added. “Clearly, he is not up to the job.”

In typical imperious style, Bush dismissed the Senate action. “They can try to have their votes of no confidence,” he said, “but it’s not going to determine who serves in my government.”

As Anthony Romero, head of the American Civil Liberties Union, wrote in an open letter to the Senate before the vote, “The attorney general provides tailor-made legal support for the president; the president reciprocates with unwavering political support. It’s a cozy relationship for those two, but disastrous for our nation and its rule of law. ‘No confidence’ doesn’t even begin to cover it.”