Initially, one of Michael Mukasey’s strongest assets as the attorney general nominee had less to do with who he was and everything to do with who he was not: Alberto Gonzales.

Senators lauded Mukasey as a widely respected jurist, a consensus nominee whose mere presence, in short order, would restore credibility and objectivity to the beleaguered Justice Department. Even liberal interest groups held their fire. But since Day 2 of his confirmation hearings, when he demurred on whether waterboarding is illegal, Mukasey’s confirmation has shifted from a sure thing to a close call.

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