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The Gonzales Cantata

by Melissa Dunphy

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Introduction 02:00
2. INTRODUCTION LEAHY: Good morning. CHORUS: Today, the Department of Justice is experiencing a crisis of leadership. LEAHY: I've warned for years against lack of experience and judgment. CHORUS: We're seeing the results amid rising crime and rampant war profiteering, abandonment of civil rights, and lack of accountability. LEAHY: I fear the Justice Department is losing its way. Investigation into the firing of United States attorneys have revealed an administration that values
3. LOYALTY OVER JUDGMENT CHORUS: loyalty over judgment, secrecy over openness, ideology over competence.
The Purpose 01:00
The Oath 00:34
5. THE OATH LEAHY: Mr. Attorney General, please raise your right hand. Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you will give before this committee will be the whole truth, so help you God? GONZALES: I do. CARDIN: Let us go over the U.S. attorneys who were fired.
6. WHAT IS ONE TO THINK? CHORUS: In New Mexico, a U.S. attorney refused to expedite a probe into Democrats before an election. In Nevada and Arkansas, in Arizona and California, U.S. attorneys investigated corrupt Republican politicians. In Washington, a U.S. attorney declined to intervene in a disputed gubernatorial election. In Missouri, there were voter fraud investigations. We look at those who were removed and find they were involved in political issues that were unpopular to the Republican establishment. What is one to think?
7. THE DECISIONS FEINSTEIN: Mr. Attorney General, I may be very slow. But I don't understand how this list was compiled. GONZALES: Senator, I have searched my memory. My schedule shows a meeting, but I have no recollection of it. SESSIONS: Well, I'm concerned about your recollection, really, because it's not that long ago. I would want to know who selected these individuals. Who was the decider? GONZALES: Senator, I'm the attorney general. I make the decisions.
8. I DON’T RECALL GONZALES: I did not make decisions about who should or should not be asked to resign. I don't recall ever saying, "No, take that person off," or, "Add this person." I ultimately approved the list of recommendations that were submitted to me. Those were my decisions.
9. YOU DON’T RECALL LEAHY: You don't recall the meeting where you made the decision. How can you be sure you made the decision? (LAUGHTER) GONZALES: Senator, I recall making the decision. LEAHY: When? GONZALES: Sir, I don't recall.
Preparation 01:50
10. PREPARATION SPECTER: Let me review some of the record with you. I know you're familiar with this record because I know you've been preparing for this hearing. GONZALES: I prepare for every hearing, Senator. SPECTER: Do you prepare for all your press conferences? Were you prepared for the press conference where you said there weren't any discussions involving you? GONZALES: I said I prepared for every hearing. SPECTER: Well, and I'm asking you, do you prepare for your press conferences? GONZALES: Senator, we do take time to prepare for the press conference. SPECTER: Let's -- let's move on. I don't think you're going to win a debate about your preparation, frankly.
11. STAND BY THE DECISION CARDIN: Mr. Gonzales, what concerns me the most is after reviewing all the facts, you stand by the decision. GONZALES: I do, Senator. I do. CARDIN: You would still do the same thing again. GONZALES: Senator... CARDIN: I don't understand that. GONZALES: Senator, I would use a different process, a different process... CARDIN: Same conclusion? GONZALES: I have no reason to believe that the basis of the recommendations was improper motives.
12. THIS IS NOT ABOUT ALBERTO GONZALES GONZALES: This is not about Alberto Gonzales. This is about the Department of Justice. I look back with pride in the things that we’ve accomplished. Protecting our kids, protecting our neighborhoods, protecting our country. I have to be -- I have to know in my heart that I can continue to be effective as the leader of this department.The moment I believe I can no longer be effective, I will resign.
Flagellation 02:49
13. FLAGELLATION CHORUS: It's almost as if the walls were actually crumbling on this huge department. Nothing gets answered directly. Everything is obfuscated. Something's rotten in Denmark. The way that this investigation has been handled is really deplorable. The communication was atrocious. It's generous to say there were misstatements. And I believe you ought to suffer the consequences. There is evidence of low morale -- very low morale, lack of credibility -- your personable credibility. The department is dysfunctional. I urge you to re-examine your performance and, for the good of the country, step down.
14. I THINK WE ALL WILL AGREE HATCH: I think we all will agree, I think you've agreed that this was poorly handled. GONZALES: Yes. HATCH: I mean, how many times do you have to be flagellated over that? There are two legitimate issues in the U.S. attorney controversy. First, were any of them removed for an improper reason? Second, did any administration officials knowingly mislead Congress or the public? After three months of hearings, all kinds of interviews, and thousands upon thousands of pages of documents, the evidence shows the answer to both of those questions is a resounding no.
Attack Me 03:07
15. ATTACK ME CHORUS: The evidence that we've uncovered shows that politics have entered the Department. You've come here seeking our trust. Frankly, Mr. Attorney General, you've lost mine. GONZALES: This is not about Alberto Gonzales. It's about what's best for the department. CHORUS: There are widespread abuses. And we know it goes even beyond what we've heard. GONZALES: Clearly, there are issues I have to deal with. I believe that I can be -- I think that there are some good things that I can accomplish on behalf of this country. CHORUS: Incompetent appointees. Legal briefs that contradict International Law. Executive interference in the Justice Department. GONZALES: I'm going to work as hard as I can to reestablish trust and confidence with this committee and members of Congress. LEAHY: I don't trust you. CHORUS: Torture of detainees. Illegal domestic surveillance programs. Harassment of the press. GONZALES: And of course, with the career professionals at our department. And all the credit, everything that we do, the credit goes to them. And so, when there are attacks against the department, you're attacking the career professionals. CHORUS: Perjury. GONZALES: You should attack me. You should attack me. (APPLAUSE) PROTESTERS: Fire Gonzales now! Stop lying! Liar! Liar! Impeach! LEAHY: Thank you. We stand adjourned.
Differently 03:47
16. DIFFERENTLY GONZALES: Looking back, things that I would have done differently? I should have told him, And I think he should have -- I should have asked him I should have told him the factors that I thought were important for him to consider. I should have told him, And I think I would have told him -- I should have told him, And we should have a list. I think these are the things -- I think these are the kinds of things, in hindsight, that I wish would have happened. I think it's also unfair (I think it’s all so unfair). It is clear that we struggled -- not struggled – Where we made a mistake, clearly -- I think -- is once we said "performance," we should have defined that. Because performance, for me, means lots of things. It means whether or not you've got leadership skills, whether or not you've got management skills. It may mean whether or not you support the president. It may mean that you don't have -- that you have a sufficient -- that you have relationships. And so there are lots of things that fall within the definition of performance-related. And I think that we should have defined what we meant by that.
17. GOD BLESS AMERICA CHORUS: God bless the land that gave us birth! No pray'r but this know we. God bless the land, of all the earth, The happy and the free. And where's the land like ours can brave The splendor of the day And find no son of hers a slave? God bless America! GONZALES: Thirteen years ago I entered public service to make a positive difference in the lives of others. I have traveled a remarkable journey. Yesterday I informed the president of my decision to resign. I often remind our fellow citizens that we live in the greatest country in the world and I have lived the American dream. Even my worst days as attorney general have been better than my father's best days. Thank you, and God bless America. CHORUS: God bless the land, the land beloved Forever and for aye! God bless the land that gave us birth. God bless America!


The Gonzales Cantata is a reaction to the drama and politics of events leading up to the resignation of disgraced US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in 2007.

During his hearings before the often brutal Senate Judiciary Committee, Gonzales became a modern-day Orpheus, alone and defenseless, facing the terrifying Furies in the Underworld. The doomed Orpheus in this tale, however, lacks the noble cause or incredible talent of the mythical Orpheus, and he has even had a hand in the poisoning of his Eurydice – the country he serves. This is the account of a man who has risen to the level of his own incompetence and must face the terrible consequences without hope of escape or redemption.

In protest of male domination of American politics, the genders of the

performers have been reversed in relation to the characters they portray.

-- Melissa Dunphy, January 20, 2009.

Recorded February 5, February 6 and March 19, 2009, at Gates Family Recital Hall, West Chester University, Pennsylvania, USA.

Text taken from: Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings (January 18, 2007, April 19, 2007, July 24, 2007); Alberto Gonzales’ resignation statement (August 27, 2007); "God Bless America!" (music and text by Robert Montgomery Bird, published 1834)


released July 9, 2009

Conductor: David Brown

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales: Julie Kremm

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy: Jamie Chimchirian

Sen. Arlen Specter: Amanda M. Williams

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch: Chrissy McHugh

Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin: Becca Burrow

Sen. Jeff Sessions: Andrea Greenwald

Sen. Charles E. Grassley: Shannon Rafferty

Sen. Diane Feinstein: Daniel K. Williams

Soprano: Laurie Day, Kris Neel, Christine Stief, Melissa Dunphy

Alto: Angela Lattanzio

Tenor: Skip Hale, Dan Moyer, Dan Pardo, Matt South

Violin 1: Snow Shen, Jemma Ritto

Violin 2: Emily Weigert, Heather Mehr, Carly Schaefer

Viola: Ray Mallari, Heather Wright, Katie Moyer

Cello: Meghan Hoefert, Sarabeth Taber-Miller

Harpsichord: Daniel Paul Lawson

Percussion: David Trum

Recording engineer: Robert Rust

Mixing and Production: Matt Dunphy

Packaging: Melissa Dunphy

Special Thanks: Dr. Robert Maggio, Dr. Van Stiefel, Dr. Larry Nelson, Gerry Cousins, Nicole Kemp, Evelyn Doran.



©2009 Melissa Dunphy


all rights reserved



Melissa Dunphy Philadelphia

Nationally acclaimed award-winning composer Melissa Dunphy specializes in political and theatrical vocal music, such as the smash hit 2009 choral work the Gonzales Cantata (featured on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow). Her compositions have been performed around the country by Chanticleer, the Simon Carrington Chamber Singers, St. Louis Chamber Chorus, and the American Opera Theater. ... more


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