I've come up a with a new nickname for Arlen Specter: Scottish Haggis. So I don't want you to think that I believe Specter has any authority when he says that Gonzales is likely to step down before a no confidence vote.
SCHIEFFER: Do you, in fact, think Republicans, a sizable number, will join with Democrats on that? And what do you think the impact is going to be on the Attorney General?
SPECTER: Well, I think so. You already have six Republicans calling for his resignation. I have a sense, Bob, that before the vote is taken that Attorney General Gonzales may step down.
SPECTER: Well, it is a very forceful, historical statement. Votes of no confidence are very rare. More than a century ago one was leveled against a sitting president. I think historically that is something which Attorney General Gonzales would like to avoid. The most important thing, though, is the inability of the department now to function. I was about to say that U.S. Attorneys met in San Antonio this past week and there was a lot of criticism and a lot of dissension. That department is very, very important, functioning for the welfare of our country. […]
SCHIEFFER: What leads you, senator, to the conclusion that he will probably step down before such a vote is taken?
SPECTER: Because of the likelihood, a very substantial vote of no confidence. I think that if and when he sees that coming, that he would prefer to avoid that kind of an historical black mark. [my emphasis]
Rather, I suspect that Specter is speaking from the position of someone who has been in negotiations on such a topic. There are several elements that make me believe that Specter is sending Gonzales a next to last ultimatum here, rather than just blabbing like he normally does.
First, there's the mention of the USA Attorneys' meeting. The WaPo reported that none of the USAs mentioned Gonzales' resignation when they berated him on Wednesday (though the multiple leaks of the meeting itself didn't get published until Saturday). That just feels rather orchestrated to me.
Then, there's the repetition on Specter's part: "a very substantial vote of no confidence." While it is not Specter's job to count votes, I suspect he has a sense of where the vote is right now. And with Wayne Allard--a right winger's right winger--still undecided, there is certainly the room for plenty of no confidence votes.
Mostly, though, there's the feeling that this has been very carefully orchestrated, going back to Monday when McNulty resigned. McNulty's resignation guaranteed BushCo a high profile nomination hearing, no matter what. Schumer made a damaging case against Gonzales on Tuesday. And with Salazar telling Gonzales to go late in the week, the case has certainly been carefully crafted. The issue now, IMO, probably relates to the details of the thing, not least who would be named as the next AG.
But I do believe Specter actually might not be talking outtahisarse this time.