. . . The Founding Fathers put the Senate "advise and consent" clause into the Constitution partly to combat cronyism. In Federalist No. 76, Alexander Hamilton opposed the president's nominees "being in some way or other personally allied to him." . . .
The first sentence is right, but the quote in the second is incomplete in an important way: Hamilton wrote (emphasis added),
[The President] would be both ashamed and afraid to bring forward, for the most distinguished or lucrative stations, candidates who had no other merit than that of coming from the same State to which he particularly belonged, or of being in some way or other personally allied to him . . . .
Novak may in fact think that Gonzales has no other merit, or that (as his column suggests) Bush hasn't made enough of a substantive case for Gonzales' merits. But it's important to recognize that Hamilton, worldly politician that he was, never suggested that friendship (which often carries with it justifiable trust and respect) was an improper criterion for appointment -- only that it shouldn't be a sufficient criterion.