With the coming confirmation fight we will now see what the Democrats and Harry Reid are made of. I have a suggestion for them. It's the same suggestion I sent, to no avail, in a letter to Tom Daschle back in the first Bush administration. The Dems need to make an issue of the "advise" part of "advise and consent" phrase and put together their own list of potential nominees. There is almost no hope that they can get Bush to pick one of them but I think it is important in the framing of the debate that they try. I would put together a list of about a dozen candidates and tell the president that absent any unforeseen information coming to light any of the twelve could expect swift confirmation. On the list put 3 or 4 names that you would love to have but know you would never get, 3 or 4 names of candidates that you name just to appeal to whatever constituency you need to make happy that week, and, most importantly 3 or 4 moderate to conservative nominees that you don't really care for but figure you can live with considering that the alternative from Bush will be much much worse. The best case scenario is that Bush (currently at a low point in public popularity) decides to forego a big fight (maybe saving that for chief justice or just worried about midterm elections) and picks someone we can life with. We then hope he or she turns out like Souter. Of course I have seen nothing in the last 5 years that makes me think W would do anything other than make the most extreme nomination possible but that doesn't mean we shouldn't at least try. If nothing else having a list out there changes the grounds of the debate a little. Instead of just having to argue in a vacuum that W's nominee is unsuitable for the court we will be able contrast him or her with a list of other acceptable candidates and ask publicly, "Why did you nominate the controversial X rather than the universally respected Y that we promised would be easily confirmed? You are obviously more concerned with politics than with a fair and impartial Supreme Court?" Will that be enough to win the battle? Likely not, but it will help and it's about time we got out in front of an issue for a change.
Update: Now that I think about it this also help's set the table for a filibuster if needed. The agreement worked out a couple months ago said the Dems would only resort to a filibuster in extraordinary circumstances. It's hard to make the case that someone is so extreme as to be unsuitable for the court (OK, it's not hard to make that argument to me or most 3WN readers but it is to people who have only gotten the limited information TV news is likely to give out.) On the other hand it is easier to make that case when you can say the president has rejected an entire list of highly qualified and respected judges to try to force thru a purely ideological pick.
Update II: It looks like Reid has already made a few suggestions. That's not a bad start but it seems to be more in the way of helpful suggestions rather than setting the table for a political fight. From past behavior we should know that W has no interest in consensus, all he understands is hardball politics. He will never meet us half way out of the goodness of his heart, he'll only do it if we make it in his interests to do so. In order to do that we need to set up the fight on our terms (to the limited extent that we can do that) and start making the point that there is an easy way to do this and a politically partisan way to do it. I know the public would prefer the former and we have to make sure they hear our plan first so that they are prepared to reject W's when it comes out. We can't win a head to head fight on this, our only chance is to make W want to avoid one.
I was interested to see what 3WN had to say about this- your plan sounds very solid Thorson- If only.....dakotabeth
Now that's what we're looking for! A big story hits the news and people ask right away, "What does 3WN have to say about this?"
It is your source. For everything.
I predict an all out bloody battle over this one. The stakes are high and the social direction of the country is at stake. I don't expect Bush to nominate a "centrist". I look forward to a spirited debate.
By 8:58 PM, at
Bush won't nominate a centrist, to be sure. I won't fault him for nominating a strong conservative, even. That's what the American people seem to want. The question is whether Bush will nominate someone so out of the mainstream that no Democrats can support him or her. I think that is fairly likely, too, but quite a shame.
YOur best bet for a centrist at this time is the current attorney general. Not that he is a centrist, however, he presents less of an idealouge than some other potential names. It would give the Dems a chance to vote in a new Judge and point to the fact they do not reject everyone. I know I can hear the rumblings already on voting him in but one must take the cards as dealt. Bush pays back loyalty and Gonzalez has been very loyal and part of W's inner circle. He took the hits on human rights during his confirmation hearings so he scores extra points in W's tally sheet. It also would continue w's outreach to the Hispanic vote. Plus the extreme right think he is soft on abortion.
Reid should also start waving around the list of Senators whom he included on his list as acceptable nominees.
By 11:35 PM, at
Gonzalez has to be on the short list. Despite his legal opinion on torture, I think he's far less objectionable than Owen or Brown.
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