Saturday, July 02, 2005

o'connor replacement watch, day 1

O'Connor has barely submitted her letter of resignation and the political classes are in full swing, variously trying to pressure Bush to pick an appropriate replacement, to pressure Senate Democrats to accept whoever Bush nominates, and trying to mobilize their supporters on the left and right.

Bush made his opening statement: "The nation deserves, and I will select, a Supreme Court justice that Americans can be proud of." (Too bad Papa Bush didn't have the same standard, we would have been spared Clarence Thomas.) "The nation also deserves a dignified process of confirmation in the United States Senate, characterized by fair treatment, a fair hearing and a fair vote." Clearly, Bush means a "yes" vote by a fair vote. The Republicans took the role of the Senate in approving or rejecting judicial nominees very seriously when Clinton was naming judges -- but now of course the Senate should just play the role of the Supreme Soviet and rubberstamp the choices of the maximum leader.

Newt Gingrich said "...I think the majority that elected Bush and the House and Senate clearly expects a very conservative nomination." Surely Newt is aware that more Americans cast votes in 2004 and 2002 and 2000 for Democrats for the House and Senate than Republicans -- and more votes for the Democrat for President in 2000. The combination of gerrymandering in the House and the way rural Republicans are spread out in sparsely populated states that have the same number of Senators as large states like New York or Texas masks that, but it's a fact. Newt, you are not speaking for a majority. Please go back to your science fiction novels and cheating on your wife. Unfortunately though, Gingrich is likely to get a nomination that meets with his approval.

Oklahoma GOP Senator and right-wing nutcase Tom Coburn took the occasion to criticize O'Connor and others for their "self-indulgent judicial activism." No more self-indulgent I guess than Coburn's refusal to give up his medical practice -- Senators are barred by rule from holding other jobs. No more self-indulgent for Coburn's self-serving excuse for why he conducted a few abortions in his doctoring days despite his repeated opposition to abortions in all circumstances. Of course, we know that by self-indulgent Coburn really means "insufficiently conservative."

According to the Post, yesterday staffers for Senate Majority Leader Dr. Bill Frist said that Bush is under no obligation to consult with Democrats and that it is "inappropriate" to ask a nominee about specific issues. I guess the Democrats are supposed to stick to generalities, like "do you think democracy is a good idea?" We should just stick this whole advice & consent thing and just let Bush use his good judgment in selecting people to the courts and administration people. The same good judgment that's given us the war in Iraq, John Bolton, and the famous incitement to insurgents to attack our troops, "bring 'em on."

The most puzzling to me comment sofar is from Tennessee GOP Congressman Zach Wamp (yes, that's his real name) who said that history shows that choosing an easily confirmable justice "is not the proper course of action." What is he going on about? Most justices have been easily confirmable, including some that are clearly extremely conservative. Antonin Scalia was confirmed 98-0 by the Senate in 1986. He is way way conservative but like him or not he's got a brain and was deemed qualified and not too far beyond the political fringe. Wamp wants the President to choose somebody way beyond the pale and ram the choice thru the Senate by holding GOP members' feet to the fire. You know, somebody like single black mother conservative fringe whacko Janice Rogers Brown.

Cross your fingers and hope for somebody like Alberto Gonzales or Michael McConnell.