Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Morning copy 11.01.2005

Judge Samuel "Scalito" Alito

The MSM rank-and-file called the choice of Harriet Miers a "weakness" pick after Katrina and with Iraq weighing poll numbers down.

In truth, Miers was an arrogant, insular pick from the most isolated president since Cool Cal. Bush cooked up that nomination of a loyal Team Bush member -- the one most likely to go to a Hallmark on a whim -- long before his poll numbers plunged.

Alito is a "weakness" pick of a sort, but only of the sort a "weak" president with 55 GOP Senators can make. Bush proudly declared that he had won political capital in 2004 and he intended to spend it. He squandered it on Social Security, an unwillingness to listen to contrary opinions on Iraq, and a pitiful response to a national hurricane crisis.

Thus passed his political capital with the majority of Americans. He then spent his last nickle with a loyalist pick for the Supreme Court. Miers did not fair well with her boss' "gut" decision on that one. Now, Bush's political capital can only originate from the slender ledger of the 35-40 percent in his base.

This nominee will likely be confirmed. But the "weakness" of this pick, the limit of this victory, will nonetheless play out as one episode in a series of mistakes in a terrible term of a terrible president. This was a "survival" pick.

The prodigal "borrow and spend" son, the prodigal "Harriet Miers won't change" son has restored his base but at a great cost to the range and scope he can pursue throughout the remainder of his term. The exact damage is not known. What Alito may decide in important cases will wait for another day. But, the fickle and complex conservative movements in the country have their day.

Ronald Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times has the following analysis on the Alito pick:

"Bush will probably win this fight, but at what price?" said the top political advisor to one Republican senator, who asked not to be named when discussing Alito's nomination.

If nothing else, the choice of Alito illuminated Bush's political priorities for the weeks ahead.

John Dickerson provides some interesting thought on Slate:

The White House has picked a candidate the conservatives in the green room love. Right-wingers in the real world will like Alito, too. And only the pickiest of pundits will note that Bush has zigzagged wildly in his selection criteria. Gone are the bows to affirmative action and judicial diversity that were central to the Miers pick. Gone are the testimonies to the nominee's religious faith. The president did not mention that Alito is a Catholic or opine about the role of religion in his life, as he did with Miers. Alito's religious affiliation was not even mentioned in the official biographical materials the White House released this morning.

Charles Lane's analysis in the Washington Post focuses more on the seat that Alito would fill:

And last year, Alito upheld the death sentence of a convicted Pennsylvania murderer, ruling that his defense lawyers had performed up to the constitutionally required minimum standard. When the case reached the Supreme Court, O'Connor cast a fifth vote to reverse Alito.

The record is clear: On some of the most contentious issues that came before the high court, Alito has been to the right of the centrist swing voter he would replace. As a result, legal analysts across the spectrum saw the Alito appointment yesterday as a bid by President Bush to tilt the court, currently evenly divided between left and right, in a conservative direction.

Dan Balz in the Washington Post sees a potential rebuilding of Bush's presidency with this fight:

Given the state of his presidency and party, Bush may have had no other choice than to name a Supreme Court candidate who would help to heal the divisions within the GOP coalition, even at the risk of further alienating voters in the center. Democrats were convinced the choice would move Bush's image irrevocably to the right, but some Republicans said this is exactly the kind of fight that could help turn around Bush's troubled presidency.

The New York Times on the potential fight:

Having gambled that he could avoid all-out warfare with his nomination of Harriet E. Miers, whom some Democrats had urged him to consider and then let twist in the wind as conservatives savaged her as underqualified and ideologically suspect, Mr. Bush has now reverted to form with a man whose rock-solid academic credentials, long judicial experience and clear-cut conservative views had put him on the president's short list (and some Democrats' blacklist) all along.

The fight is on

Ruth Marcus in the Washington Post:

At this rate, a WASP male from Stanford is going to look like a diversity pick.

The Wall Street Journal:

The left is already attacking his rulings, which we agree are notable, but less for their outcomes than for their legal reasoning. Judge Alito shows every sign of being a careful constitutionalist with a deep respect for precedent.

The Los Angeles Times editorial page:

Alito, who is a judge on the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, is everything that Miers is not: qualified, experienced and male. By nominating him so quickly, Bush has answered the question of whether he would respond to the Miers fiasco by reaching out to moderates or repairing ties to his base. Apparently Bush thinks it is more important to appease extremists in his own party than to appeal to the broad spectrum of Americans.

The Washington Times editorial page:

This is the moment conservatives have been waiting for: a first-rate jurist with an exemplary record.

Judge Alito's combination of experience and youth is virtually unmatched, and he is respected across political boundaries.


The Hill quotes Senator Leahy from the Senate floor:

“I am concerned that the nomination may be a needlessly provocative nomination,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). “Instead of uniting the country, the president chose to reward one faction of his party.”

What really matters is the center. The Washington Post:

"I think the moderate, or pro-choice, Republicans will likely determine the fate of this nomination," said University of North Carolina law professor Michael Gerhardt, a constitutional expert.

CNN reports that Senator Arlen Specter calls this a nominee that ought not be filibustered (that is a word, I guess) under the rules of the Gang of 14. The Gang of 14 will meet on Thursday.

Here is Specter in the Philadelphia Inquirer in July:

At a news conference in Philadelphia, he sharply criticized Bork as "having the most extreme ideology of any nominee ever," while offering praise for federal appeals court Judge Samuel A. Alito, also a conservative, who has been mentioned as a possible replacement for O'Connor.

In other news...

President Bush to discuss bird-flu strategy today, USA Today.

The Washington Post on training Iraqis:

In testimony in September before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gen. John P. Abizaid, who leads the U.S. Central Command, said that a single Iraqi battalion was at "Level 1" combat readiness, meaning it was capable of taking the lead in combat without support from coalition forces. Gen. George W. Casey Jr., who oversees U.S. forces in Iraq said the number of Level 1 battalions had dropped from three to one since June.

Americans troops in Iraq say the reason is simple: The Iraqi forces are only as good as their commanders, and when those commanders are inadequate, transfer, quit or get killed in action, their units often fall apart.

Cheney fills Libby related vacancies in his staff with -- you guessed it -- lower staff members. New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 - The White House on Monday made its first personnel moves since the indictment on Friday of Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby Jr., naming two longtime aides to Mr. Cheney, both of whom were questioned in the C.I.A. leak investigation, to take on Mr. Libby's duties.

This is an outrage. Washington Post story (off the SF Gate site):

Washington -- A new vaccine that protects against cervical cancer has set up a clash between health advocates who want to use the shots aggressively to prevent thousands of malignancies and social conservatives who say immunizing teen-agers could encourage sexual activity.

The Washington Times' Frank Gaffney:

In other words, Tehran's Islamofascists like Mr. Ahmadinejad are as focused today as they were at the time 26 years ago when, in the midst of the Iranian revolution, they sacked our embassy and seized our diplomats. The main enemy -- the "Great Satan" -- for Iran's regime remains the United States. Unless prevented from doing so, it will persist, both on its own and in league with others, to bring about our destruction, as well as that of other freedom-loving people.


Blogger Bassizzzt said...

Yep! Just as I predicted it would be.

No matter who the president picks, the liberals always have something negative to say about it.

Instead of "progressive" they need to re-name their moniker "regressive" because that word so best describes complainers and those who are never satisfied.

Instead of making self-improvements on the inside, like selecting new and effective leadership within their own party, the left will always be looking for ways for the president to improve, and we thank them for that.

PS - Scalito is an excellent candidate.

9:24 AM  
Blogger copy editor said...

I don't expect the Dems to accomplish much with Scalito. Nor do I expect much from them in 2006 or 2008 with the present leadership. It's your summer, our winter. These things change though.

9:35 AM  
Blogger skiphunt said...

I haven't read this anywhere, and I don't follow politics as much as I should... but, doesn't it look like the Mier's offering was intended as a sacrifice to get all the opposition to dump their firey payload on her, then she'd conveniently withdraw and the neo-cons would offer up Alito whom they really wanted to begin with?

The figured with support low for Bush they wouldn't be able to get an Alito nomination to sail through.. so they offer up someone ridiculous, overtake the media with opposition, then when all the opposition is exhausted, offer up their "real" choice?

Seems like their plan worked beautifully... hell, it might have even been Miers' idea.

9:54 AM  
Blogger copy editor said...

That's a really interesting point, skiphunt. I think Bush and Miers are too buddy buddy for that scenario, but who knows with this White House.

10:19 AM  
Blogger Bassizzzt said...

Skiphunt offers a very interesting scenario indeed!

Even myself being a conservative wouldn't put it past the Bush camp to pull off such demagoguery, brilliant tactic!

3:13 PM  

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