Monday, October 31, 2005

The Politics of the Alito Nomination

The Politics of the Alito Nomination

Conservative judge Samuel A. Alito has been nominated for SCOTUS by President Bush.

Bush winds up looking weak, weak, weak (Oh- and did I say weak?)

The stiff ghosts of truth have been biting at the heels of GW Bush in the aftermath of Scooter Libby's indictment and Harriet Miers' rejection by the religious right. The newspapers are ripe with a plentiful harvest of stories about the way Bush has hit political "rock-bottom" - and the rightwing pundits talk their happy-talk about how it can be only "up from here" for Bush.

Like a good boy, Bush has sent the religious right back into their cages and has proved to American voters (all across the board - not just Democrats) that he (and his party) desperately need the Dobsonites and Falwellians to hold onto power.

Citizens' common values are once again cast aside for a far more narrow (bowling-alley-shaped) version of "values" - with only one or two hot-button issues in focus. What an insult to citizens! American values are about so much more than one or two issues!

Harriet Miers was a "religious woman" - an "evangelical Christian" - and she was not good enough for the far religious right. Why? She was not an extreme ideologue with a track record.

I believe that the Democrats on the "Gang of 14" were remiss when they agreed to the limiting compromise on the filibuster rules in the name of "bipartisanship". Perhaps they felt it was all they could do at the time (to avoid Frist's Nuclear Option,) and to me, that is only a tribute to their ineffective communication of conviction, values, and leadership. Democratic leadership can do so much better!

Because of this "Gang of 14" filibuster-suicide pact, a SCOTUS nominee's philosophical views must amount to "extraordinary circumstances" in order for a filibuster to be deemed as "justified" - - but it can only be related to questions of personal ethics or character - not ideology.

In other words, I don't doubt that Alito will get an "up or down" vote. The Dems will only risk the threat of Nuclear Option if they attempt to filibuster.

Last Spring, in the name of all Democrats, seven Democratic representatives gave up opposition to three of Bush's bench nominees in exchange for nothing but the promise of a "nuclear option" showdown somewhere down the line.

I said it (last May and last July, (see: Dems Shouldn't Have Compromised on Filibuster)
I think you will now see the chickens of Democratic political miscalculation come home to roost. It's pretty much a no-win situation. The goalposts on the showdown on the Nuclear Option were simply moved - and the return "gift" was Pryor, Brown, and Owen on the bench. (With gifts like that - who needs gifts, already?)

When our only hope is to have a Republican like John McCain act as "big hero" and join in with Dems on agreeing to the terms of a filibuster, it is McCain who comes out to be the big political hero for centrist voters of all stripes. Grrrr.

Think 2008.
I believe the seven Dems were suckered into making guys like McCain look like Superman - while they looked like soggy marshmallows.


DemFromCT has a recommendation at The Next Hurrah to brush up on Kagro X's Nuclear Option series. He says that we're going to need it before we're done.

Update: At the Next Hurrah, DHinMI sees the glass half-full, where I have been more pessimistic about the political outcome I foresee when the smoke has cleared from the Alito nomination:
There's "....a greater likelihood that the Republicans could find themselves in a minority in 2007, and may wonder about the wisdom of getting rid of the filibuster just as they may need it." - DHinMI
I"m looking at this from the Republican mindset - with an eye always on the future. I still believe this is the perfect political posturing-opportunity for 2008, and John McCain will come out smelling like a rose, leaving Frist in the dust.

This and That

This and That

I cannot help but to question the dignity of seasoned journalist Mike Wallace after hearing him on the Don Imus show this morning - in an interview where he seemed mentally scattered - calling for the firing (or resignation) of Dan Rather. What a catty thing to suggest, especially since the media storm over the whole thing has now blown over. To me, it appears to be lacking in grace and collegiality.

Speaking of Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume, whether consciously or unconsciously, showed yesterday that he still links being black with the civil rights demonstrators in Birmingham, Alabama circa 1963. He looked at Juan Williams, didn't like what he was hearing from Mr. Williams, and loudly proclaimed, "Someone needs to hose you down." What a jerk.

According to Media Matters, Brit Hume recently made false statements that "..'no one was prosecuting' those who violated a Connecticut law that prohibited the use or provision of contraceptives, which was overturned in the U.S. Supreme Court's 1965 decision in Griswold v. Connecticut -- the case that established the constitutional right to privacy. He got a hearty (and blatantly false) agreement from Douglas W. Kmiec, a constitutional law professor at Pepperdine University (who also called CSPAN this morning crowing about Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court.) Misinformation abounds on Fox News.

Alito's nomination sends the Religious Right back into their cages. It just goes to show you that Bush would never have been President had it not been for the radical religious leaders who pull his strings. White evangelical Christians are catching on to the sham of the myth of "Bush as remaker of America in God's image." In the most recent Pew Research Center survey, there has been a significant decline in favorable ratings of the GOP among white evangelicals and Catholics.

The same Pew survey lists former Senator John Edwards as the least polarizing Democrat in the field of potential 2008 presidential candidates. See my One America guest-blogpost.