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May 23, 2005


more Bush 'charm offensive':

Behind the scenes, however, the White House has become an active player. As recently as Tuesday, the vice president met with Republican senators behind closed doors to make the administration’s case for holding up-or-down votes on its judicial nominees. A top presidential aide, Tim Goeglein, the White House public liaison, regularly participates in conference calls and strategy sessions with outside groups seeking to pressure wavering Republican senators. Other White House aides have been involved, such as Candi Wolff, head of the congressional liaison office, who last week shepherded Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla R. Owen and California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown around Capitol Hill for meetings and photo-ops. Brown and Owen are the most visible of Bush’s judicial nominees who were blocked by filibusters in the last Congress.

Bush’s strategy reflects a tricky balance that he and his strategists must maintain in the high-stakes effort to overcome solid Democratic opposition to some of his judicial nominees. Democrats have said that they have filibustered a small number of Bush’s judicial nominees because they find them to be extremists and judicial activists. They have accused the targeted nominees of relying more on conservative ideologies than the merits of the case in formulating their legal decisions.

Much as the president wants to see his nominees confirmed, the White House must guard against heavy-handed tactics that could easily offend senatorial sensitivities.

“Basically what the president is saying is: ‘I really need these judges confirmed. How you work that out is up to you,’ ” said Paul Weyrich, a conservative activist with ties to the White House. “They are walking a fine line.”

Still, Bush and his activist Republican base can ill afford a loss on such a high-profile matter at a time when some of his second-term priorities, such as Social Security restructuring, are struggling in Congress.

“The White House and the Republicans need a victory here because it’s been a tough few months for the president legislatively,” said Stephen Moore, president of the Free Enterprise Fund, which advocates free-enterprise policies.

Where have I heard that before?

I wonder if Senators' BRAC calculus should be different in time of "war."

It's clearly never a good thing to have a base close in your state -- or at least we can say it's a safe knee-jerk reaction to have, to want to oppose such a closure -- but I wonder whether that's a reflex we've developed in "peacetime," more as a substitute for being "pro-military" than as a jobs issue.

Everyone wants to protect jobs, naturally, but it's always been my impression that the BRAC rarely targets bases that are truly the lifeblood of the surrounding area. Now that's not something I would want to have to tell someone whose livelihood actually is threatened by a closure, but I think it's worth considering.

What I mean is, is the political risk of losing a base different now, when a Senator has so many other ways to express "support for a strong military?" Old habits die hard, of course, and there's no way people at home are just going to change their minds about the value of their bases, but losing a base really ought to be considered less of a threat these days, as long as the Senators strike the appropriate poses during the process.

heh - tell that to Rob Simmons CT-2. And maine doesn't have a lot of other things to substitute. Lobstah on ice will only travel so far...

In a perfect Nuclear World, Senators like Collins would respond to apparent pressure like this by threatening to leave the party, like Jeffords did. I know it won't happen (and for some good reasons) but...if you ask me, there's no time like the present to begin the fracturing of the GOP from the left, too (it's already begun on the right of course)!

Collins is gutless, through and through.

She'll vote with Frist -- she woke up last week with not one, but three, horses' heads in her bed -- Portsmouth, Brunswick and Limestone -- and even though I know and you know, and probably she knows, that after a cosmetic 'reconsideration', they'll close anyways -- career officers, disproportionately Southern, do not like being posted to this cold, blue, golf-course poor state.

And Senator Susie Creamcheese (R-Codependent) will say 'please, sir, I want some more'.

Because even abuse is a form of attention.

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