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September 21, 2005


"Scottish Compromise." An excellent characterization.

Wonder what he's gonna do when he stamps his feet and says no, and Frist moves to discharge the nomination from committee?

Uh ... he'll go for a cancer checkup? Ask nicely for a recount?

Inevitably it will something totally ineffective.

And anyone (Leahy?) who agreed to roll for Roberts on the strength of assurances made will be left holding the bag.

I believe Barney Frank perfectly described the m.o. of the moderate Republican as a three-stage process: ineffectual protest, abject surrender, instant regret. Repeat as necessary.

What assurances have been made? So many folks keep saying that Roberts is no Bork, Scalia or Thomas that sometimes I want to believe it myself. Maybe poor Arlen secretly suspects that Roberts will make everybody uncomfortable in his first nine months as CJ and a delay in getting O'Connor's seat filled would either persuade Bush to go for a more moderate nominee, or give Bush foes the ammo they need to squelch anybody but a moderate.

If so, it's an arcane (and stillborn) approach.


Laugh out loud. Thanks for that.

But I think at this point we need to add, "brief moment of apocalyptic horror" between protest and surrender.


It wouldn't be a Scottish Compromise if it weren't arcane, now would it?

There are no moderate Republicans. When they face pressure from teh right wing, they act like abused spouses.

There is a theory that Bush knows that Roberts WON'T vote to overturn Roe, at least not for a few years. Rove kows it would be very bad for the Repubs in the suburbs, and they need a live issue to keep the base stirred up. Conversely, overturning Roe energizes liberals and letting it slowly bleed to death just gives us more of what we have had for the last several years.

I am relly disappointed at Leahy. Just after the Bush election Josh Marshall had a great post in which he said that the only power the Dems have left is the power to withhold the fig leaf of bipartisanship from Bush's worst initiatives. They did it on Social Security and the Katrina whitewash panle, but the Roberts vote is inexplicable to me. It is just more of the "I was for the war because I didn't want to appear weak but now it is a mess" stuff. Wanting David Broder's good opinion or something. What did they have to lose by voting no on the same basis that Reid did? What principle of comity are we going to see if by some miracle we take the WH in 2008?

Yes, I'm very disappointed in Leahy. And by now I can't imagine any Democrat trusting in any "assurances," especially from Arlen the Weasel. For all the years of lip-service he's given to his vaunted moderation, I can't remember a a single significant instance of his backing up the rhetoric with any meaningful action when it would have made a difference (IIRC, Bork was scaring small children by the time he had to put his vote on the line). Somehow the Dems have got to be ready at the starting gate on the next nominee, the one who could ensure that Bushco get their wish list. (I fantasize about Bush's pick of one of the nutcases prompting O'Connor's dramatic withdrawal of her resignation; but I tend to be delusional.)

You know, the crazy bastid may just get his way. O'Connor never resigned, she just said she would if her seat could be filled. It's frowned upon to switch justices in a term, hence recess nominations. Time may elapse, especially with a weakened prezedent.

You know what keeps ME awake at night these days? Pumping out good energy to keep alive a Justice I thought was a loser when he was appointed: John Paul Stevens. May he live to be 100.

That's my nightly prayer, MB...

Yeah, I pray for Stevens too.

I also heard another option which I thought might be a good strategy. Instead of voting against Roberts the Democrats could simply abstain. Bush refused to cooperate by providing memos from Roberts' time in the Solicitor General's office, so Democrats will refuse to participate in this sham process by voting against.

This is a no-win situation. With the number of Republicans currently in the Senate, I think that a Democrat strategy of supporting Roberts and using him to bludgeon the next nominee is better than opposing him and being told that no one will ever be good enough for you.

I don't think Roberts is going to make everyone uncomfortable or horrify people when he gets on the Court. He is a people-pleaser, and he won't use the fire-breathing rhetoric of Scalia that tends to upset people. He may be dangerous in his own way, but not in a way that will get attention.

If Specter opposed Roberts he probably would have done more to fight him, since he has little to lose at this point in his career.

I think they are hoping, even if they know better, that Bush is so weakened he will nominate another stealth or a "consensus" candiate, as Roberts was, and they're shoring themselves up in case he isn't.

I like the abstain idea too. If they could do it with discipline, it would make Roberts the lowest supported real judge ever.

Empty Wheel, I like a lot of what you have to say, but frankly, your assertion is asinine.

Not to make too fine a point of it, but why exactly should Arlen Specter, Lincoln Chafee, Olympia Snowe, or any other "moderate" Republican alienate their base and vote against John Roberts when 15-20 Dems are obviously poised to vote for his confirmation, including the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee?

If you want to peel off a few moderates as the opposition party to defeat a nomination, you first have to unite your caucus. We didn't exactly even try that, did we?

As far as I'm concerned, the Senate Dems blundered badly here, and it may very well come back to haunt them in the second-go-round.

Yeah, I like the abstention idea too; and it could appeal to Dems who can't gird themselves for a "no" vote. Wonder if anybody's actually considering it...

Assuming nobody is, then James, I hope you're right that some Dem support for Roberts will serve us well in the next round; I have my doubts. As for his not being a fire-breather, to me that's precisely what makes him dangerous: a Mr. Congeniality can be a far more effective majority-maker than a looney toon. And on Specter, it seems to me that all he opposes is the idea of losing his Senate seat, and his chairmanship. I can't imagine that he actually believes he holds any sway at all over Bush; I see all those feints of his as playing to the home crowd, and the media.

Maybe a few of the "moderate" Republicans actually have a vestigial core in there somewhere, but they've spent so many years compromising that they don't even see how completely they've capitulated. Just like most of the Democrats, unfortunately. And so here we are, with Little Lord 40% poised to dictate our kids' future. But hey, I'm sure the Roberts vote is part of the Dems' wily setup for their crackerjack battle plan for the O'Connor spot. (Heavy sigh...)

Desert Rat

Which part of it is asinine?

rj, not to be morbid, but I think this is going to be Specter's last term, and he will be lucky, given his health, to serve the full term. When I watched his performance in the hearings he seemed genuinely concerned about precedent, Roe, and so on. I have never been that trustful of Specter, but I was extremely impressed by the man I saw during these hearings. I don't know if he will fight against a far-right nominee, but I'm a lot more confident in that than I would have been 6 months ago.

I'm not one to go to on this anyway, probably, because my instincts tell me that Roberts will be much better than the GOP expects. I know that I'm probably wrong, but I can't shake that feeling that in the end he will be closer to us than to the Dobsons and Roves.

Probably a dead thread, but just to wrap up: James, I hold out hope that you're right about Roberts; there's just enough out there on his temperament, his ambition, and Court history to keep me from being 100% sure of my pessimistic take. I guess we'll find out.

On Specter, I'd like to agree with you, and I have certainly hoped that his condition would prompt him to relocate his soul; but his history is replete with instances of impressive lip-service followed by yet another party-line vote, and so far this episode looks no different (to me). My fantasy here is that he does plan to be a mensch on the O'Connor replacement, and that that's what he's relaying to the White House and to Leahy, which led Leahy to vote the way he did. Again, I hope you're right; again, we'll see...

Chafee bucked the entire caucus on the Iraq war; there was every reason for him to be a dissenter here, and every reason for the GOP to let him do so, given that he is up for reelection in a blue state next year. Now he may even lose the infamous NARAL endorsement.

The fact is, the Republicans NEED a high vote total on this one, to prove that Bush did right by the country and proposed a consensus nominee. Just like Clinton when he went with Orrin Hatch's recommendations, Bush is in a bad way right now and he needs an easy win. Why else would the GOP make such a big deal out of the vote total, going out of their way to lobby the media with the talking point "if the Dems vote no, they'll lose all credibility"? The answer is that they are afraid of the consequences of a unified no vote from the Dems - Roberts gets in either way, but if the public doesn't like his decisions, the GOP gets all the fallout.

With the Dem caucus ending up divided, the playing field looks much like it did for the Iraq war - no matter how badly things pan out, it will be hard for the Democrats to level any criticism, since they went along with it too.

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