O’Connor & Snatching Defeat From The Mouth Of Victory
O’Connor’s retirement is great news for conservatives and not just because she was like the “dice of justice,” a woman who might side with either the liberals or conservatives on the court based on her mood, which way the wind was blowing, and how much sleep she got last night, but because Rehnquist is a practically guaranteed retirement as well. So Bush is going to get to appoint at least 2 SCOTUS justices and who can say how long ultra liberal, 85-year old justice John Paul Stevens is going to hang in there? Imagine Bush replacing all three: ooh, would that be a sweet, sweet dream for conservatives!
Furthermore, the Democrats are in a real pickle here. There are 55 Republicans and given the current political climate, all of them are going to feel enormous pressure to vote for Bush’s nominee. So unless Bush were to nominate an ax murderer or alternately Alberto Gonzales, the chances of one of his nominees losing a floor vote are practically zero. Moreover, since the Democrats have been making such a cacophonous din about so many of Bush’s judicial nominees to lower courts, the public is going to see the howling over Bush’s pick for what it is: political posturing. Of course, the Dems could filibuster, but at this point, Republicans like Mike DeWine and Lindsey Graham have been so savagely beaten by the base that they’d probably love the opportunity to try to get back in their good graces by voting for the nuclear option. You can just hear the spin now:
“I felt trying to compromise with the Democrats was the right thing to do. But, when they broke the agreement by filibustering the President’s Supreme Court nominee and crossed my buddies in the conservative base, it was time for me to swing into action — because nobody, and I mean nobody, messes with the Republican base when Mike DeWine is on the job. I love you guys and I’ll always stick up for conservatives, always! Conservatives up, RINO’s down foo’! Peace out!”
Ok, maybe that’s a bit overwrought, but you get the idea.
Of course, there is one thing that can spoil this whole event for conservatives and that would be the ever present danger that the Republicans in Washington will get into a can’t lose position, have victory right in their grasp and then say: “Uh, I don’t really like this whole winning thing so much. You Democrats can have this one.”
There are two ways that could happen. The first is if the Democrats’ filibuster, which is entirely possible by the way, and the Republicans don’t respond with the nuclear option. On one hand common sense says that if you’re a Republican in a fight like this — that your party desperately needs to win and the people who’re voting for you care about deeply — you don’t vote with the other side. But, then there’s the McCain school of logic which goes:
“My party desperately needs this and the base wants it more than anything, so I’m going to prove how moderate I am to the world by screwing them.”
So this is possible problem #1.
Possible problem #2 is that Bush will break his campaign promise to appoint more judges like Scalia & Thomas to the court — which as far as I’m concerned is just as important as his father’s, “Read my lips, no new taxes” pledge — and will appoint his good buddy Alberto Gonzales instead. Unfortunately, for Bush, the base doesn’t want Gonzales first, second, third — heck, if Bush got to appoint nine justices, conservatives wouldn’t want Alberto to be number #9.
Look, I understand friendship and loyalty, I understand wanting to look out for a pal. But come on, Bush has already made Gonzales the Attorney General, so how much more does he need to do for the guy? AG should be enough for anybody….especially when there are so many other great candidates out there that the base would probably be perfectly happy with like Miguel Estrada, William Pryor, Janice Rogers Brown, J. Michael Luttig, Samuel Alito Jr., John Roberts, Emilio Garza, Teddy Olson, Larry Thompson, & John Cornyn. Heck, even candidates with less impressive conservative credentials in some people’s eyes like Michael McConnell, James Harvie Wilkinson, & Edith Jones would be far preferable to the man whose name, Gonzales, is as the joke goes, Spanish for Souter.
So, there’s a big win for conservatives in the making here, folks, as long as the pols in Washington don’t throw it away…