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Monday, February 21, 2005

Specter as ghoul in the middle?

A regular reader from Dubya's hometown of Midland, Texas, emailed me with this link to a USA Today article quoting Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee (internal hyperlinks omitted; ellipsis by USA Today, although it's unclear whether it's to indicate a verbal pause or a deletion):

[Sen. Specter] said he hopes Bush will consult not only Republicans about the next Supreme Court nominee but also Democrats like Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Vermont's Sen. Patrick Leahy, the top Judiciary Committee Democrat. Chief Justice William Rehnquist, ailing with thyroid cancer, announced Friday that he'll miss the next two weeks of oral arguments. "My hope would be ... that there's an orderly transition at the end of the term" in June, Specter said.

One can only hope that Sen. Specter was quoted out of context here — i.e., that he's not hoping for Chief Justice Rehnquist's imminent death or resignation due to illness. As my reader wrote in her email: "I wonder how Sen. Specter would feel if the Supreme Court Justices speculated on how Sen. Specter has cancer and thus will need to be eased out at the end of the current Senate term?"

It's hard to imagine how the last paragraph of this article might have taken Sen. Specter's statements out of context, however. Rather, it appears to be frighteningly candid (ellipsis again by USA Today):

Next week, [Sen. Specter] plans to open hearings on the first of 20 judicial candidates renominated by Bush after their failure to win confirmation last year. He hopes to dissuade Democrats from filibustering. "I think I may be helpful ... as the man in the middle," he said.

Denny Crane would have no trouble pegging Sen. Specter as a "nanzy-panzy." I wish the Senator a swift and full recovery from his own medical problems. But I also wish, in the meantime, that he didn't see himself as some sort of Jim Jeffords clone. I'm fairly certain that the Senate Republicans who entrusted him with the Judiciary Committee chair expected him to at least try to actually lead it, not play "the man in the middle."

Posted by Beldar at 05:49 PM in Law (2006 & earlier), Politics (2006 & earlier) | Permalink


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(1) James B. Shearer made the following comment | Feb 22, 2005 6:09:44 PM | Permalink

I have to disagree regarding Rehnquist. If Rehnquist has become (or is becoming) unfit to discharge the duties of his important position naturally Specter is hoping he will recognize this and resign gracefully. I don't see any particular reason for Specter to want to force Rehnquist out prematurely.

(2) Mark made the following comment | Feb 24, 2005 4:02:19 PM | Permalink

Amen, Beldar.

(3) Carol Herman made the following comment | Feb 27, 2005 10:42:07 AM | Permalink

How come men, in particular, can understand baseball statistics; and yet when we discuss the senate, everyone forgets that it's in the vote count?

100 men (includes women), have been elected to represent the fine citizens of this country. And, in particular, on this issue of Federal judgeships, these 100 people (there, that's better); give thumbs up or thumbs down to the president's nominees in something CLARIFIED IN OUR CONSITUTION, called "Advise and Consent." Sure, Specter chairs the Committee of senators that does the first "paperwork" process on how these nominees reach the floor for a vote. (The committee's rules have some established precidents. And, a reality that the judicial branch is loathe to interfere with another's governing body.) But unlike actually "advising and consenting," it's possible that powerful rules were put into play more to protect turf, than to fairly judge the nominees. It's here that things get ticklish. The Senate Majority Leader needs to COUNT THE VOTES! (And, he needs to worry about outcomes down the road.)

Let me give you an example. One that may come into future review for a rollback? When FDR was president there were no "term limits" AND the republican party was LOCKED OUT OF THE WHITE HOUSE. Politicans with ambition closed this door by limiting a president to 2 terms. Yes, this helped the republicans regain the White House. But like a flip of the coin, sometimes that's good. And, sometimes that's bad. (If there were no term limits in place, we'd have Bill Clinton still in office, ya know.)

And, Dr. Frist has to COUNT how the vote falls among 100 egotistical maniacs. Oops. Pardon, the burp. Anyway, intelligent adults have to know what's POSSIBLE HERE ... and what some people at the republican base "expect." Like a bride being built from opposite sides, you have to hope that near completion the two sections meet in the middle.

Pity poor Specter. An unenviable job. Do you think that because the republicans have 55 members you're gonna get agreement through a rubber stamp? Ask a maitre d'hotel how the seating would work in a restaurant. It's not far different. About 10 republicans have vested interests in "moderation." And, now that the democrats have lost power (and reasoning capacity), they're more likely than not, to cause trouble.

I've read where some of the senators could be called "Boll Weevils," (democrats, like Zell Miller, who got disgusted with their own party's agenda); and,"Gypsy Moths," (RINOSs).

Can we begin counting, now? Remember, too, that the MSM is hostile to republicans. And, their cameras whir for Charles Schumer. That now with BLOGS you have some chance at getting to a massive number of people, the information they need not to be blitzed into thinking Bush's nominees are evil. Or so inherently biased that a single, regressive, point of view, emerges.

Will the future fights look like they did when Bork was defeated? Condi met a hostile vetting process. But the republicans are in a better position. Why? Because the democratic senators who approached the microphones, disgraced themselves.

It should be interesting to see how Bush handles himself with the opportunities that are ahead. A confrontational full force fight? Why? He's not desperate. He doesn't have to throw a "Hail Mary Pass," here. And, there are really good people out there who can be chosen.

One thing Bush's appointment(s) need is a "unifier." Not a victory dance under the goal posts. But a decent play where MOST Americans are pleased with the results.

And, that should be part of "coach" Frist's counting process, too. "PLAY BALL." It always had a meaning that included a fun spirit to it.

Rehnquist is so sick, that it's just a matter of time. Specter, too, is now a very sick man. That's why the ball's in play. And, that's why "coach" Frist has to exercize keen judgment.

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