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Monday, September 17, 2007

Beldar's initial reaction to the Mukasey nomination for Attorney General

Let's get something straight right off the bat. I disagree on matters of politics with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) almost all of the time. But I don't worry that, if given the chance, he'd wire a gas tank to explode my family car or mastermind a plot to crash a jet airliner into the Capitol. He's not my enemy in that sense.To the contrary, I genuinely believe that in his own mind, he says what he says and votes the way he votes because he thinks that's the best way to serve the country that he and I both love. So the mere fact that Chuck Schumer may not be bouncing off the ceiling to oppose new U.S. Attorney General nominee Michael B. Mukasey is no valid reason for me to doubt the wisdom of that appointment.

I'm better acquainted with Ted Olson's history and credentials. It's been funny to watch pundits on the left foam at the mouth at the prospect of him being nominated instead. "Too partisan!" they shriek ... by which they mean, he and his team whipped David Boies and his team during Bush v. Gore in 2000. But there's certainly more than one person in the U.S. who's qualified to be Attorney General. Judge Mukasey looks to me like he's one of them, and probably very near the top of what's not a very large heap.

I'm impressed that Judge Mukasey (pronounced "mew-KAY-see") has not only prosecutorial experience (four years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York), but management experience within the DoJ (two years as Chief of the DoJ's Official Corruption Unit). I'm impressed that he has many years of private practice experience โ€” because yes, it's useful for government attorneys to have gain perspectives from the "real world" outside of government. I'm impressed that he's got judicial experience, again from the Southern District of New York, whose dockets include the richest and deepest mix of civil and criminal matters imaginable. Top that off with more administrative experience, this Pres. Bush & AG-nominee Michael B. Mukasey (Reuters photo)time as Chief Judge of the Southern District of New York. Altogether, that's an impressive mix and combination of experiences.

And forgive me, but I have very little patience for "Righter-than-thou" skeptics like Mark Levin. Over sixty-two million Americans voted to put the power of nominating cabinet secretaries from January 2005 to January 2009 into George W. Bush's hands. That's the way the system works: He picks, he's accountable. He's accountable for decisions that look bad in hindsight, and if you want to criticize him for the outgoing AG, the buck does indeed stop in the Oval Office. But he's also accountable for nominating Supreme Court Justices โ€” and credit for that is also due, and must be considered when someone's impugning a nominee without much more basis than a lack of sufficient trust in the nominator. Nothing in the system requires the president to pick the potential nominee whom pundits like Levin would like best. And indeed, the system obliges the president to consider factors that Levin may ignore outright. Rabid dog-slobber may well be the best thing for Levin's radio ratings, but that doesn't necessarily coincide with what's best for the Bush-43 Administration, the Republican Party, the DoJ, or ultimately for America. Levin is entitled to express and argue his own opinions. But I am not at all receptive to the suggestion that I'm "insufficiently conservative" if I support the president both in big fights when he picks them, and on those other occasions when he's chosen not to.

In the meantime, Judge Mukasey's record is out there for all to see. Lawyers whose judgment I respect, including but not limited to Andy McCarthy, who have extensive first-hand experience with him praise him highly. He'll run the nationally televised gauntlet in the Judiciary Committee, where perhaps a few Democratic senators will manage to behave like grownups and maybe even nonpartisan Americans for long enough to vote. I'll come to a final opinion based on his performance then, but for now, I pronounce myself well satisfied with this nomination.

Posted by Beldar at 07:51 PM in Global War on Terror, Law (2007), Politics (2007) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Beldar's initial reaction to the Mukasey nomination for Attorney General and sent a trackback ping are listed here:


(1) DRJ made the following comment | Sep 18, 2007 12:20:57 AM | Permalink

I agree with all the things that impress you about Judge Mukasey and I'll add one more: I'm impressed that he would come out of retirement to do this. Being AG is long, thankless work and Mukasey has undoubtedly worked long, thankless hours for many years.

I don't see how this benefits Mukasey in a professional or personal sense and I'm sure it will take a personal toll by exposing him to the ceaseless ridicule and harping that follows all Bush Administration appointees.

(2) Patterico made the following comment | Sep 18, 2007 1:40:50 AM | Permalink

I'm disappointed to see Olson mistreated like this, but Mukasey looks like a good nominee.

(3) Dan S made the following comment | Sep 18, 2007 7:37:46 AM | Permalink

I would have loved to see Olson nominated (and the major brouhaha), but clearly W doesn't want that war at this time. Maybe there's something he's saving his ammo for.

Meanwhile, this pick looks better than solid. It will be interesting to see how the Dem senators comport (or not) themselves in the coming days.

I wonder how fast a Schumer can spin...

(4) anduril made the following comment | Sep 18, 2007 8:33:02 AM | Permalink

Realistically, Mukasey is being nominated for a one year term as legal caretaker for the War on Terror--or whatever you choose to call it. Other important legal issues may come up during this last year of the Bush Administration, but the likelihood is that National Security issues will be by far the most important issues Mukasey will face. Both his experience and his published opinion pieces in the WSJ on National Security matters suggest that he's a good choice for this role.

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