Wednesday, November 2


Hoo boy. David Broder delivers a smackdown to conservatives and Dubya.

But after Bush acquiesced in the conservative movement's uproar denying Miers her chance for an up-or-down Senate vote, or even a hearing in that committee, there is no plausible way the White House can insist that every major judicial nominee deserves such a vote.

That was the rationale behind the threatened "nuclear option" in the Senate, the mid-session rule change that would have banned judicial filibusters. If the mass of Democrats and a few Republicans who may be dismayed by Alito's stands on abortion and other issues can muster the 41 votes needed to sustain a filibuster under current rules, they now have precedent for using their power.

The conservative screamers who shot down Miers can argue that they were fighting only for a "qualified" nominee, though it is plain that many of them wanted more -- a guarantee that Miers would do their bidding and overrule Roe v. Wade . But whatever the rationale, the fact is that they short-circuited the confirmation process by raising hell with Bush. Certainly there can be no greater sin in a sizable bloc of sitting senators using long-standing Senate rules to stymie a nomination than a cabal of outsiders -- a lynching squad of right-wing journalists, self-sanctified religious and moral organizations, and other frustrated power-brokers -- rolling over the president they all ostensibly support.
Politically, the president probably had no choice but to reach back for his conservative base in making the Alito nomination. At his current levels of support, he has no place else to go. But the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll contains a clear warning. Self-described conservatives made up only 31 percent of the electorate. Moderates numbered 44 percent. And the moderates were nearly exact opposites of the conservatives in their views toward Bush, disapproving of his job performance by a 38 to 61 percent margin, while conservatives approved 61 to 39.

The risks of a Supreme Court showdown fight are at least as great for Bush as for the Democrats.

As I said last week, "One gratification resulting from the internecine war of the Republicans over the Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme Court: we won't have to listen to that "up or down vote!" crap on any subsequent SCOTUS nominees. They wouldn't dare the mockery that would ensue." Broder appears to agree.

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