Chairman Specter Goes Wobbly

This really is not good:

The leadership of the Senate and of the Senate Judiciary Committee emerged from meeting President Bush shortly after 8 a.m.
Names were mentioned, although not by the President.
Several Senators stressed that they had urged the President not to choose a nominee from a federal appeals court but rather someone with “practical” experience.
This is clearly emerging as a sub-theme and perhaps might be seen in the context of some suggestions that a Senator or former Senator ought to be nominated so as to help obtain a smooth confirmation.
Specter said he felt “comfortable” that there would be someone “who is a consensus candidate.” He said the President and the Senators discussed scheduling in some detail. “I am flexible,” said Specter. “…..Our duty is to have a justice in place by the first Monday in October.”
Specter seemed angry about “interest groups,” saying they “vastly overstate their influence…..What they’re doing is counterproductive and a lot of times insulting…..The interest groups did not defeat Judge Bork. It was his judicial philosophy.”
Specter said there was “one other topic….The sense to look for somebody as a nominee who does not come out of the circuit courts. I’ll attribute this to myself,” he said. “It would be good to have some diversity” in terms of the candidate’s backround.

Where to begin. If Specter seriously thinks that there is any likelihood of a “consensus” forming with respect to any justice President Bush may nominate, he is, I think, living on another planet. I’m also unhappy with his suggestion that the President should nominate someone who is not currently on the Court of Appeals, since–with the exception of Alberto Gonzales, whom I don’t think Specter had in mind–I believe all of those prominently being mentioned as contenders are serving on the federal appellate courts (some, to be sure, very briefly). It sounds to me as though Specter is falling in with the Democrats’ suggestion that Bush nominate a Senator. If so, this could be a pre-emptive cave-in by the Judiciary Committee’s chairman.
Worst of all is Specter’s harkening back to the Bork hearings, one of the most disgraceful episodes in modern American history. His suggestion that Bork was undone by his “judicial philosophy,” which was utterly mainstream, and not by the interest groups and Democratic Senators who defamed him, is ludicrous. It suggests that Specter has learned nothing about the Democrats’ tactics over the last 18 years, and that he is more prepared to join with the Democrats than to fight them.
On the other hand, every time I am ready to give up on John McCain, he does something good. Drudge is reporting that at a fundraiser in Dallas, McCain said:

During the campaign, President Bush said he will appoint judges who will strictly interpret the constitution… thinking anything else is either amnesia or ignorance… elections have consequences… whomever he nominates deserves an up or down vote and no filibuster… and an up or down vote is what we will have.

I think Specter probably shared McCain’s conviction that Bush’s nominees should get a vote. Based on his comments today, however, it isn’t entirely clear that we can count on Specter’s vote when the time comes.
DEACON adds: I agree that we can’t count on Specter’s vote to end a filibuster. However, it’s reasonable and not inappropriate for Specter to try to persuade the administration to nominate a moderate and/or a Senator. First, Specter is, after all, a moderate. Second, he’d like to avoid a massive confirmation war, and feels as many do that the nomination of a Senator or former Senator would reduce the chances of that. Finally, Specter opposed Bork at the time, and he’s not likely to agree that he did so because of special interest groups. In fact, Specter probably believed that Bork’s judicial philosophy wasn’t mainstream. He was wrong, and that’s become clearer as conservative thinking has come more to the fore due to the work of Reagan and Bush-I judicial appointees, almost 20 more years of election returns, and the inability of the MSM to maintain ccontrol over the discussion about law. But I imagine this is still a sensitive subject for the Senator, as it is for us.
I think that Specter will support whomever the president nominates. When it comes time to end the likely filibuster, however, he’ll imitate Hamlet, and how he will vote is anyone’s guess.

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