Bryron York reports on the latest round in the judicial confirmation wars. His most telling piece of information, it seems to me, is that Republican staffers are now boasting about the confirmation rate for Bush nominees — the highest since President Reagan. As York notes, that’s normally the Democrats’ line. The Republicans typically complain about how the Democrats have succeeded in thwarting the will of President Bush and the public.
The new line suggests that the Republicans aren’t going to be very aggressive this time around. And York’s report confirms that, while there will be a big (and probably successful) push for Brett Kavanaugh, the outlook for the other stalled nominees — Terrence Boyle, William Myers, Jim Haynes — is fair to poor. Indeed, York reports that Haynes, the General Counsel of the Defense Department, is unlikely to get a vote this session. His source claims that Republicans don’t want to defend the military’s treatment of military prisoners this close to an election. But the Republicans need not worry about losing votes because of public sympathy for the inmates at Gitmo. The real reason why Haynes, who in my view has done more to protect the security of this country than any other Bush nominee, won’t get a vote is that Senator McCain and his sidekick Senator Graham (the Arlen Specter of the south) don’t want him confirmed — a fact that conservatives should remember in 2008. With Haynes and Boyle in trouble, the long-term prospects for preventing an activist Fourth Circuit are diminished.
Finally, let’s not throw a party because the confirmation rate for Bush’s nominees is higher than the rate for those of his father and President Clinton. The Democrats controlled the Senate for the entire Bush I administration. The Republicans controlled it for most of the Clinton presidency. Bush II had essentially an evenly divided Senate for two years and a Republican Senate since then.