Jonathan Turley claims that the Democrats are in disarray in their battle to defeat President Bush’s conservative judicial nominees, including (presumably) the upcoming Supreme Court nominee. Turley misses the big picture at two levels.
First, the current Democrats have been remarkably successful overall. No other party operating from a comparable position of weakness in the Senate has ever been as successful in obstructing a president’s judicial nominees. No other party, even one that held clear majority status in the Senate, has ever had a comparable record of successful obstruction with respect to a non-lame duck presidency. Keep in mind that the Democrats had the slimmest of majorities during Bush’s first two years, were in the minority during the next two, and are down to 45 members (counting Jeffords) right now. Moreover, that number includes more than half a dozen Red State Democrats. Yet the Dems were able to filibuster pretty much at-will for several years and have preserved their right to filibuster even now. Whatever the leadership has lacked in coherence (a big point for Turley), it has made up in nerve.
Which brings us to the other key point Turley has missed. Turley seems mystified by statements from Senator Reid recommending the nomination of Republican Senators whose qualifications for the Supreme Court are doubtful, or supporting Alberto Gonzales for the Court, or saying that the elevation of Justice Scalia to Chief Justice would be ok. But these statements are easily understood in the context of a party operating from a position of political weakness — a weakness more apparent now that seven Democratic Senators have finally, under great pressure exerted by the Republican leadership, distanced themselves somewhat from the leadership. Reid and others must sound like they are offering the president something; otherwise they risk not only losing the swing Senators, but also suffering more defeats at the hands of voters.
It’s amazing that a party that has enjoyed so little success recently is poised to wage a credible war against a president’s Supreme Court nominee. It’s asking too much to expect, in addition, that the war be waged with elegance.
Via Real Clear Politics.
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