Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Reaction to the blogs: SCOTUS-talk and the coming nomination battle

A few days ago, I introduced a new feature at The Reaction: "Reaction to the news," a brief overview of major items in the news. Well, here's another brand-new feature: "Reaction to the blogs," a brief overview of what some of my favourite blogs (and some good friends of The Reaction) have posted recently on a specific topic.

The blogosphere, as expected, is all over the upcoming nomination to replace O'Connor on the Supreme Court. I've already written about it (here, here, and here), and I'll no doubt write more in the days and weeks to come, especially after Bush's nominee is announced, but here are some good posts to check out, along with some of my comments:

The Moderate Voice (see here): Joe Gandelman offers an excellent run-down of what he sees as "a classic case of chickens coming home to roost... on all sides": "No matter who is nominated, how the nominee fares, and how many political bodies will be needed to confirm or halt the nominee, when the smoke has cleared -- and the political blood has been washed away -- the political landscape will be forever changed. And, likely, changed a great deal." He proceeds to "look at what's facing each side participating in or impacted by this drama," and his analysis of what how each side -- Democrats, Nader and Nader voters, social conservatives, Republicans, Bush, and "swing voters and centrists" -- is excellent.

The Carpetbagger Report (see here): Steve Benen comments on "the bitter dispute between conservative Republicans and far-right conservative Republicans over whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales belongs on the short list" to replace O'Connor. He's right. It's all quite "divisive and contentious," but I'm not sure that's it's all that surprising. These schisms have long threatened to divide the Republican Party, and, personally, I'm pleased to see Republicans go after each other like this. Maybe the moderates and sober conservatives among them will come to see what happens when you rely on an increasingly extremist base to secure electoral victory. Benen: "The dilemma seems to be over whose job it is to fill this vacancy. The White House is looking at the Constitution and believes it's Bush's choice. The far-right GOP base is looking at the election results and believes it's their choice." Bush may want Gonzales (as I do, given the options), but what is he to do? "If Bush does tap Gonzales, he'll be thumbing his nose at the Republican base for the first time, which will infuriate Dobson & Co., and could undermine the GOP coalition in advance of next year's election. If he doesn't, Bush, once again, will appear beholden to far-right activists who are driving the White House agenda."

Political Animal (see here): Kevin Drum plays the optimist, and he may be onto something: "If there's anything good that might come from the impending Supreme Court fight, it's the possibility that these folks [moderate conservatives in the Republican Party] might realize that times have changed: the Christian right is no longer just a bunch of marginalized yahoos who get nothing but lip service from cynical Republican leaders. That was arguably the case in the 80s, but it's not anymore. If progressive groups have any brains, they'll do their best to goad the Dobson/Falwell/Bauer faction into revealing their real natures on a national stage once and for all. The more publicity these guys get, the better it is for the liberal cause." Absolutely. Bush won in 2004 in part because Rove successfully engineered a two-tiered campaign directed at two distinct audiences: a public (above-the-radar) campaign to woo moderates and independents on Iraq and terrorism, and a private (below-the-radar) campaign to woo the evangelical base on social wedge issues like same-sex marriage. It's time the Republican Party accepted full responsibility for that base, and it's time the rest of America woke up to what's really going on inside the Republican Party.

The Left Coaster (see here): Steve Soto, one of the group-bloggers, discusses "what a Gonzales pick would mean": "I think a Gonzales pick now instead of a far right pick would be in reality be a tacit acknowledgement by Bush and Rove of their declining political capital, and would signal that Bush feels he has only one all-out battle left in the bank and has decided to use it for his buddy Gonzales and not to please his base." This is more or less the argument I made when I suggested, as a hopeful contrarian, that Bush would defy certain expectations and go with an acceptable "moderate" nominee to ensure swift confirmation in the Senate. Where I support Gonzales as the least bad of all the likely candidates, however, Soto makes a strong case against him. He argues that Democrats should at least "make Bush work for this one," but he predicts (as I do) a relatively easy pass through the Senate for a Gonzales nomination.

Stay tuned...

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