NEXT CONFIRMATION BATTLE: MUKASEY ON NOVEMBER 6-- CAN DEMOCRATS HOLD THE LINE? BUSH ISN'T LOSING ANY SLEEP
Only the Senate gets to vote on presidential nominations. At least we won't have to sit and watch Rahm Emanuel's little kennel of Bush Dogs-- like Heath Shuler (NC), Chris Carney (PA), Jason Altmire (PA), Melissa Bean (IL), Dan Lipinski (IL), JoeDonnellyBradEllworthBaronHill (IN), Tim Mahoney (FL), Harry Mitchell (AZ), and Zach Space (OH)-- obediently voting to confirm Bush's candidate to succeed Alberto Gonzales as
When Bush first nominated Michael Mukasey, Beltway Insiders, of both parties, rallied round and gave a great big cheer and pretty much claimed the hearing would just be for fun and he was in like flynn. But then he started talking-- or not talking-- about the Bush Regime's wiretapping policies and torture policies... and progressives started having second thoughts. As usual these days Chris Dodd was first:
"Mr. Mukasey's position that the President does not have to heed the law disqualifies him from being the chief attorney for the United States. We have seen for too long, and at great expense to our national security, an Administration that has systematically attacked the rule of law and turned our Justice Department into a political wing of the White House. I'm afraid that Mr. Mukasey as Attorney General would be more of the same."
Obama, Clinton and Edwards also came out against Mukasey. Obama:
We don't need another attorney general who believes that the President enjoys an unwritten right to secretly ignore any law or abridge our constitutional freedoms simply by invoking national security. And we don't need another attorney general who looks the other way on issues as profound as torture.
Hillary said "Mukasey has been given ample opportunity-- both at his confirmation hearings and in his subsequent submission to the Judiciary Committee-- to clarify his answers and categorically oppose the unacceptable interrogation techniques employed by this Administration. His failure to do so leaves me no choice but to oppose his nomination." The Senate Judiciary Committee has set November 6th as the day they will vote on the nomination. Patrick Leahy, the committee chair, who was the first to declare confirmation a virtual slam dunk, has gone through Mukasey's 172 pages of written responses and he says they do not satisfy him. Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Richard Durbin, also a committee member, said "I can't support his nomination." Reactionary Democrats in the tightly divided Senate, like Ben Nelson, arch-villain of the KKK confirmation battle last week, are already lining up to support Bush and ignore the Judiciary Committee.
Andrew Greeley explained today why Mukasey is probably a much bigger danger to America than Gonzales, who he describes as "an incompetent buffoon, a hack from Texas."
[He] believes the president can ignore statutes passed by Congress by virtue of his power as commander in chief. The separation of powers, the essence of American democracy, is thereby abolished, and the president becomes a dictator who can do anything he deems necessary to defend the country. There is no review either of his decisions or his judgments about the powers of the commander in chief or the specific threat to the country. The president in theory is as absolute in his power as Stalin was in Russia. No one reviews him, no one rules on him, no one questions his decisions. The next step will be FBI men in jackboots appearing at the doors of presidential critics in the middle of the night.
Tomorrow's NY Times worries that Mukasey is treading a line so fine because he has to protect against future prosecutions against Regime members. A few nights ago I went to hear Paul Krugman speak at the L.A. Public Library. He was even more brilliant on stage than in the columns. I asked him if he thought Bush and his cronies had committed crimes that rose to the level of post-Regime prosecution. He wasn't sure but he told a little jokey. I'm paraphrasing: "On the last day of the Regime Bush pardons Cheney and resigns and then Cheney pardons Bush."
The Senate Judiciary Committee usually is stocked with partisans from each party. Even if some Democrats decide to filibuster Mukasey on the floor-- the way they did the KKK judicial nominee last week-- enough reactionary Democrats will throw their lots in with the GOP to shut it down and confirm him. If he gets out of the Judiciary Committee, he's home free. The KKK nominee had Feinstein jump the fence for him (or at least for old flame Thad Cochran). Will anyone jump the fence for Mukasey? We'll see next week. Today's Congressional Quarterly thinks if there is a traitor among the Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats likely to let Mukasey pass it is-- surprise, surprise-- the increasingly reactionary Feinstein, someone who is very much compromised by her husband's longstanding financial relationships with criminal elements inside the Bush Regime.