Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Hugh Hewitt makes the case

Hugh Hewitt continue to make his case. His practical arguments will, I believe, carry the day.

"In short, anyone who thinks we can spare a vote or two is nuts. Anyone who doesn't see the potential loss of up to five or even six votes in the humbling of Arlen Specter is not evaluating the situation with the detachment that is absolutely necessary. And anyone who thinks that forcing the White House, or Senator Frist or Senator Santorum into public declarations of 'oaths demanded and oaths taken' is a good idea really hasn't thought through how Senator Specter's support for future nominees will be diminished in the press by reference back to this battle underway today.

Can we agree that the MSM will be as hostile to fact and logic as it was in the campaign just ended? Can we also agree that the venom directed at President Bush will also be directed at his Supreme Court nominees? Then can anyone really think we can afford to continue this 'arm the opponents with talking points' exercise?

What talking points? If as expected Senator Specter becomes chair and leads vigorous efforts to get, say, Judge Luttig confirmed as the new Chief Justice, I can already hear Ralph Neas on Meet The Press arguing that Senator Specter was 'neutered in November.' In the unlikely event Senator Specter is toppled, not only do we risk losing his and other moderate GOP senators' support for a floor vote and an end to filibusters, we can almost assure an elevation of the importance of that opposition.

Patrick Leahy, Ralph Neas and Nan Aron and the rest of the hard-left gang want nothing more that for Specter to be thrown under the bus. What's that tell you about the wisdom of that course of action?

Ramesh argues that my anti-anti-Specter arguments are all over the map. No, they are not. They are just too numerous to post at one time. And they all fall into one of two categories: Those arguments which underscore how denying Specter the chairmanship would increase the difficulty of successful confirmation battles, and the argument that upending traditions of comity within the Senate do enormous damage to politics generally.

We are already deep into an age of bitter politics, where every maneuver is justified by the ends being pursued. The decision in the last couple of years --led by Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy-- to radicalize judicial nominations even beyond the terrible precedents of the Bork and Thomas nomination battles was one of the most irresponsible ever taken, and now the prospect of filibusters and smear campaigns seems inevitable. The only chance of repairing this process is for a united and determined GOP caucus to demand a return to past, pre-Bork practices, and failing to obtain that demand, to launch and win a great debate leading to new rules on judicial nominations. That debate would be ferocious and would lead to an up-or-down vote on a package of rule changes on the floor. This so-called "nuclear option" was not attempted in the last few years because GOP leadership doubted that it had the votes. With a caucus of 55 and some sober Democrats across the aisle, the threat of that option might be enough to calm the Democrats and undo the knots which they have tied. The Specter debate is giving exactly the wrong signal, and forcing the very confrontation that might have been avoided.

Perhaps some folks welcome the battles. I think it is better to win quietly than it is to emerge with a nominee confirmed by a single vote of the Vice President, the nominee's reputation scarred by the slanders of an out-of-control left, the country even more polarized, and two or three more nominations to go. These are the circumstances upon which the fever swamp and the Michael Moore caucus of opportunists feed.

Jeffords, Jeffords, Jeffords.

I know I've been flip-flopping on this issue because I don't want Specter as Chairman, but I don't want to wreck the party, either. The Republicans will have a 55-45 majority in the next Senate, but conservatives won't. Conservatives will have maybe 51 votes, which is a much more narrow majority. The party, and the President also, will need all the help he can get from all parts of the party to get pass the Dem fillibusters, which WILL happen on his Supreme Court nominations.

Additionally, despite the civil tone of the intraparty dispute, I don't want to be the Democrats. We have both pro-abortion and anti-abortion people in our party and we agree to disagree on that issue, while other issues bring us together. A major problem with the Democrats is that they impose a litmus test on the issue, not just for judges, but for the politicians as well. Can anyone name even one major pro-life Democrat (beside Zell Miller)? Neither can I. Abortion is a major point of contention in the party, but there are many other issues, like taxes, crime, terrorism, foreign policy, etc that Republicans make common cause on. Republicans don't have to choose and pro-abortion presidential contenders, but we have a big enough tent to get along on other issues, while disagreeing on this one. Holding Specter's feet to the fire is a good thing for party discipline, but throwing him into the fire isn't.