Rove's Implication And O'Connor's Vacancy: 2006 Starts Now
I should have known that the moment I went away for a long weekend with the family, all hell would break loose. Leave it to a Supreme Court justice, who doesnít have to coordinate her actions with a White House political agenda, to make things interesting this summer. And things for the next year or so will be very interesting.
First, according to MSNBC political analyst Lawrence OíDonnell, who has ties to Time Magazine and reporter Matt Cooper, he revealed tonight on PBSís McLaughlin Group that Millerís emails, when they are turned over to special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, will reveal that none other than Karl Rove was the source who outed CIA operative Valerie Plame. Let your mind savor that one for a moment.
Aside from what that revelation, if it pans out, will do to the White House political operation during a critical time of a Supreme Court fight, I want to spend a small amount of time talking about the OíConnor replacement battle in a slightly larger context. First, there will be several schools of thought about whether or not the Democrats should wage a huge fight on this pick, depending on whom Bush selects. I myself could argue that if Bush was getting the chance to replace a conservative with a conservative, thereby not affecting the balance of the court, the Democrats may want to hold their fire before committing to all-out war until they see who is selected. But in this case, as in the case of the retirement of one of the courtís centrists or liberals, I would argue that the Democrats should prepare for all out war. Why? Because OíConnorís replacement with a hard-line conservative would change the balance of power. Notwithstanding Paradoxís comments below on Bush V. Gore, OíConnor wasnít a lock-step conservative vote to the degree that Thomas, Scalia, and Rehnquist have been, and her replacement with a true believer would deliver five sure votes on many issues.
Second, Democrats need to remember that a long fight, even if it scuttles the nuclear option deal in the cause of fighting off a candidate who can be shown to be out of the mainstream, forces problems upon the GOP. Not only will strong Democratic opposition to an extremist force the GOP to blow up the filibuster in the cause of stacking extremists on the court (something that the public has said through recent polls they expect the Democrats to fight against), but also until OíConnor is replaced there are only four certain conservative votes on the court.
Third, what does this vacancy do to the Bolton fight? Well, the conventional wisdom of late has been that Frist wasnít going to push for another vote, and that Bush would have to use a recess appointment to get Bolton at the UN. Now, with this vacancy, the American Taliban will want it all; they will demand a far-right nominee, and will demand that Frist not show weakness and instead keep pushing for a cloture vote. This will poison the Senate even more, and put the more moderate GOP senators in a terrible spot, because they probably wanted Bolton to be off the table before a Supreme Court fight started. Bush is in a tough spot no matter what now: if he keeps fighting for Bolton, it hangs out to dry those GOP senators already willing to vote against him in a floor vote, and if he does a recess appointment it will only enrage the Democrats even further and cut off the legs of those same GOP senators heading into the Supreme Court fight.
And what now happens to the remaining appeals court nominees that werenít acted upon from the gang of seven? Why would Democrats play ball on any of them if Bush nominates a far-right Supreme Court nominee, keeps pushing for a cloture vote on Bolton, or especially does a recess appointment of Bolton?
Sure, some of you will say that Bush will just cleverly nominate Gonzales to make the Democrats fight against a Hispanic, especially one who looks quite moderate compared to some of the other possible Bush nominees. Iím not sure this will happen, as Gonzales is not conservative enough for the American Taliban, and Gonzales himself has told associates that he doesnít want to leave the Executive Branch. Besides, Bush needs Gonzales at Justice for a bunch of reasons far more than he needs him at the Supreme Court.
Lastly, remember that Rove always chooses to fight as aggressively and on as many fronts as possible, and never allows Bush to cut deals and pull his chips back. These guys donít negotiate against themselves and will make the Democrats earn their victories and wonít hand them anything in advance. So if anyone things that Bush will sense that he is weak and nominate a moderate to the court and ditch Bolton because of bad poll numbers, forget it. It isnít going to happen. Nothing will be considered with this bunch if it has even the slightest connotation of weakness about it. And that will be their downfall.
The fact that Bush's political advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff is on the verge of a felony charge only makes it more certain that for the Democrats, the 2006 midterm campaign doesnít start next spring, it starts now. Itís time for war guys, and the first step to a 2006 victory is how you handle the next 60 days. Just when you expect them to act defensively, Rove will make sure they act like they are on offense and try to put the Democrats on defense fighting multiple fronts at the same time. The only way to win this next year is to rise to the challenge on all these fronts now and fight Rove and Bush everywhere, pointing out to the voters how extreme these guys are in their efforts to do the American Talibanís bidding, and thereby making the kitchen very hot for the GOPís 2006 incumbents.
2006 is now.