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Friday, November 12, 2004
An Odd Strategy

By Steven Taylor @ 7:26 am

Via the NYT: Choice of Gonzales May Blaze a Trail for the High Court

Republicans close to the White House said on Thursday that the choice of Alberto R. Gonzales as attorney general was part of a political strategy to bolster Mr. Gonzales’s credentials with conservatives and position him for a possible Supreme Court appointment.

These Republicans said Mr. Gonzales had been widely viewed as one of President Bush’s top choices for the court. But by first sending him to the Justice Department, they said, Mr. Bush could then nominate a conservative favored by his political base to fill the first vacancy that arises.

For Mr. Gonzales, tenure as attorney general would allow him to demonstrate his reliability to conservative leaders, many of whom say they are unsure of his views on issues like abortion and affirmative action, Republicans said. One Republican said Mr. Gonzales’s nomination hearings in Congress would also “get out of the way'’ the debate over legal memorandums that Mr. Gonzales supervised as White House counsel. Civil rights groups say memorandums about the treatment of captured terrorism suspects appeared to endorse the torture of some prisoners and opened the door to abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

The strategy, which Republicans said was in large part the work of Karl Rove, the president’s chief political adviser, would clear the way for Mr. Bush to make his first nomination to the Supreme Court a trusted conservative, thus showing gratitude to his political base for the large role they played in giving him a second term.

Hmm. I am thinking that of the places to send someone to prepare them politically for a Supreme Court nomination, this doesn’t strike me as the best place to be sent. AG’s are almost always placed in controversial positions, and relentlessly criticized. Further, in a post-Bork world the goal has seemingly (and unfortunately) been to find nominees with a limited paper trail. Somehow sending a guy to run Justice doesn’t exactly fit that bill.

Not to mention that anything that Gonzales does as AG that will reassure social conservatives is only going to enrage Democratic Senators-so I am not sure this is all that smart a plan, politically, if, indeed, it is the plan at all.

I do agree with the following contention in the article:

The theory, the Republican said, is that Mr. Bush will be at the apex of his power at the beginning of the second term, and in a strong position to battle Democrats in any Supreme Court confirmation fight. “So you do the toughest nominee first,'’ the Republican said.

So, one would expect a fairly conservative first move-lending some credence to the Clarence Thomas as CJ rumor.

It will be interesting in any event.

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2 Comments»

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: http://www.poliblogger.com/wp-trackback.php/5298

  1. I think you’re right.

    Comment by Steven L. — Friday, November 12, 2004 @ 4:12 pm

  2. Oh man! Steven, you log in as yourself, change your last name from Taylor to something that begins with “L” and then write that you are right?!

    I should employ this strategy with the papers I send for publication.

    In any event, I don’t have a paper trail, probably won’t be serving as AG soon and look good in robes, so I think I may be a prime candidate for a Supreme Court Justice.

    (What do they wear under those robes anyways? Could I wear some Batman underwear and an Iggy Pop t-shirt?)

    Comment by John Lemon — Friday, November 12, 2004 @ 5:30 pm

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