Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Another See, I Told You So

In a statement issued last night, the senator was somewhat guarded [about President Bush's nomination of federal judge Michael Mukasey to be his next Attorney-General]. "For sure we'd want to ascertain his approach on such important and sensitive issues as wiretapping and the appointment of US attorneys, but he's a lot better than some of the other names mentioned and he has the potential to become a consensus nominee," the statement said.
-Chucky Schumer, six weeks ago
To me, that translates to, "We're going to put Mukasey in a hammerlock and tell him the facts of life if he ever expects to get a single one of our votes." Basically, more of the same partisan abuse that was heaped upon Oh, Boy, Alberto, except that Judge Mukasey doesn't have the job yet. And if he doesn't give the wrote left-wing answers that will be expected of him, he'll be attacked and dismissed as "partisan" just like Olson pre-emptively was, and the White House will have precisely the "big fight" they didn't want.
-Me, same day
Senate Democrats who had previously praised Michael Mukasey, President Bush's nominee for attorney general, are now threatening to vote against him because he has declined to opine on whether waterboarding constitutes torture and is therefore illegal. Joe Biden, a key member of the Judiciary Committee, has said he will not vote for Mukasey unless Mukasey states that waterboarding is illegal. And Chuck Schumer has declared through a spokesman that he "is waiting for Judge Mukasey's answer before passing any judgment." Meanwhile, Judiciary Committee Chairman Leahy has postponed the vote on Mukasey's nomination pending the nominee's answers on waterboarding and other issues.
-Powerline, last Saturday

The White House tried to duck the "big fight" they didn't want over Alberto Gonzales' replacement with this nomination instead of sending up former Solicitor General Ted Olson, as they should have. Now, just as I predicted, they've got their "big fight" anyway, and are instructing Judge Mukasey to duck their insufferably predictable "torture" gotcha instead of taking it head on, as Brother Deacon urges.

Water-boarding is not "torture." It does no physical harm to its recipients. It is used to train our own special forces personnel. It got Khalid Sheik Mohammed to spill his guts after 9/11, leading to the thwarting of a number of al Qaeda plots and doing significant damage to bin Laden's network. It may one day soon (if it hasn't been already) be the only means of preventing the incineration of an American city. If Vice President Cheney can remember this and say so, how can George W. Bush have possibly forgotten it? And why is he telling his A-G nominee to punt, making his confirmation less likely by the day?

Sure, Bush could always recess appoint Mukasey. But he could have done that with Ted Olson as well. The point of this nomination, as I wrote over a month ago, was precisely to have a "big fight" over the issues of "torture," counter-terrorism policy, and separation of powers that the Democrats were inevitably going to bring up (again). These are winnable issues for the White House AND the GOP, on which a majority of the public will be on the side of sanity and common sense if they will only argue for them with clarity and passion. Good grief, they're most of the reason the United States hasn't been attacked again in the past six years.

In Bush's place Bill Clinton would have been trumpeting that fact ever since, and probably wouldn't have bothered with confirmation hearings at all but just recess appointed Ted Olson and dared the Dems to do anything about it. But not "Gelatinous George," as I once described him; he's too preoccupied with his accursed "New Tone," and trying to make prostrative amends with his political enemies for his "sins" of safeguarding American lives.

Apparently, these are the only sins that success will not cover, multitudinously or otherwise. 'Tis a pity it is Michael Mukasey who is being crucified for them.