A big disappointment
Sen. Patrick Leahy, the senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, announced today that he will vote to confirm John Roberts for Chief Justice. I’m disappointed in Leahy. I think a lot of Democrats are still under the mistaken impression that there is something to be gained by being “reasonable” or “accommodating.” What I'm not clear on is who it is that they think that they are gain something from.
Bush? Don't be absurd. Bush has never shown himself to interested in even hearing anyone else's opinion, not from his own party and certainly not from the opposition. Are they trying to send a message of "more like this please" (and I hope they're not sending that message)? Do they think Bush will understand the message, or care? There is nothing to be gained by compromising with Bush. He regards compromise as a sign of weakness; he will take what he can get and give nothing in return.
The Senate Republicans? Once upon a time this would have been well within the standards of Senatorial courtesy. But those days are long gone. The congressional Republicans have been thoroughly Bushized. The majority of them have no interest in compromise.
The voters? Why would their constituents want the Democratic Senators to vote for Roberts. Has there been an irresistible groundswell of popular support for him. Most voters don't follow confirmation hearings. Do the Senators think that because many of their constituents voted for Bush that they want him to be given a blank check to appoint whomever he wants? For decades, most Americans have been of the vocal opinion that they do not want either party to have unlimited power. They split their votes between a Republican president and a Democratic senator because they want balance.
Are they so intimidated by the Republican noise machine that the mere prospect of being called negative or obstructionist is enough to make them fall apart? Perhaps instead of worrying about Republicans or Republican operatives, the Democratic senators should worry about Democratic voters. What message are they sending to us? Max Baucus of Montana plans to vote for Roberts. What message does he expect his western libertarian supporters to hear when he votes for someone who has asserted that there is no right of privacy? Most Democratic voters are pro-choice. What are we to think of Senators who support a judge who has argued in favor of overturning Roe?
Shouldn't Democratic Senators at least appear to be on the side of Democratic voters?