House Republicans thrash in search of a new leadership team. Sam Alito stands before the fully armed Judiciary Committee firing squad, with a trembling Leader Bill Frist in the wings, fearing a direct hit and the offensive of a filibuster he cannot break. Meanwhile the natural successor to the lame duck President Bush, Dick Cheney, spends more hours in the hospital, suggesting a crisis even before the nasty battle for succession in the winter spring of 2008.
The Spectacle Blog
Just as we are mulling Blunt's standing, Rep. Jack Kingston (GA) endorses him. Kingston is a bellwether for conservatives.
Folks on the House who are having a tough time seeing where the Pence announcement plays out elsewhere.
The assumption was that if Rep. Roy Blunt were leading John Boehner in "whip counts" for the Leader position, the House Republican Whip position, which Blunt currently holds, would be a wide open race for conservatives. With Pence stepping aside, the Whip job appears to be now Eric Cantor's, assuming Blunt ascends. "It's odd that Pence would take himself out this early in the game, but perhaps he's hearing a count that indicates Blunt is not doing well,. and the Whip job isn't going to be open."
That is not the case, according to two GOP operatives who cover the House, and who say that Blunt's whip operation is reporting strong responses, and a firm belief that Blunt is ahead of Boehner in the count.
Pence's committee, the Republican Study Group, would, on its face, be a natural spot for Blunt to find strong support. Where that group's members go will be a strong indicator of where Blunt ends up.
It's disappointing news, but quite understandable that Pence wouldn't seek the post if he's lacking the support. He avoids a likely bruising loss, and builds his reputation and support for next time.
Rep. Mike Pence has decided not to seek a leadership post. A "Dear Colleague" letter is circulating now.
Things are moving fast. No sooner does Republican Study Group Chair, Rep. Mike Pence, appear to weaken as a leadership candidate than Rep. John Boehner begins to chip away at the RSC.
This morning, Rep. Gresham Barrett (SC), a member of the group, and vice chair of the GOP class of 2004, endorsed Boehner for leader. This is significant only in that the RSC is viewed as a leading conservative base in the House.
The more moderate wing of the Republican caucus, most visibly represented by the "Tuesday Group" intends to hold interviews with both Boehner and Blunt and whomever else might choose to run for the slot at the end of the month.
Having lost his witness who was prepared to attack Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito for his activities at Princeton University 30 years ago, we've learned that Sen. Patrick Leahy is looking to add a new witness to replace him.
Last Friday Leahy lost Stephen R. Dujack after it was revealed that, among other things, he equated the eating of meal with meat to the Holocaust. Dujack was a Princeton alum, who was prepared to attack Alito for his membership in a Princeton alumni group.
Now, Leahy's staff is looking to add to its panelists another Princeton alum to attack Alito for his time at Princeton: Prof. Sally Frank, currently a teacher at Drake University, and a Princeton grad in 1980. Frank was a well-known campus political activist who protested -- among other things -- apartheid in South Africa and the failure of Princeton to provide locks on bathrooms. She is best known for her lawsuits to make Princeton's famous eating clubs co-ed.
A Democratic Judiciary Committee staffer says no decision has been made on adding Frank.
This is perhaps one of the best pieces I've read on how Alito came up through the ranks. Sure, the Post is obsessed with appellation (Reagan's policies weren't just policies but conservative policies), but the Post is also familiar enough with the give and take of luck and preparation so characteristic of political grooming that it doesn't immediately attribute Alito's rise to some cabal of conservative conspirators. It also puts to rest some talking points of the left.
Whereas some people are likely to talk about his role in dismantling affirmative action, the Post evenhandedly provides evidence that Alito was no racist:
After his breakfast meeting with Judge Alito, President Bush offered praise for his nominee and guarded optimism for the hearings:
And my hope, of course, is that the American people will be impressed by the process. It's very important that members of the Senate conduct a dignified hearing. The Supreme Court is a dignified body; Sam is a dignified person. And my hope, of course, is that the Senate bring dignity to the process and give this man a fair hearing and an up or down vote on the Senate floor.
Methinks the President isn't holding his breath.