Robert Novak has an excellent column today on judicial confirmations. The White House won’t push hard enough (or get its nominees to the Senate fast enough), the Senate GOP rank and file won’t tell the leadership that it’s a priority, and the leadership won’t do quite enough (although Frist sort of/kind of intermittently “gets it”) to push the rank and file to back any plans it (the leadership) has to make judges a priority. Sen. Graham and Sen. McCain (the latter more understandably, considering his heroic history) may have legitimate concerns about “torture” of detainees, but they are blaming lawyer Jim Haynes MISTAKENLY for supposedly (but not actually) advocating torture. And Graham’s opposition to Haynes has risen (or fallen) to the level of asininity: arriving late for the hearing on Haynes, having his timeline and other facts wrong; in general, just being, to put it bluntly, a jerk. Meanwhile, Frist’s reported decision not to have any more floor time for debate on judges before the election (which is still more than THREE MONTHS AWAY) is indefensible and pathetic. Of course, if Congress didn’t take so many vacations (“district work periods” — NOT) from actual legislative work, it would have ample time to overcome Democratic delaying tactics on judges. As Norm Ornstein (I believe it was he) has shown, Congress is doing actual legislative work for fewer days per year now than at any time in decades.
Battles over judges win elections for Republicans, especially for conservatives. Why more senators don’t understand that is one of the great mysteries of modern politics. Novak justly takes the whole DC GOP to task for its failures in this regard.
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