Wednesday, June 18, 2003


Bush Stiffarms Dems on Supreme Court

Reuters reports that President Bush has rejected offers to consult with Senate Democrats on the next Supreme Court appointment in order to avoid a trainwreck:

Democrats have urged President Bush to avert a major confirmation battle by consulting with them before making his selections.

"The more we can consult, the more we can meet, the more we can talk about avoiding a major confrontation, the better off the country and the system will be," Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle said after meeting with Bush at the White House.

But White House spokesman Ari Fleischer called Daschle's request a "novel new approach to how the Constitution guides the appointment process."

"We always welcome thoughts, but certainly no one wants to suggest that the Constitution be altered," Fleischer told reporters.

This is all posturing, since there's nothing in the Constitution that prevents the President from consulting with members of the Senate before putting a name forward. Presidents have often floated trial ballons and sought advice privately without surrending their right to make the ultimate determination about who they will appoint. For example, President Clinton consulted with the Republican Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch before making his nominations of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.

Given that Fleischer's claim that consultation with Senate Democrats would effectively amend the Constitution is just plain silly, what's going on? It's quite simple. Bush is sending signals that he is unwilling to compromise. That is standard operating procedure for this president: He does not believe in compromising unless it becomes clear that he will lose; then he is willing to cut a deal. Knowing this, the best strategy for the Democrats is to respond in kind. They must threaten a very bitter confirmation battle even if neither side wants one.

It should be obvious by now, three years into this Administration, that the President is a bully, and one must always stand up to a bully.


We are all the pieces of what we remember. We hold in ourselves the hopes and fears of those who love us. As long as there is love and memory, there is no true loss.
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