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The GOP's Post-Pickering Strategy
National Review Online ^
| March 1, 2002
| Byron York
Posted on 03/01/2002 8:21:06 AM PST by xsysmgr
Will Republicans learn a lesson from the Democratic attack?
|ith the nomination of Charles Pickering to a place on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals nearly dead, Senate minority leader Trent Lott held a meeting Thursday afternoon with Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to plan a post-Pickering strategy for judicial-confirmation battles. According to a source familiar with the proceedings, there were "a lot of angry feelings" in the room, not only about Democratic attacks on Pickering but about the general treatment of Bush-administration judicial nominees. "This has been a very sobering lesson," the source says.
But the meeting wasn't really about Pickering. "Actually, not much was said about him," says the source. "Most people are resigned to the fact that we are not going to get him." Instead, the focus of the meeting was what to do next. "We need to have a strategy to move forward," the source continues. "We need to be tougher, we need to have White House involvement, we need to find ways to counter the interest groups on the other side."
As improbable as it might seem to veterans of confirmation wars, some in the GOP were surprised by the ferocity of Democratic attacks on Pickering. Some Republicans were apparently lulled into a sense of confidence by Pickering's lack of any obvious vulnerabilities; after all, Pickering had been unanimously confirmed to the U.S. District Court ten years before, with the votes of Democratic senators who now oppose him. Also, the American Bar Association, assessing his decade of work on the bench, gave Pickering its "well qualified" rating. And he had the support of many community leaders, both black and white, in his home state of Mississippi, as well as the support of both home-state senators.
Yet the Democratic attack came, and some Republicans were not ready for it. Now, as they consider what to do next, one of the issues they are grappling with is how involved President Bush should be in appeals-court nomination battles. Should the president enter the public fray on behalf of specific nominees for the federal courts of appeal? Or should the president save his words for the Supreme Court nominations that he might have to make at any time?
By most accounts, the White House has done little to support Pickering, who was nominated at the insistence of his friend Trent Lott. At a White House briefing Tuesday, spokesman Ari Fleischer repeated an earlier assertion that "the president believes in Judge Pickering and will fight for Judge Pickering." But when a reporter asked what, precisely, the president had in mind, Fleischer answered, "I think he'll just make an assessment at the appropriate time about what that means, of what level of activity he will personally engage in. He'll just make that call as it gets closer."
That call apparently was made the next day, on Wednesday morning, when Bush brought the subject up during a White House meeting that included Lott and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. One source familiar with that conversation says Bush made a flat statement that the Senate should confirm Pickering. "The president said Pickering deserves to be confirmed," the source says. "When he said that, Lott jumped in and said he was disappointed in how Pickering was being treated." Daschle, according to the source, was non-committal.
Afterwards, Daschle denied that Bush had made an appeal for Pickering's confirmation. "The president didn't ask for a floor vote," Daschle told reporters Wednesday afternoon. "He asked what the prospects were, and I said I didn't know. There wasn't any request of me to take it to the floor. He made his general views known about the need to move ahead on judges, and expressed the hope that we could confirm as many as possible." Daschle said he told Bush "that's a matter for the Judiciary Committee....I respect the Judiciary Committee's decisions, and we have to accept those."
Daschle's account appears implausible; it seems unlikely that Bush would bring up the Pickering nomination simply to ask what the prospects were, since the president surely knows they are dismal. It's more likely that Bush said just what other witnesses said he said that Pickering should be confirmed. Republicans in Congress can take some comfort in that, since it is unusual for a president to make a personal appeal on behalf of a nominee to an appeals-court seat. On the other hand, Bush's pro-Pickering pitch was not terribly forceful Daschle felt free to ignore it completely and it came very, very late in the game.
Now, Republicans appear to have come to the conclusion that they must do much, much better the next time. Democrats are making no secret of their intention to oppose several of the president's more conservative nominees, and even some of the Senate's less-confrontational Republicans have realized that the Pickering fight was just the first of many to come.
TOPICS: Government; Miscellaneous
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posted on 03/01/2002 8:21:07 AM PST
Which is why Jim Jeffords is the scum of the earth.
posted on 03/01/2002 8:24:48 AM PST
by Dog Gone
When is the next Senate recess?
Maybe W is storing up ammo (like this Pickering debacle) for a series of later recess appointments.
posted on 03/01/2002 8:27:04 AM PST
by Psalm 73
To: Dog Gone
The best strategy would be for Bush to withdraw all names for Judicial appointments and refuse to fill any posts until his nominees receive the full vote of the United States Senate.
There is already a shortage of judges on the Bench, and this move would allow him to attack both directly and indirectly such rancid politicians as Leahy, Kennedy, and Feinstein. It would also lead to such a howl that the American public might finally catch up to what was occuring in Washington.
posted on 03/01/2002 8:31:01 AM PST
It's mind boggling that the pubby senators are actually this stupid. They sit around scratching their heads trying to figure out why the dems crush them every time without even breaking a sweat. I swear, the dems wouldn't have it an any easier if every pubby senator was Forrest Gump.
posted on 03/01/2002 8:37:50 AM PST
To: Psalm 73
Bush was going to give Daschle a shot to be fair with Pickering. Now, the recess appointments will be coming. The nomination of Pickering was not a big deal to Bush, per se, but it did two things:
1. It did Lott a favor, which isn't a bad thing.
2. It also served as a test case to see how fair the Dems would be. Pickering had a good track record, and was somewhat marginal in terms of deserving a shot for the 5th Circuit on merit alone. But, with no serious flaws, he should have been confirmed. Instead, he got Borked. There's going to be payback for this, and this could cause serious problems for the Dems. The trial lawyers will dish out some payback, and that's going to be a problem for John Edwards. Bush also has a good pretext to make a few recess appointments, particularly in the Sixth Circuit, which is only at half-capacity.
posted on 03/01/2002 8:43:13 AM PST
Yet the Democratic attack came, and some Republicans were not ready for it.
Is there any question why the Republicans are called the stupid party? Conservative had been warning them that this was coming for months.
Dashle out and out lied about the context of the conversation and is not being called out on it.
posted on 03/01/2002 8:50:26 AM PST
To: Dog Gone
You won't get any argument from me when it comes to assigning the title"Scum of The Earth"to"Jumpin' Jim!!!I guess the the"Borking"of Pickering is to serve as yet another example of"A New Spirit of BiPartisanship"as expressed by Sen.DasHole!!!!!!!!!!!
While it would satisfy us to see Bush call Daschle and out-and-out liar, it might not be the BEST move, tactically or in the strategic sense.
Bush needs to looks like the guy in the white hat. And the best way to do that is to give Daschle enough rope to hang himself with. Already Daschle's approval numbers ate below 45%. That's dangerous territory for a politician. Remember Tom Foley, the sitting House speaker knocked off by George Nethercutt? The same thing's gonna happen to Daschle if he ain't careful.
posted on 03/01/2002 9:18:35 AM PST
To: Dog Gone
Jeffords may be scum but he is followed closely by Lott! The jackass hasn't figured out yet that this isn't a game. It's the constitution, it's the Presidency, it's the country, it's the honor and integrity of those nominated............
To: Blood of Tyrants
It is absolutely incredible to me that the GOP didn't foresee this. Just how blind are they? It wasn't just conservatives who were warning the GOP about judicial nominees. The Dems have been doing it from the gitgo. Did the GOP think the Dems were going to wait for SCOTUS nominee? Sheesh...the Dems have been horrible to cabinet nominees, executive branch nominees and other judicial nominees.
I have a suggestion for a new GOP strategy. GET TRENT LOTT OUT OF THE LEADERSHIP POSITION! Trent didn't see this coming, he didn't see Jeffords coming, he doesn't see anything coming. The guy has got to go.
posted on 03/01/2002 9:24:08 AM PST
I believe you are right about Daschle. I just wish he were up for reelection this year. The Foley phenomenon is happening to Daschle as it does to most Dems who reach national status. Instead of adhering to their constituency they have to adhere to the Dem base. The base is the ultra liberals from the NE and the Left Coast. Once they have to play the national party line, they are in trouble if they come from a moderate to conservative state. Let's hope Thune creams Johnson and let that be a very strong message to Dasshole from his former constituents in South Dakota.
posted on 03/01/2002 9:27:10 AM PST
Lott's main diplomatic strategy has been to cave in at the first sign of a confrontation. Is he French?
To: Blood of Tyrants
Is he French?
LOL! I don't know what he is but I did read another thread that the received the Wallace (Scottish) award two years ago. That surprised the heck out of me.
posted on 03/01/2002 9:38:24 AM PST
Memo to the GOP Senate and the White House: If you want to get anything done, dump Trent Lott. He has over and over demonstrated he is worthless as a leader. A leader leads and is not a yes man.
To: Psalm 73
As improbable as it might seem to veterans of confirmation wars, some in the GOP were surprised by the ferocity of Democratic attacks on Pickering."
The GOP is like a mouse that keeps running down the same path in a maze, over and over again, getting shocked ad infinitum. They are just tone-deaf politically. The Democrats will fight ferociously, using every weapon in their arsenal, dirty and clean, legal and illegal, to work their will on Bush's nominees. Why has it taken over a year for them to figure this out? Were they sleeping during the Ashcroft nomination?
When will the GOP learn and unleash on the Rats? There is so much dirt on that freak show to drive them out of office until the next century. It is time to be PARTISAN, Pubbies.
"We need to be tougher, we need to have White House involvement, we need ...
To get some guts!
Watching the R's as they play monica to every democrat in the country, has got me wondering why they have urinals in the Republican cloak room. The traitorous pair of Snowe and Collins have more male equitoment between then than do lott and his playmates.
The Republicans in the Senate are a waste!
posted on 03/01/2002 9:44:32 AM PST
To: Psalm 73
When is the next Senate recess? Maybe W is storing up ammo (like this Pickering debacle) for a series of later recess appointments
Recess appointments are not a good thing, not a victory. Bush needs to start fighting for his judges.
I like your analysis. Bush did give Dasshole a fair shot to at least go through the "process", which is what liberals claim they love. They did not even do that, displaying a total lack of class. It would be one thing if they had hearings and said they had concerns about him being too conservative, because at least that would led to an honest debate. Apparently honesty is too much to ask for from the democrats.
I doubt Daschle will do so, for the reason he is a national leader. He will probably lose in 2004 to Janklow.
I expect the GOP to make gains in the Senate in 2002 and 2004.
posted on 03/01/2002 9:49:28 AM PST
Bush was going to give Daschle a shot to be fair with Pickering.
Well, I hope Bush didn't really expect Dasshole to be fair. "Fair" is a word not found in a 'rat dictionary. The 'Pubs need to relearn this fundamental lesson: never, ever trust a 'Rat.
The 'pubs assumed that being a good judge and a decent man is sufficient for confirmation. The 'Rats proved that it isn't. With a 'Rat, its all about ideology, and the only thing that will defeat that is somehow having more votes than they do. If the 'Pubs are serious about getting these nominations through, they'd better do whatever it takes, within the rules, to make that happen.
These are just the initial skirmishes, the warmups, the overtures to the real battle, and that will be when an opening occurs on the Supreme Court. The 'Rats are just sharpening their knives for that. A blind man could see that with a cane, but evidently the 'Pubs don't. They're still expecting the 'Rats to play fair and be honorable. But it isn't in them.
posted on 03/01/2002 9:52:05 AM PST
(Republicans) sit around scratching their heads trying to figure out why the dems crush them every time without even breaking a sweat.
I doubt that. Everyone knows Democrats have the votes to stop anything they want from coming to the floor for a vote and to defeat anything which does make it to the floor. Add in the media cheerleading for Daschle and it is a grim picture. One for which we can thank the Libertarian Party, in part. Had they not knocked out Gorton in 2000 and Ensign in 1998, Bush would have a GOP Senate.
There's an old joke about an old bull and a young bull. George W. Bush got the point of said joke, which I cannot repeat here due to the restrictions on profanity.
Suffice it to say, we will be VERY happy come 2002 and 2004 if we play our cards right...
posted on 03/01/2002 9:55:12 AM PST
Now, Republicans appear to have come to the conclusion that they must do much, much better the next time.
This statement keeps getting repeated all too often. How many next times are there going to be before the ones on the Hill get tough?
posted on 03/01/2002 9:56:21 AM PST
I know the joke and I hope you are right.
With Daschle opening his mouth and inserting his foot, I think I will be right. And as Bush gets things done, he'll be doing well by 2004.
posted on 03/01/2002 10:29:45 AM PST
To: Sci Fi Guy
Recess appointments are not a good thing, not a victory.
They can be a usefull too when W shows America that he REALLY tried to get some cooperation from the Dems, to no avail.
W is no dummy - there must be a method to this madness, after all, he kind-of IS the leader of the Republicans.
posted on 03/01/2002 10:53:38 AM PST
by Psalm 73
The whole Bush "strategy" is to "not rock the boat" and try to keep the goodwill he has to get reelected in 2004. But as Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, once said, "What's the use of being elected or reelected if you don't stand for something"? What does "W" stand for other than being reelected?
To: Dog Gone
"Farmer Jim" is to Trent Lott as Brutus was to Caesar. Is Trent still "singing" with "Farmer Jim"? Probably is -- Trent just seems to love associating with Democrats. Can't wait to get a Democrat to say something nice about himself.
No, hchutch, Daschle has no national approval ratings. The American people are so uninformed that don't know Daschle or recognize his picture. But he is nevertheless running Washington. G.W. Bush is becoming a side show to the real power in Washington. Alas, Republicans don't believe me, and they should. I have been a registered Republican since 1970, the same year the great Helms switched parties. But I never switched parties -- I was Republican before it was cool. Still, I am disappointed in the record of the Republican party and its leaders. I don't know what will motivate G.W. Bush to "fight." Here he nominates this outstanding Judge Pickering and then just lets him twist in the wind. It's unseemly; if he wouldn't fight for Pickering, he should have made no nomination.
And with Daschle so powerful, he will be able to turn the tide in SD to reelect his colleague, Tim Johnson. Why they can get Tom Brokaw to come "home" and host a fundraiser! If John Thune is depending on G.W. for much help, other than a fundraiser, he will be returning permanently to SD in January.
You all keep talking about Daschle coming up for reelection. I don't have the figures handy, but I believe that he was elected in 1998 by a larger margin in SD than Bush got in 2000. If not larger, then nearly as large. SD people like Daschle, but conservatives can't be reconciled to that fact because we all LOATHE Daschle. Well, those stubborn Dakotans see something we don't.
If the Republican senators and G.W. too won't play hardball, there will be the same result the next time. The Republicans are just too complacent -- doing as little as they can and backing everybody who wears the "R" label whether they are effective or not.
To: Psalm 73
I don't think G.W. Bush gave more than five seconds thought to the lynching of Judge Pickering. I just don't think this was a priority item for him. And I think this scenario of defeat will be repeated indefinitely. I don't think the public will see the Democrats as the culprits they are in this outrage either.
But, with no serious flaws, he should have been confirmed. Instead, he got Borked.
Yup. Pickering is a mosquito in the grand scheme of the federal judiciary, and yet Democrats pulled out a nuclear weapon on him just to be pissy, penny-ante jerks. This is a massive, massive tactical error on the Dems' part, because it has absolutely enraged the GOP in both the Congress and the White House, and virtually guarantees that the GOP will now play the hardest of hardball on every truly important nomination without batting an eyelid. The Dems will be paying for this for years.
posted on 03/07/2002 8:03:07 PM PST
Jeffords may be scum but he is followed closely by Lott!
Oh come on. Lott isn't evil, he's just stupid.
posted on 03/07/2002 8:04:27 PM PST
The Foley phenomenon is happening to Daschle as it does to most Dems who reach national status. Instead of adhering to their constituency they have to adhere to the Dem base. The base is the ultra liberals from the NE and the Left Coast. Once they have to play the national party line, they are in trouble if they come from a moderate to conservative state.
This is one of the things that bugs me most about Daschle: Not only am I against almost everything he says, I never get the feeling he actually believes anything he's saying, either. I always feel like he's just saying what he knows he has to say as a high-ranking Democrat, not what he really feels in his heart.
posted on 03/07/2002 8:08:17 PM PST
Thanks for the post. Since Hatch bought the Pickering vote another week, I have just made a FAX (202 224-9102) to some D's on the Judiciary Committee(Biden, Kohl, Edwards, Cleland, Landrieu, Lincoln) asking them to stop playing politics and act responsibly by supporting Judge Pickering who received a "well-qualified" rating from the ABA! Having 36 ladies at a meeting sign it tomorrow. Freepers get to work!
posted on 03/07/2002 8:10:03 PM PST
To: Theodore R.
Daschle is up in 2004. You may be right about Daschle winning by a larger margin than by what Bush carried the state. That doesn't mean anything though. Perhaps the GOP has never run a good candidate against him. Also, Daschle didn't have the national stature he has now.
Many of us call this the Foley phenomenon. Tom Foley was our Congressman for years - like 25 or 30 - but once he became Speaker of the House, he became a 'national' figure and no longer represented his constituents. He was carrying the water for Clinton which infuriated people further. We finally found a good candidate, George Nethercutt, and with a concerted grass roots effort (and it wasn't easy by any means) we managed to defeat the Speaker of the House. Everyone said it couldn't be done but we did it.
It can happen in South Dakota too. Once Democrats become 'national' figures they have to tow the party line, which means adhering to the NE liberals that control the party. This doesn't always bode well with folks back home. And all that nonsense about farm subsidies is silly. Everyone knows that no matter who they send to DC is going to support the farm subsidies, regardless of party affiliation.
I'd say it's time for the SD GOP to start finding a good candidate to go against Daschle in 2004.
posted on 03/07/2002 8:10:45 PM PST
Your feelings are right. That's why it is a mistake for the Dems to select their leadership from outside their natural base. They do it on purpose of course to make them seem less liberal. Daschle is following Foley's path to a tee! Let's just hope the SD GOP can come up with a good candidate in 2004 to run against him.
posted on 03/07/2002 8:13:40 PM PST
Not their heads! They are scratching their brains, located in a posterior section of their anatomy and much the worse for being sat upon. HOW can they not catch on that the Dems are so power hungry they will do anything?
This is one of the main reasons Dole lost--he just could not get it through his head that those across the aisle were not his friends.
posted on 03/07/2002 8:32:14 PM PST
First of all Daschle has no heart. Second, ALL the dems except for Zell Miller read directly from Terry McAwfull's faxes. No deviation no matter how stupid they look. They're counting on the sheeple to be paying no attention to their obstruction. WHERE ARE THE RNC ADS pointing out what is going on. They could be running ads on the radio. Saving the money till later is NOT a good idea.
Look at the Pressler-Janklow primary this year. The loser will probably get the "consolation prize" of going up against Daschle.
posted on 03/08/2002 4:56:27 AM PST
I would bet on Janklow but would probably vote in the primary for Pressler. Tell me, South Dakotans, why I should or should not vote for Pressler. I know that Pressler is one of the few Republicans in modern time who became more conservative the longer he served in the Senate, instead of "growing in office," a la Hatch and D'Amato.
An oxymoron right there in the conservative vocabulary next to RINO. What strategy indeed? ROFLMAO!!!
To: Theodore R.
Either one is okay in my book.
Frankly, I'm holding out hope. Orrin Hatch is ticked off. He always was high-threshold. He's also high-yield. He's good when it comes to getting nominees through, and he did keep Bruce Babbitt off the Supreme Court. He's not all that bad.
posted on 03/08/2002 7:07:18 AM PST
IS there a strategy? I wasn't sure the GOP understood the word, strategy. Timid they understand, fear of media they understand, but strategy? Wouldn't that involve thinking, analysis, working together, standing up and verbalizing their version of events? Nah! They don't know strategy. If they did, they would ditch Lott and elect Mitch McConnell.
posted on 03/09/2002 7:33:30 PM PST
To: Blood of Tyrants
posted on 03/15/2002 1:17:21 PM PST
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