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Attorney General Appointments and Disappointments

After the president picked Michael B. Mukasey as his nominee to replace Alberto Gonzales as attorney general, the media began buzzing that Bush is giving in by choosing someone acceptable to Democrats. Boy, are the media wrong! Bush also decided to make the highly-controversial Assistant Attorney General Peter D. Keisler acting attorney general.

The name of Mukasey was recommened by Senator Schumer as someone who could be confirmed. Although Mukasey is a conservative it was thought that he would not be as uninviting as Ted Olsen, who previously seemed to have the inside track.

The reaction from the media was as expected: Bush is playing nice because he has lost power. This is nonsense. Read the reaction of Senator Leahy, chairman of the Senator Judiciary Committee:

The next Attorney General needs to be someone who can begin the process of restoring the Department of Justice to its proper mission. I am hopeful that once we obtain the information we need and we have had the opportunity to consider the nomination, we will be able to make progress in this regard.

Leahy wants to receive from the White House information about the recent firings of Justice Department attorneys. No information, no hearings on Mukasey.

So what does Bush do? He finds a guy that is more controversial (Peter Keisler) than the one he recently chose as acting Attorney General (Paul Clement). Keisler is the guy who represented the government - Bush, really - in the Guantanamo "enemy combatant" case.

Since Keisler is still a member of the Justice Department, he can be appointed the acting attorney general. If the Democrats don't confirm Mukasey, something that appears very likely because Bush will not acquiesce to supplying information to Leahy, then Bush can use Keisler to thumb his nose against the senate.

I say, Leahy must act tough. If he does not get the information he seeks from the administration within a week or two, he must follow through on his contempt of Congress citations. Sure it will cause a crisis. But a crisis is unavoidable. The integrity of our constitution is at stake.

Up to now most of Bush's appointments have been disappointments. For a brief moment, it appeared that Bush was being reasonable. No such luck.

Posted by Paul Siegel at September 17, 2007 5:37 PM
Comment #233235

Bush gives in and picks a guy the Democrats will likly confirm. Maybe he should have picked someone else to really give the democrats something to bitch about.

Posted by: KAP at September 17, 2007 6:34 PM
Comment #233236

Were you so concerned about “The integrity of our constitution” when clinton appointed Janet “Branch Davidian” Reno AG and Web “Client Overbilling” Hubbel Asst. AG?

Doesn’t the constitution protect citizens from their own government entering their homes and kidnapping a child at gunpoint to appease a communist dictator of another country?

Doesn’t the constitution protect citizens from their own government cooking up false accusations to justify a full scale assault on their church?

Methinks your concern about constitutional integrity is a little partisan, no?

Posted by: Snardius at September 17, 2007 6:40 PM
Comment #233243

I can’t see anything wrong with Bush appointing an apostle as an interim AG. The place needs a thorough cleaning before it gets a real Attorney General. There are tons of shredded paper that needs to be thrown out and all the computers need new hard drives. Plus, it will probably take several months to dust all the archives and make them tidy.

Posted by: jlw at September 17, 2007 7:13 PM
Comment #233244

Wow. Leaving the problem in charge instead of confirming the solution. Talk about defeating your own purpose!

Seriously, all this will do is make the Dems look like they are holding up the confirmation of a good nominee for the sake of politics. Do you really want to put the word “obstructionist” back into Bush’s tiny dictionary?

Posted by: TheTraveler at September 17, 2007 7:18 PM
Comment #233250

Seriously, all this will do is make the Dems look like they are holding up the confirmation of a good nominee for the sake of politics.

But why should they change their tactics…they’ve been so successful up to now.

Posted by: Snardius at September 17, 2007 8:22 PM
Comment #233278

The Democrats aint gonna like anyone Bush nominates. Even if he nominated Hillary they wouldn’t like it. Just because it’s Bush doing the nominating.
It’s still politics as usual up there in DC. And the Democrats are really showing their new found bipartisanship.
But I have to wounder how qualified Mukasey is.

Posted by: Ron Brown at September 18, 2007 12:25 AM
Comment #233279

So dems will hold up the confirmation of a nominee more acceptable to them than the interim one Bush picks w/o confirmation? Aren’t they playing right into his hands? What incentive does Bush have to comply and hand over the documents if all they’re holding over his head is confirmation of a nominee he probably likes less than the one he’s got now without a fight?

This is nonsense. And blackmail-give us what we want or we don’t confirm your guy. Politics as usual I see. So much for “the most ethical Congress ever.”

Posted by: Silima at September 18, 2007 12:58 AM
Comment #233300

Gee, I’m still looking for that part of the Constitution that says Bush has to get the Senate’s permission to run the Justice Department.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at September 18, 2007 11:48 AM
Comment #233301

Biden was on Sunday morning saying that the litmus test is that the AG should be America’s lawyer and not the President’s lawyer. It was before his time (barely) but I wonder what he thought of JFK’s nomination for AG?

Fact is all Cabinet positions are political appointments, and post Bork the confirmation process for all appointments has become a political circus. we have “super majorities” and “nuclear options”, character assassinations (Tower), illegal immigrants (Baird and Chavez), and interest group lawsuits (the guy Clinton nominated for Veterans Affairs).

Makes for pretty good theater, but neither side can claim the moral highground of doing what’s best for the country.

Posted by: George in SC at September 18, 2007 11:58 AM
Comment #233308

Paul, very good analysis. I think Bush’s attempt at relying upon Keisler is a case of Bush grabbing enough rope to hang himself and his administration with. I think Democrats should assist Bush in this grab for rope, and refuse Mukasey’s confirmation or hearing, if politics is the objective.

On the other hand, if principle and good governance are the objectives, then I agree with you again, Leahy must insist on the subpeonae for more information before confirmation hearings may begin.

This is a win-win for Democrats on either grounds. Though the net effect may be a continuation of bad governance over the Justice Dep’t. for the remainder of Bush’s term, but, that consequence falls upon the President’s choices of management of the Justice Dep’t., no matter how you cut it.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 18, 2007 1:17 PM
Comment #233379

Many Dems claimed that Mukasey was acceptable to them. If they now want to play some silly political game, they really cannot complain if the President lets a person he likes act as AG. The problems is one of the Democrats making and the solution is in their hands.

I swear, Democrats are depressed by sunshine and flowers. It is also very interesting that they claim Bush is a dope and the person who tricks them all the time. What does that make Dems if Bush can consistently outsmart them?

Of course this is just a Dem political game. They prefer to keep the issue rather than find a solution. Leahy is being very dishonest about this.

Posted by: Jack at September 18, 2007 10:53 PM
Comment #233406

Jack, the only solutions are those Pres. Bush nominates. So far, his track record on solutions has been bankrupt to say the least.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 19, 2007 5:42 AM
Comment #233506


This one the Dems have previously praised. It is dishonest of them now to be shocked-shocked. I guess they just want Janet Reno back in the saddle.

Posted by: Jack at September 19, 2007 5:17 PM
Comment #234116

Jack- Alberto an Janet, just like the two bald
headed guys that put their heads together an
made an ass of them selves, on an old “Jack-Mule”

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