Third Party & Independents Archives

Would You Like Syrup on Your Waffle, Senators?

The Senate last night voted to confirm the president’s nominee for Attorney General of the United States, Michael Mukasey, with a 53-40 vote. According to the Washington Post, this is the lowest level of support for an AG in Senate confirmation voting since 1952. Could the reason the vote was so close be because the guy refuses to say whether or not he would support waterboarding as an interrogation technique?

Ed Kennedy, someone with whom I very rarely agree, seems to think so...

"The next attorney general must restore confidence in the rule of law," he said. "We cannot afford to take the judgment of an attorney general who either does not know torture when he sees it or is willing to look the other way."

The point of this piece is not meant to debate whether or not waterboarding is torture. Stephen Daugherty and Lee Jamison have both written excellent articles on that subject to the left and right of this column, respectively. No, the point of this piece is to point out something the mainstream media seems content to sweep under the rug...

Toward the end of the AFP article (link above) a very short reference was made to some seemingly important absent Senators in the confirmation vote:

Absent from the vote were Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Christopher Dodd, as well as Republican presidential hopeful John McCain.

And that was all that was written on the subject... interesting, no? At least the AP article gave a little more, although it still left something to be desired:

Not voting were Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden of Delaware, Hillary Clinton of New York, Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Barack Obama of Illinois. All four had said they opposed Mukasey's nomination.

Interesting that the four Democratic presidential candidates, the only four in the Senate, decided not to vote on the confirmation of our next AG as if it were something meaningless like a resolution as to whether or not a group like should be taking out political ads... oh, wait... most of them did bother to debate and vote on that one... my bad... but you get the point. If they opposed the nomination, why did they not attempt to register their opposition?

What this tells me is that these four senators are not opposed to what each of them believes is torture enough to actually be on record in voting against it. They are happy to seek the liberal vote from tree stumps in New Hampshire, but when it gets to be nitty-gritty-go-on-record-and-do-your-duty time, not a single one of them is anywhere to be seen. They wouldn't, after all, want this to come back and bite them in the ass come general election time, now would they?

McCain's absense in this vote, although certainly more understandable, is just as cowardly. As a former tortured POW himself, the senator from Arizona had a real chance to go on record and make his stance known. The problem for McCain was a little different, though... whereas the Democratic contenders had the general election to worry about, McCain has the primary season to get through first, and there is no way he could win the conservative vote with a vote of his own against GW's pick for AG.

I was looking forward to this confirmation vote because I wanted to see how brave the men and woman running to be the leader of the free world are... and I was bitterly disappointed.

Posted by Doug Langworthy at November 9, 2007 2:46 PM
Comment #237963

Doug, I think the waterboarding issue was for public consumption. The real issue behind the Nay votes was Mukasey’s position on the Unitary Executive theory which posits that the president has dictatorial power over the nation and government if the president perceives a threat warranting such authoritarian rule.

The fact that he was confirmed, was a rationalization by a handful of Senators that he could not do much harm in the 13.5 months remaining, and the advent of having no AG as the Pres. threatened, had consequences for Congress in terms of oversight and accountability.

I don’t think he should have been confirmed. But, like all decisions, there are opportunity costs associated regardless of which way the decision goes. The opportunity costs both Constitutional and political were pretty high leaving the nation without an AG for 13.5 months.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 9, 2007 3:44 PM
Comment #237965

“They wouldn’t, after all, want this to come back and bite them in the ass come general election time, now would they?”

Which is why a hypocritical idiot like kennedy didn’t say a damn thing about it when his party was doing it, but spins it into a circus show when the other side is in charge.

This whole confirmation vote is pretty slimy though. The left and its media make it into such a huge deal and then their Pres. candidates won’t put their money where their mouth is.

Posted by: kctim at November 9, 2007 4:06 PM
Comment #237995

Kctim, it’s obvious (to me at least) why Democratic presidential candidates didn’t want to put their money where their mouths are on this one.

Some of them think they might become president and others think they might become VP. Affirmative votes would alienate their ultra-partisan primary voters, but negative votes could come back to haunt them and be used as ammunition by political opponents down the road—both in the general election and during their potential administrations.

Whatever else you might say about Hillary (for example) she’s not a complete idiot. She’s not going to go on record saying that presidential appointees should be voted down if they refuse to declare independence from the policies of the President who appointed them.

It’s one thing for Bush and his appointees to be held to such an ahistorical standard. It’s another for a Democrat to, especially a Democrat with the last name Clinton.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at November 10, 2007 1:09 AM
Comment #238004

Loyal Opp, I agreed with every word you said until: “It’s one thing for Bush and his appointees to be held to such an ahistorical standard.”

It is a Constitutional standard, not a historical. Independent AG’s have not been that uncommon in history, only in recent history.

It is wrong of Americans and partisans to assume that everyone is partisan and therefore everyone is incapable of taking a primary oath to the Constitution and law and upholding that oath despite differences with the president. Fact is, we have so many partisans filling these positions precisely because of these false assumptions, that everyone is partisan.

There is a self-fulfilling prophecy at work here, that requires nothing more than changing the expectation to correct. With the growth in numbers of Independent voters, I suspect we will see just such a shift occurring over the next several election cycles.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 10, 2007 9:43 AM
Comment #238012

Aren’t their campaign headquarters located at the “Waffle House” ?

[#01] Vote For Attorney General of the United States, Michael Mukasey:

  • [_] YES

  • [_] NO

  • [_] MAYBE

  • [#02] Drivers’ Licenses for Illegal Aliens:

  • [_] YES

  • [_] NO

  • [_] MAYBE

  • [_] NEITHER

  • [#03] Amnesty for Illegal Aliens:

  • [_] YES

  • [_] YES

  • [X] BOTH
  • [#04] Vote For:

  • [_] FENCE and NO FUNDS to BUILD IT

  • [_] NO FENCE and FUNDS to BUILD IT

  • [_] NO FENCE and NO to BUILD IT



  • [X] NONE OF THE ABOVE (See [#03] above)
  • [#05] Vote For IRAQ WAR:

  • [_] YES

  • [_] NO

  • [_] IF I knew now what I should have known then …

  • [#06] Cut spending and borrowing:

  • [_] YES

  • [_] NO

  • [#07] Invent New Ways to Squeeze the Middle Class:

  • [X] YES

  • [_] NO
  • [#08] It is a:

  • [_] BIRD

  • [_] PLANE

  • [_] UFO

  • [X] WAFFLE
  • [#09] Raises for Congress Persons:

  • [_] YES!

  • [_] YES! !

  • [_] YES! ! !

  • [X] ALL OF THE ABOVE (we’ve been doing a great job as evidenced by our 11%-to-18% approval ratings!

  • Posted by: d.a.n at November 10, 2007 11:44 AM
    Comment #238014

    d.a.n… brilliant…

    in the words of Homer Simpson, it’s funny ‘cause it’s true.

    Posted by: Doug Langworthy at November 10, 2007 12:07 PM
    Comment #238083

    Thanks! : )

    I was looking forward to this confirmation vote because I wanted to see how brave the men and woman running to be the leader of the free world are… and I was bitterly disappointed.
    Yes, and there simply doesn’t appear to be much leadership in D.C., which is allowing our long list of problems to growing dangerously in number and severity. And none of the candidates seem to be too worried about it. They waffle on the tough questions, and all of their voting records are abysmal. But why should they worry, when Congress enjoys an average seat retention rate of 96.5% since year 1980. However, the seat retention rate fell from 98.7% in Nov-2004 to 93.1% in Nov-2006 (that’s a 5.6% drop), and it wouldn’t be too surprising to see the seat-retention rate fall an additional 5.1% (10.7%) down to 88.0% for the first time since year 1960.
    Why? Because:
    • The state of the economy by Nov-2008.

    • Massive debt which fuels inflation

    • Iraq and Afghanistan; the cost to maintain any semblance of peace will be very expensive.

    • Illegal immigration. Politicians are underestimating the voters anger of Congress’ doing-nothing, and trying to fool us again with another amnesty like the amnesty of 1986 that more than quadrupled the problem.

    • Voters are starting to understand that the tax system is actually regressive.

    But, Congress persons are also aware of the Voter Paradox in which:

    • Even though most voters give Congress low approval ratings,

    • most voters still reward Congress persons with 96.5% re-election rates since year 1980.
    However, as the economic factors continue to deteriorate, and the middle class continues to get squeezed, the more likelihood that incumbents in two-party duopoly may lose their cu$hy, coveted incumbencies. The last election was a good start (with a 5.6% drop), but it will need to be much larger to ever send a loud and clear message to Congress who is relying on that 96.5% average since year 1980 to hold true a while longer.

    Posted by: d.a.n at November 11, 2007 5:41 PM
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