Manuel Miranda -- a columnist I've quickly come to enjoy -- has an article today about the problems that might be created by a Bush administration more interested in running up the score than in changing the judicial landscape for the long term.

Conservatives' greatest fear is that the White House is not thinking ahead to the next nomination and that the conduct of the Roberts fight will limit the President in his next pick. On Aug. 8, the Washington Post's Mike Allen riled up conservatives with this: "Some Republican strategists said they have calculated that support for Roberts among Republican senators is locked down and that Roberts' supporters want to try to attract Democrats by packaging him as more centrist and less doctrinaire than had originally been assumed." Yikes.

Whatever Senate liberals and their can't-everyone-get-along friends in the media may say, the Constitution defines a consensus nominee as someone who gets 51 votes in the Senate, or just to be filibuster-safe, let's say 60. A GOP groupthink that aims to get much more than that imperils this president's freedom. It may prevent him from nominating someone like a long-tenured circuit-court judge with a judicial record.

Political campaigners understandably define victory by the greatest number of votes obtained. In this case, that would be a mistake. Statecraft must be more farsighted. Each additional Democrat vote obtained for Judge Roberts by "message" pandering, has a higher marginal cost to President Bush's freedom in the next Supreme Court nomination.

Emphasis mine. Rather than try for 100 votes, 49 of which don't matter, I wish the administration would spend time defending the controversial positions John Roberts has taken and explaining why those positions are the correct ones.

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