WASHINGTON, July 11
On the two big stories consuming the Gang of 500 -- the terror attacks that hit London and the SCOTUS drama -- here are our thoughts:
We have nothing particularly smart or original to say about how what happened in London will affect American politics.
Most everything depends on a series of complicated judgments about mass national psychology and symbolism.
As they say on cable, only time will tell on this one.
As for that other story -- well, on that one, we have some stuff we would like to share with the class.
If you aren't a reporter working the story, an activist, or a would-be source, you can't possibly fathom how many person-hours have been spent in the last 125 hours playing the retirement guessing game. If the Chief doesn't announce his retirement in the next 72 hours, someone needs to go back and reconstruct where all the rumors came from.
For all the media breathlessness over how much money, preparation, and Boyden-versus-Ralph contretemps are involved, the REAL story is going to be how each side tries to impact public opinion.
Actually, strike that (and reverse it!). The REAL REAL story is that the press is so anxious for a battle that it ignores a basic reality: confirmation fights are only genuine fights if there is a chance that a nominee might not be confirmed and/or that members of the president's party might vote against him.
For all the huffing and puffing on the right (and in the Washington Post today. . .), does anyone really, truly think that a single Republican Senator would vote against a nominee for the Highest Court in the Land put forward by George W. Bush? (And, yes, we are including the Honorable Alberto Gonzales in that rhetorical challenge. . .)
So -- barring something we can't imagine -- the ONLY way the President's nominee(s) could be stopped would be by a filibuster. Neither side knows who would win the public hearts and minds if it came to that, but there ARE two things that can be said: (a) the left-wing groups overrate the chances of such a thing happening; and (b) the Republicans are more confident of winning that PR war than are the Democrats.
Also, allow us to do our best Bernie Goldberg imitation and posit that many in the press (with its bias towards conflict, mainly) are hoping the President nominates someone (or someones) who is deemed "out of the mainstream" by both Nan Aaron and Evan Bayh; who has a rich history of questionable land deals, complex investments, and overturned opinions; and who can instantly be characterized/caricatured as a cross between Robert Bork, Jerry Falwell, and (well) Clarence Thomas.
Barring any retirement from news from the Supreme Court this morning, the events likely to get the most play on the aforementioned foci will be President Bush's 10:40 am ET address on the war on terror in Quantico, Virginia and tomorrow morning's 7:00 am ET breakfast meeting the President will host at the White House with Sens. Frist, Reid, Specter, and Leahy.
ABC News' O'Keefe reports, "Chief Justice William Rehnquist arrived at SCOTUS at approximately 9:22am ET. He entered an underground garage with a full security detail. No cameras, no comment."
The Senate reconvenes after its July 4 recess to discuss the Department of Homeland Security's Appropriations Act at 2:00 pm ET.
In your look at the week ahead:
President Bush will meet with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong tomorrow.