As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, November 02, 2007

Waa Waa Waa

I guess I didn't notice this yesterday, or it wasn't fully reported, but apparently Bush said that if Michael Mukasey isn't confirmed by the Senate, there won't be an Attorney General for the last 15 months of his term. Which is fitting, because the law means pretty much nothing to these guys.

"If the Senate Judiciary Committee were to block Judge Mukasey on these grounds, they would set a new standard for confirmation that could not be met by any responsible nominee for attorney general," Bush said in a speech at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

"That would guarantee that America would have no attorney general during this time of war," the president said.

This is a familiar tactic, where Bush does things and then blames it on the Democrats. His veto of Iraq funding with a timeline meant that Democrats were blocking the funding. His stopping the SCHIP bill meant that Democrats were playing politics with children's health. And now, his refusal to bring up a new nominee means that Democrats are "allowing" the position of Attorney General to go unfilled.

That's crazy. But it absolutely show you where his priorities lay. Bush cannot allow anyone who specifically cites waterboarding as torture to be the nation's top law enforcement official. To me, that means he personally authorized the technique, and he would be subject to future prosecution in that case. I agree with emptywheel that I'm OK with this issue being framed as one about torture:

You see, events thus far have made it very important for Bush to get Mukasey approved. While David Addington may have thought it in Bush's best interest to push Mukasey to adopt the party line, they're now at the place where, if Mukasey is rejected, it will be because of Bush's torture policy. (Frankly, this is unfortunate from a principled perspective, since it means that the Senators don't care about the unitary executive more generally, but it works to our advantage politically.) The press has spun the rising tension to be entirely about the issue of torture, which makes it inconceivable that, if Mukasey is rejected, the narrative will be anything but torture. Which will shine a bright light on the torture policy itself, and some Soccer Moms who might otherwise be ignorant that men are being tortured in their names may just discover that their government is doing reprehensible things.

Mukasey's other answers on executive power are actually worse, and grounds for dismissal, but it's on torture where Bush could get frogmarched. That's why he's pushing so hard. And there are a few Senators - Feinstein and Schumer seem the most likely on the Judiciary Committee - who make succumb to the pressure. We'll see on Tuesday.

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