Right Thinking From The Left Coast
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Aborted Into A Corner

Over at The Corner, Stanley Kurtz offers his Scalito analysis.

This is a winning political move. Alito is at least as qualified as Roberts, and his Casey opinion will not sustain a convincing filibuster. The Democrats seem trapped here. Reid has warned the president not to nominate Alito. And despite the narrow and non-substantive character of Alito’s dissent in Casey, the Dems will be forced by their groups to make abortion the issue. So if there is no filibuster, this is going to come off as a huge victory for the president.

On the other hand, a failed filibuster against this qualified a nominee will be an even bigger victory. A filibuster will inundate us with repetitive analyses of the Casey decision. But there is nothing in that decision that will carry a majority of the public against Alito. Conservatives will be infuriated by the attempted “borking,” the Democrats will look obstructionist, and the filibuster will fail. If anything, that would be even better politically for the president and the Republicans.

The third, and least likely possibility, is a successful Democratic filibuster. That could only be the result of a successful borking, with major media malfeasance, and would make conservatives even madder. The result would be a gigantic election showdown with conservatives even more activated than liberals.

So every political outcome is positive. The downside is the possibility that a filibuster will hold up the larger legislative agenda. But I don’t think even moderate Republicans are politically endangered by this. They will break a filibuster and will not be punished. Moderate Democrats will be in more danger if they do filibuster. Again, I think this traps the Democrats between their own groups and the broader public. Big win for the president.

I tend to agree with this.  I also think, too, that Bush is hoping for a fight for one simple reason: he wants to clearly define the differences between Republicans and Democrats over abortion.  With the country split roughly 50/50 on this most polarizing of issues, and the Democrats sure to make abortion the central issue of the confirmation fight, this will enable Bush to show everyone, “Hey.  If you’re opposed to abortion, the only choice is the GOP.  For all my other faults, if you’re against baby murdering, you know who to vote for in 2006.” Even among the vast majority of citizens who support abortion, most don’t support unconditional abortion on demand, which is the only term the Democrats’ big-money donors will accept.  Bush is forcing his opponents to either support his nominee in order to maintain their appeal to the broader public, or to adopt the radical pro-abortion position, which will mollify their base but turtn them off to the public.

This is a smart, smart move by Bush.  Not only do we get a superb jurist of the highest caliber on the high court, but he gets to try and regain a little political capital with it.  This is the type of hardball I like seeing from this president, something we’ve seen precious too little of lately.

Update: I made a slight correction above, to change “anti-abortion” to “pro-abortion.”

Posted by Lee on 10/31/05 at 12:16 PM in Politics • Permalink

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