Thursday, September 13, 2007

Here come the bulldozers

[Ted getting his life together, post-9/11. Courtesy Washington Post.]

-- by Dave

So Harry Reid says he's going to block any nomination of Ted Olson as the new Attorney General.

But then, he also swore once that a bill to renew Bush's domestic-wiretapping program would never pass, either. Er, mebbe not.

And besides, George W. Bush isn't the kind of president who would take a vow like that as a warning. He'd take it as a challenge.

Which is why it's probably worth paying attention to the already-building campaign to push Olson through.

We got an early glimpse of it yesterday on Tucker Carlson's show -- featuring, as we predicted, Victoria Toensing, Ted and Barbara's old pal herself -- to do just that (video here):
CARLSON: So of all the people --and I don’t mean this against Ted Olson, who I think seems like a very smart, decent person -- but of all the nominees whose names you could float, potential nominees whose names you could float out there, his has got to be close to the top on the polarizing list among Democrats. Democrats don’t like him.

Why would the White House say this, that he’s under consideration?

TOENSING: Well, maybe the White House is getting really smart about who they would consider for attorney general.

Look, the next attorney general cannot have—cannot afford to have to spend time with legal training wheels. You can have one second where you have to learn who does what in which department at the Justice Department. And by good fortune, Ted Olson has that criteria, and in addition to being one of the best legal experts in our country.

I mean, I don’t know, if you remember it, but Ted was back in the Reagan Justice Department...


TOENSING: ... and then he was solicitor general on 9/11, and had to deal with all the issues as solicitor general that the new attorney general is going to have to deal with.

CARLSON: I think he’s a superior guy and I think he would be far better than Alberto Gonzales. Not that that’s saying much.


CARLSON: My only point is a political one. His name, because he was involved or perceived to be involved in anti-Hillary and Bill Clinton activities during the ‘90s, his name is one that resonates with almost all Democrats.

TOENSING: But, Tucker, we have gotten past that.


TOENSING: I mean, that was an issue—because I was working on his nomination for solicitor general—that was an issue then. But I think by now, there has to be some honest Democrats in the Senate who know that when Ted was solicitor general, he was a superb lawyer and he was not partisan. As a matter of fact, Senator Feingold praised Ted for his argument in McCain-Feingold—and oh by the way, Ted won the case, too, before the Supreme Court. So that makes—that may not endear him to many conservatives, but Feingold is one of the most liberal senators...

CARLSON: He certainly is. But Feingold is also I think, in contrast to a lot of the people on the Hill, a man of principle. Feingold goes against his own party when he disagrees with them...


TOENSING: You just need a few of those, you know.

CARLSON: So here is—I don’t know—here’s what some senators are saying. Harry Reid, the leader of Senate Democrats. “Ted Olson will not be confirmed,” he says. “He’s a partisan. The last thing we need is a partisan.”

Then you go over to the Republican side. Orrin Hatch. “I have been warned by a number of Democrats, they are not going to let that happen. The White House, if they put forward Olson’s nomination, don’t understand the people up here.” They’re rolling over already. I mean, if Orrin Hatch says, don’t do it...

TOENSING: Well, I mean, I’m not sure what Orrin Hatch could have said right after that, but you know, I’m going to be here to support Teddy, because I know how strongly Orrin backed Ted for solicitor general back in the 2000, 2001.

CARLSON: Does the White House want to fight on this, do you think?

TOENSING: I don’t know, you know. They’re not telling me whether they want to fight or not.

But here is one of the most important factors for Ted Olson, and that is, he really cares about the Justice Department, and the people who work there know that.

I mean, why else—why else would he even consider taking the position?


TOENSING: He’s just—he’s just gotten his life back in order. His wife was killed on 9/11, and he just married a wonderful woman, Lady Booth. He’s making more money than he would be making as attorney general in his private law practice. He doesn’t need his resume ticket punched, for goodness sakes.

The only reason he would consider taking this job is because he cares so much about the department and about the morale and about the reputation. Isn’t this what the Democrats want?

CARLSON: Then, why is the White House—I think you make a really strong argument. I just have seen this White House again and again kind of hang out its allies to dry here a little bit. Why would they float his name?

TOENSING: Well, they finally have an A-team—they have an A-team all put together there.


TOENSING: I mean, at the White House. With Ed Gillespie...

CARLSON: Right...

TOENSING: So finally, maybe they have people who are there who know that it’s important to get a good attorney general.

CARLSON: But just as a procedural matter, just quickly, they know—they have to know that you float Ted Olson’s name out there and people like Harry Reid are going to go bonkers, right?

TOENSING: Harry Reid is going to go bonkers over any Republican who is strong enough to be attorney general.

CARLSON: But why doesn’t someone from the White House go over to Harry Reid’s office, and in private say, here is the guy we’re thinking about, here is the case for him. You know, why float this on the AP wire, where Ted Olson is likely to get—certain to be criticized?

TOENSING: You have got to bring somebody—you bring Gillespie here to ask him that, but I’m just telling you, you couldn’t find a better candidate than Ted Olson. Who meets the criteria that I just talked about?

CARLSON: I don’t know.

TOENSING: No training wheels...

I wonder if Harry Reid and his fellow Democrats can see what's happening here. Olson's defenders are already building the theme -- which is already being picked up by the larger media in reporting on this -- that their opposition to Olson is purely a matter of partisanship. Of course the Democrats are lining up against him; they're only doing it for base political motives.

Never mind that Olson has a long history of giving misleading testimony and distorting facts, often and remorselessly enough to disqualify him as the nation's Attorney General. He's done it twice before Congress -- first in 1984, when covering up his own bad legal counsel for the Reagan White House in the Rita Lavelle scandal, and again before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2001 during his confirmation hearings as Solicitor General -- as well as before the Supreme Court. Why, apparently, that's all in the past now, since Olson lost his wife on 9/11 and has since has pulled his life together, as Toensing reminds us. Sniff.

Unless Democrats can figure out a way to change the perception about their reasons for opposing Olson, Harry Reid may be forced to watch another one of his promises get the BushCo bulldozer treatment.

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