My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


The Law of Unintended Consequences

At the time, I thought this was a great idea:

The Bush White House Thursday formally ended the American Bar Association's role as an early arbiter of the qualifications for nominees to the federal bench and the Supreme Court.

Coming in March, 2003, barely two months into his term, I thought the President had removed from the confirmation process a group that was openly hostile to him, and I assumed it would make it all that much easier to get his judges confirmed.

In retrospect, I wonder if the White House didn't make a huge miscalculation, as in removing the ABA, they have also managed to remove one of their own best arguments for many of these judges. Below is a list of ABA ratings for some of the judges who have been filibustered:

--John Roberts rated Well-Qualified (the highest rating)
--Priscilla Owen rated Well-Qualified
--Miguel Estrada rated Well-Qualified
--Charles Pickering rated Well-Qualified by a substantial majority
--Caroly Kuhl rated Well-Qualified by a substantial majority
--William Pryor rated Qualified by a substantial majority
--William Myers rated Qualified by a substantial majority
--Janice Rogers Brown rated Qualified by a majority

I know this list is incomplete, mostly just because I came up with these names from memory, but you get the picture.

I wonder if, had the administration kept the ABA involvement, it would have been able to make a better public case for the confirmation of these judges. Or if the ABA would have simply changed its process to reflect more poorly on these judges.

At any rate, it's hard to imagine that the public relations piece could have been handled any worse than the White House has handled the issue of judges. In truth, the Senate should not have to even consider the "nuclear option," but since the PR machine in the White House has been so inept, that's the only choice left.

You know, we've watched for four years as this White House has won two elections and passed a substantial legislative record. And through it all, it always seems as if they've bungled the PR piece. Some of both records can be attributed to 9/11, but we don't have that to fall back on any more. A group this good at winning ought to be much more successful at governing.

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