Thursday, December 16, 2004

Using the Kerik Affair to Save the Supreme Court

Update [2004-12-17 12:16:28 by Magorn]:
in addition to Kerik's mysterious 3rd wife uncovered last week. The NY Times is now questioning whether Kerik even HAD a nanny Stay tuned

In nominating Kerik to be head of Homeland Security, the Bush administration has just given Congressional Democrats, the greatest Christmas present of all time; it remains to be seen if they will have the guts to use it.

As nearly the entire free world knows by now Kerik's past was such that he should have trouble getting vetted for municipal dog-catcher, much less head of the biggest law-enforcement agency in the country.  Even better, the person doing the vetting was none-other than Attorney general nominee Alberto "torture memo" Gonzales doing the same fine job here as he did Reviewing death row cases for GW in Texas.   The nature and extent of Kerik's problems and the slapdash way the Whitehouse vetted, him has given Congressional Democrats an opening a mile wide to the question is, will they  hit this hole and run for daylight?

Its no secret that a nasty fight  is brewing in the Senate over second term nominees  particularly to the judiciary.  Bush has all but vowed to nominate clones of the evil genius Antonin Scalia to take over the federal bench, and , if he's lucky, the Supreme court.  Meanwhile,  republicans are talking about "going nuclear" and getting tricky Dick Cheney to make a ruling that removes the filibuster privilege for presidential nominees   making the argument that failing to confirm 10 out of 290 judges was proof the democrats are "obstructionist".  They seek the moral high ground by claiming that they are simply enforcing the "will of the people" and the "president has a right to his own nominees".  

    Ah. But that was last week.  That was BK, before Kerick.   That was before the White House put forward a man with Mob connections, abuse of power complaints, questionable financial dealings, multiple mistresses, a hidden wife, and an illegal immigrant Nanny, to head the largest, most powerful, and most sensitive Cabinet post in the entire federal government.  That was before the White house gave itself a serious case of lack of credibility.

Right now, this is merely a major embarrassment to the President,  something that will blow over in a week or two and be quietly forgotten.   But it shouldn't be.  It should be used as the weapon it is to stall every other major Bush nominee for the remainder of his term.   Every time a nominee is put forward a democratic Senator on the appropriate committee should publicly demand (on the Sunday morning talk show circuit ) that the committee re-vet the nominee and the White House make the candidate available to committee staffs for a completely new  background investigation.  

Of course the White house will refuse as will the Republican controlled Chairs.  Trap Sprung.   Cue  Said senator taking to the floor to begin a filibuster.  When the GOP starts criticizing the Senator he can, in clear conscience say, "the filibuster isn't about politics, its about protecting the American people;   we all remember how close we came to letting a man with ties to organized crime run our border security and protect us from terrorists.  I'm simply trying to make sure that it never happens again"  he can strike a pose of righteous indignation and say "the White house has proven they can't be trusted with investigations this kind  and if the nominee has nothing to hide, why are they refusing to make him available?".

Eventually the Administration will be left with 1 of three unsavory choices: withdraw the Nominee, Allow the Dems to pour over his life (again) with a fine toothed comb (done properly this alone could take months, and dig up all sorts of potentially disqualifying stuff).  Or use procedural tricks to break the filibuster, whereupon the come across a) looking like they have something to hide and B) looking like  bullies who don't care about the ethics of the nominee

The opportunity has been handed to us on a silver platter. Kerik is not the first nominee to have trouble passing a background check.  But he is the first to nominated to such an important post to be  dripping with   serious ethical, legal and moral problems This shouldn't be a seven day-wonder of a story, It  should be the Whitewater of the Bush administration.

 In a single nomination he has given the Dems a legitimate reason to discard the deference traditionally given  to presidential nominees, and demand the right to scrutinize each under a microscope.   The big question is will the Dems under, with that noted Firebrand Harry Reid  calling the shots, seize on this opportunity to Make GW's life hell for the next four years, and possibly delay at least one Supreme Court appointment?  Or will they once again let W. Teflon bush slide out from under another huge mistake?


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