Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Alito, Bush, Rumsfeld, and Reid

The Bush administration attempted to change the topic this week. They wanted to move away from the damning indictment of Libby and present a more positive image of a government moving forward with it's "mandate". Last week was horrible for the Bushies. Not only did they have to contend with the Libby story, but they also had the whithering Harriet Miers debacle to deal with. Now, Roxie thinks that the Miers nomination was a set up in the first place. Her view is that Miers was a bait and switch nomination that was never meant to succeed. Instead, Miers was the sacrificial lamb - a role that the fundamentalist would surely covet for the most brilliant man she ever met - that would be followed by a more Roberts-like nominee in order to really rally the troops and fend off a Democratic attack. It's an interesting argument and looking at the evidence thus far, it's a compelling one - almost.

The thing that has struck in my craw about Miers is that Harry Reid recommended her. I think Reid set Bush up. He knew the nomination wouldn't fly with the right and Bush fell for it because he likes to set up people he trusts - which are not necessarily the most qualified people for the job. By suggesting Miers, Reid was able to sit back and let the Democrats look moderate while the right wing was foaming at the mouth. It divided the opposition and made the Democratic Senators look downright moderate, which they are anyhow.

So Bush delivers a rallying nomination for both Democrats and Republicans. However while those sides will argue about Alito's rulings on mostly social issues, what most people will miss is that like Harriet Miers, Roberts, and Stephen Breyer, Alito is a corporate shill. Like most Republicans, he believes in a hand's off approach to corporate freedoms. Like most Republicans, he's a statist in that he wants less control in the federal government's powers, but has no problem with giving great powers to state and local governments. He also is not at all friendly to individual rights, also a Republican trait. I suggest that people look into his business rulings VERY closely. You won't find many differences between his rulings, Miers' work, Roberts or Breyer's rulings when it comes to corporate domination.

Actually, from the standpoint of abortion and a load of other privacy rights issues, Alito could be helpful in that he might ignite the silent majority into supporting and passing state laws and amendments that would enshrine those rights. To do so would be to take the issues away from the courts and make them nearly permanent. It would also give the Republicans, and to a lesser extent the Democrats as well, a series of talking points that could no longer use to rally their most radical elements. In other words, passing such laws and amendments, especially if we got a federal constitutional amendment, would bury the issues and move us forward as a society freeing us up to deal with, frankly, much tougher issues that really do divide our society such as poverty, trade policy, and health care.

In another attempt to change the subject and appear effective, the Bush administration held a press conference today on the potential avian flu epidemic. As I've noted before, the Bush administration is lagging way behind other countries in preparing for any potential problems. Forty other countries, for instance, have placed orders for Tamiflu - the only medication that might be able to treat any outbreak - already. Realizing that we were that far down the list and that this was a potential disaster, the Bush administration as well as members of Congress pressed companies to increase production of the drug and even passed tax incentives to build more factories. Note during this paragraph the word "potential". An outbreak of this flu may never happen and much of this money may be badly wasted. Still, I've advocated a position critical of the Bush administration's late response because we should be prepared just in case. For our country, with it's vast resources, not to be prepared would be appalling. However, Bush's speech today, announcing his package of plans (some of which were already dealt with by the Senate), he used the language of fear much in the same way he does with terrorists alerts. He's attempting to scare people for support rather than comfort them and I wonder how long he thinks this tactic will work before fatigue sets in?

Someone who's gaining great comfort from this scare is Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He was Chairman of the Board of the company that holds the rights to Tamiflu. He still holds millions of dollars in stock in the company and has recused himself of any decisions in combatting a potential epidemic. Nice. Rummy profits from a "potential pandemic" while Cheney profits from a war that was not necessary.

Not to be outdone by the Bush administration, Senator Harry Reid pulled his second shrewd political maneuver in a month by calling the Senate into a closed session. He completely caught the Republican leadership off guard with this tactic. By doing so, Reid some very valid points about the constitutional role of Congress to act as a check and balance to the executive branch by using investigative techniques towards oversight. In specific, Reid referred to the Libby indictment in the Plame leak case. Republicans have abdicated their role in investigating this issue. By doing so, they've handed Reid a big issue that he can use to hammer on them with for through the next election cycle. It also gave Reid a method to bring the media attention back to discussing the Libby case thereby circumventing the Bush efforts to change the topic from their corruption problems. I suspect that was Reid's intention all along.

Oh, and before you cry foul about using the closed session as a political stunt, check how many times the Senate had closed sessions while investigating Clinton's impeachment. (hint, more than 8 times)


Scott said...

Intuitively I'd agree with Roxie. Though it reeks of Rove. "Pretend to select someone you really want, then opt for someone who will further our financial goals. The conservatives will come back together for you and stick their noses right back up your bum once you pick someone they think they like." The response, "Good plan turd blossom."

B.D. said...

Roxie's theory makes sense, but then how does one make that jive with Harry Reid's comments? I suppose one could think that Reid was set up as well. Or maybe, as I propose, Reid set up Bush? I guess we'll just have to wait until some staffer writes a book and mentions it.