Is Rove Laying Some Election Year Traps?
Many conservatives and astute liberals love to speculate when Karl Rove is playing around with the political chesspieces. And today will likely spawn about the same kind of thing, because Rove seems poised to feed the Democrats some raw meat, and it looks quite a bit like they are ready to jump into whatever traps he is laying if just to get in one more anti-Bush remark as we head into an election season.
If there are two areas where Democrats are weak, they are the judiciary and national security. And if Rove can get any two issues above the front page fold by October, it would be those two, which still retain a good deal of the public's interest after the other hot-button issue, immigration, which he would sooner have disappear, unless the Dems choose to run on an amnesty platform.
So in order to get national security at the top of the agenda, President Bush today named Gen. Michael Hayden to replace CIA director Porter Goss. And if you thought the Alito hearings were nasty, the Dems will be lobbing their best stuff at Hayden for his confirmation hearings as DCI.
Hayden was formerly the director of the National Security Administration and was one of the architects of the wiretap program that upset many ACLU Dems. Expect the hearings to be contentious, especially given the fact that its membership includes such left wing partisans as Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Carl Levin (D-MI), and 2008 presidential candidate Russ Feingold (D-WI) who wants to censure the President for the wiretap program. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is already on record as being fairly supportive of the program, and Evan Bayh (D-IN) is a fairly conservative Democrat, but may very well need to put on a show, as he is listed as a contender for the presidency in 2008.
The questioning will be largely uninteresting and will cover much already-tilled ground about the wiretap program. The only part that may get our attention is the acerbic nature of the exchanges and the likely demagoguery by Rockefeller, Levin and Feingold as they try to portray an effort to protect the American people as a violation of those same people's civil liberties--which is just what Karl Rove wants.
The Dems want nothing more than to make the wiretap program appear as Bush's Big Brother reaching into America's homes, gathering civilian intelligence to enrich Halliburton, the Carlisle Group and any other whipping boy they can devise. But in such a transparent effort of selfish political gamesmanship, they will once again communicate to the American people that they are not at all serious about nor can they be trusted with securing the nation from terrorist and other threats--contemporaneously with their request that America to turn the Congress over to them.
And that leads to their agenda for a Democratically controlled Congress. If anyone can tell me what that is, I will gladly make an addendum to this post. But to pare down all of the language in which they will cast any proposals they offer, their plans are to impeach the President as retaliation for that of Bill Clinton, for 2000, 2002, and 2004, they plan a tax increase, and to put the brakes on any further judicial nominations. In other words, they continue to offer the same old bitter stuff they ran on in 2002 and 2004--"elect us because we're mad that we're out of power and because Bush is humiliating us."
And speaking of judicial nominations, the Republicans managed to get Bill Frist to behave like their Majority Leader and he is now pushing two judicial nominees who have heretofore been stalled by Senate Democrats. The Democrats are promising another unpleasant set of hearings for Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Given that he is a Bush staffer and a former member of Ken Starr's staff, the Dems will use the same political criteria to judge him as they have other Bush nominees. They are also all but promising a filibuster on Judge Terrence W. Boyle who has also been appointed for an Appeals Court position. And on this, there is no win for the Dems.
Both judges are indeed mainstream conservatives, but if that's all the Democrats can throw at them, they will have a very hard sell to the Gang of 14 who will likely not find any of this to be an exceptional circumstance enough to trigger their joining a filibuster.
But the show will be great in the summer and fall, and will be an excellent reminder to Americans why they have left the Democrats as the party out of power. And it seems all the more clear that the Democrats need us and our votes way, way more than we could ever need them.