Sunday, July 03, 2005

Supreme Court predictions

It looks like President Bush won't make his nomination to replace Justice O'Connor for a week or so, which leaves plenty of time for prognostication. Here's mine.

I actually have two guesses, based on two different aspects of Bush's behavior. Depending on how he actually chooses, a week from know I'll look like either a genius or an idiot, which is par for the course.

The first behavior to note is that of incredible fortitude -- that is, the unwavering belief in his own actions. The man never backs down. It doesn't matter what others think, he barrels ahead, taking no prisoners. This is not an administration that compromises. It's amazing, actually; where Clinton and previous Democratic administrations tended to back off in the face of criticism and seek some sort of compromise position, when the Bushies are criticized they just take a harder line. I've not seen anything like it in my lifetime. I don't know whether this reflects some sense of core belief or whether they're just stubborn, but there it is.

The second behavior to note is that of loyalty and tendency to operate within a fairly tight group of colleagues. Bush rewards loyalty above all else, which explains why Rumsfeld still has a job. He also doesn't have a large circle of advisors; he's operated with a small group of insiders for practically his entire political life. It's part of that loyalty thing, no doubt.

So, on to my predictions. If Bush follows his first behavior (ballsiness), he'll choose an extreme conservative, somebody like Michael Luttig or Janice Rogers Brown, someone that will appease the social conservatives and evangelicals who think he owes them one. If Bush follows his second behavior (loyalty to insiders), we're looking at Alberto Gonzales. Them's my picks.

Of course, if Bush goes for an extreme right-winger, all hell will break loose; the Senate will face political Armageddon, because the liberals and moderates won't stand for it. Then again, if Bush chooses Gonzales, the right-wingers will scream bloody murder (as they already are, in a pre-emptive campaign) because he isn't reliably conservative enough. (On a side note, this says something about how extreme these wackos are if they're complaining about Gonzales being too liberal...)

In any case, Bush would have a hard time finding a nominee that would please everyone. Not that he'd try to, of course; again, Bush just goes his own way, not seeming to care who he tramples over (right or left) to get to where he's going. It will be interesting to see which side of his personality he goes with for this important nomination.

Oh, and one last prediction -- which I actually first predicted a year or so ago. I continue to predict that the Valerie Plame affair will be this administration's Watergate, the one provable criminal activity, however minor, that will bring them down. The recent claims that the leaker was none other than Karl Rove, if true, could be the straw that breaks the back of this administration. Keep watching to see how things develop.

But that's just my opinion; reasonable minds may disagree.

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