Hearings for court nominees restored.
September 17, 2002 12:06 PM   Subscribe

Hearings for court nominees restored. "It was not until the Democrats regained control of the Senate last summer and Leahy assumed the chair that hearings and confirmations resumed. As of this writing, the Democratic-led Senate Committee had held hearings on 82 Bush nominees, approving 80 of them -- including 16 women. The full Senate had already confirmed 73. This is normal -- traditional. It was not that way from 1994 to 2001."

It's enough to make a Shrub hugger angry, isn't it?
posted by nofundy (41 comments total)

 
"It's enough to make a Shrub hugger angry, isn't it?"

What?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:16 PM on September 17, 2002


Is there any valid argument that this is not the truth? I'd like to hear one, because to me it looks pretty black and white, and I know that nothing's black and white.
posted by zekinskia at 12:19 PM on September 17, 2002


Great "shrub-hugger" meme, nofundy!
posted by DenOfSizer at 12:36 PM on September 17, 2002


I'd like to propose a moratorium on the use of "Shrub" as reference to the President, until something less lame and bandwagonesque has been thought up.
posted by dhoyt at 12:41 PM on September 17, 2002


Seriously, isn't "Bush" derogatory enough?
posted by callmejay at 12:47 PM on September 17, 2002


and "Dubya" too.
posted by machaus at 12:48 PM on September 17, 2002


How about "Air Head One"?
posted by nicwolff at 12:48 PM on September 17, 2002


Normally, I'd refer you to the Presidential Nominations page on THOMAS, but it appears to be busted at the moment.
I hear they're working hard to get it fixed, though.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:49 PM on September 17, 2002


You've missed the real story, Nofundy. What's important here is that the Democrats have imposed rigid ideological purity tests, denying the Senate the chance to vote on very qualified judges who didn’t pass muster to the Democrats’ core special interest groups.

It’s gotten so bad that even that far-right publication, the Washington Post, is calling for Pat Leahy to cut it out.

posted by mojohand at 12:54 PM on September 17, 2002


nicwolff: argh! Don't forget "Twitching Chimp"
posted by DenOfSizer at 1:07 PM on September 17, 2002


"It?s gotten so bad" - According to whom. If Bush is going to nominate/appoint (whatever) judicial activists that are going to preserve the freedom of corporations at the cost of my own then they deserve to be rejected.

"As of this writing, the Democratic-led Senate Committee had held hearings on 82 Bush nominees, approving 80 of them -- including 16 women. The full Senate had already confirmed 73." - This doesn't sound like a "rigid ideological purity test" as the majority of his justices are being approved.
posted by Wong Fei-hung at 1:10 PM on September 17, 2002


The real ideological test is being done to the nominees put forward by the Smirking Chimp cabal (note I didn't use the Shrub moniker.) Before the Gingrich era of partisan politics the presidents actually consulted the Senators and tried to nominate persons acceptable to BOTH sides. Unfortunately Newt changed everything and now it's gutter-snipe war and the Dems at their worst still occupy the high ground while the real power hides below ground in his Bunker-of-Evil whilst controlling his Sock Puppet. (no Shrub used again, aren't I nice and compliant with reasonable requests?)
posted by nofundy at 1:21 PM on September 17, 2002


Whenever I read someone referring to President Bush as "Shrub" I immediately skip over whatever else they have to say, assuming that nothing insightful will make it through the desire to defame the man. I did the same thing from 1992-96 with President Clinton and the phrase "Slick Willie." The deficits of either man's character are easily proven without resorting to name calling.

That said, I think that the approval of judicial candidates rarely rests on much more than the candidate's ideological beliefs, and I'd rather have this fact openly acknowledged than clumsily maneuvered around for the sake of decorum.
posted by muta at 1:25 PM on September 17, 2002


I'm with muta on this. If you want to be taken seriously, then cease with the namecalling already. All the "Shrub", "Asscroft", and "Rummy" jabs are sub-intelligent and well beyond being funny.
posted by picea at 1:35 PM on September 17, 2002


What? Democrats don't want judges of the exact idealogical opposite of them? UNPOSSIBLE! Seriously, this is tit for tat - and one of the few places they've played real hardball (thankfully).

Also, considering the Post is the paper that urged a Whitewater investigation but pooh-poohed one into Bush's dirty deals I'm not exactly about to rally around their editorial page.
posted by owillis at 1:49 PM on September 17, 2002


Before the Gingrich era of partisan politics the presidents actually consulted the Senators and tried to nominate persons acceptable to BOTH sides.

nofundy, I have to disagree slightly with your assertion. While Newt and his bunch may have perfected the art of blocking nominations (just look at the logjam of unconfirmed Clinton nominees), this kind of behavior really first reared its head during Bork's confirmation hearings. So I would say the Democrat-led committee and the Reagan administration ended the consultative practice in the confirmation process. (Now we can all point fingers at each other to determine which was to blame.)
posted by trox at 1:53 PM on September 17, 2002


What's important here is that the Democrats have imposed rigid ideological purity tests, denying the Senate the chance to vote on very qualified judges

More rigid ideological purity tests that the ones the Republicans imposed on Clinton nominees which in most cases never had a hearing much less a vote of any kind?
posted by aaronscool at 1:57 PM on September 17, 2002


Validity (or invalidity) of these austere and learned arguments aside, folks of all political persuasions should learn that resorting to "clever" nicknames for political figures generally only undermines the credibility of the nicknamer.

I'm just as sick of the "Shrub" moniker as I was of the "Slick Willy" bit. It just makes everyone involved look trite and silly, in my opinion.
posted by KiloHeavy at 3:29 PM on September 17, 2002


"It's enough to make a Shrub hugger angry, isn't it?"

Probably to the same degree something like this - from a press release this year - would make "shrub-haters" angry. ("President Bush met with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to urge the Senate to hold hearings and votes on the circuit court nominees who were announced on May 9, 2001. Of these first 11 nominees, only 3 have even received hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the 8 remaining nominees have now waited a full year for hearings.")


"More rigid ideological purity tests that the ones the Republicans imposed on Clinton nominees which in most cases never had a hearing much less a vote of any kind?"

The answer appears to be "yes, more rigid". ("When Democrats ran the Senate they confirmed an average of 65 nominees of Democrat presidents (1993-94) but only 47 nominees of Republican presidents (1987-92) per year, a partisan differential of 18. In contrast, when Republicans ran the Senate they confirmed an average of 49 nominees of Republican presidents (1981-86) and 41 nominees of Democrat presidents (1995-2000) per year, a partisan differential of 8.")
posted by MidasMulligan at 3:37 PM on September 17, 2002


"When Democrats ran the Senate they confirmed an average of 65 nominees of Democrat presidents (1993-94) but only 47 nominees of Republican presidents (1987-92) per year, a partisan differential of 18. In contrast, when Republicans ran the Senate they confirmed an average of 49 nominees of Republican presidents (1981-86) and 41 nominees of Democrat presidents (1995-2000) per year, a partisan differential of 8."

I'm sorry to inform you that these are incredibly slanted statistics from a very partisan site and have no meaning to the comments above.

First off if you INCLUDE the most recent 73 nominees IN THE LAST YEAR it brings down the Democrat's Partisan Differential to about 13. THEN if you include more years (than just the one!) for the Democrats you'll diminish that hypothetical "differential" further. I'd postulate that by selectively including or excluding years you can massage these numbers any way you choose as appears to have been done to favor the Republicans.

Bottom line is this:
In the last 5 years the way judicial nominees have been handled has been radically altered. This started with what was essentially a filibuster by Senate Republicans to the vast majority of Clinton Nominees, continued with Bush deciding to exclude American Bar Assc.'s recommendations (a 50 year tradition) and has led to a more stringent review of the nominees at the committee level.

In my opinion it's amazing that the Democratic Senate is allowing this many nominees to be voted on by the full Senate as they would have been well within their rights to continue the obstructionist practices the Republicans before them had.
posted by aaronscool at 4:03 PM on September 17, 2002


I fear a government without gridlock. Happy news all around.
posted by thirteen at 4:23 PM on September 17, 2002


I'm sorry to inform you that these are incredibly slanted statistics from a very partisan site and have no meaning to the comments above.

"Incredibly slanted" as opposed to, er, an op-ed piece by a frustrated judge who - as a democratic nominee - never got a hearing? Who says Phil Gramm "stabbed him in the back", while painting the noble Pat Leahy as a "man of great integrity"? Yep - that's the article where you'll find no partisanship - just straight, objective truth.

I can easily see why you'd only want to look at the last 5 years. Nice to ignore the last few times the process was "radically altered" (which party was it again that actually turned a judicial nominee's name into the verb "to Bork"?)
posted by MidasMulligan at 4:59 PM on September 17, 2002


Before the Gingrich era of partisan politics the presidents actually consulted the Senators and tried to nominate persons acceptable to BOTH sides.

For a more nuanced view of the hyper-partisanship which seems to afflict more and more of our political process, I recommend this book. While it focuses first and foremost on campaign finance, it perforce explains a lot of the back-biting that mess engenders.
posted by Nicolae Carpathia at 5:12 PM on September 17, 2002


For more on the whole Bork saga, try his book or this one, which includes a preface by him. I disagree vehemently with much of what both Bork and Boot have to say, but these make illuminating reading.
posted by Nicolae Carpathia at 5:32 PM on September 17, 2002


BTW Nicolae ... love the name. Nothng improves a discussion list like the presence of the anti-christ :).
posted by MidasMulligan at 5:39 PM on September 17, 2002


I can easily see why you'd only want to look at the last 5 years. Nice to ignore the last few times the process was "radically altered"

Please enlighten me? When was the last time the process was changed as much as it has been in the last 4-5 years?

--Prior to then there was a long 50+ year tradition of cooperation in Judge nominations (aside from Supreme Court nominees which have always been a political battle).
--Prior to then the president would review a nominee's marks from the American Bar Association
--Prior to then it was unheard of for the majority party to refuse to even have a hearing on a court nominees.

And to say that website's statistics aren't "skewed" one only has to look at the following example

"Democrats blocked 7.3 Republican nominees per year by refusing them hearings during 1987-92. By contrast, Republicans blocked 4.3 Democrat nominees per year by refusing them hearings during 1995-98."

How is this inaccurate?
--Let's compare a 5 year sample with a 3 year one.
--Lets exclude the last 2 years of the Republican Senate's blockade of nominees from Clinton because then the Republicans would look bad...

There is no author ascribed to that website's tirade but there is this foundation's name and address at the bottom which on their own about page professes this:

"Free Congress Foundation is politically conservative, but it is more than that: it is also culturally conservative. Most think tanks talk about tax rates or the environment or welfare policy and occasionally we do also. But our main focus is on the Culture War. Will America return to the culture that made it great, our traditional, Judeo-Christian, Western culture? Or will we continue the long slide into the cultural and moral decay of political correctness?"

Wouldn't really call them "Politically Neutral".
posted by aaronscool at 5:51 PM on September 17, 2002


Wouldn't really call them "Politically Neutral".

Well, um, good. Of course, you'll notice I didn't call them politically neutral either. In fact, they aren't - the whole point of my post was to demonstrate that if you want a highly politicized argument, either side can bring equal numbers of studies and statistics to the table.

This FPP, like too many here, did not start with a balanced article intended to initiate an intelligent, "politically neutral" discussion of an important issue. It began with a highly, and delibrately polarizing, one-sided view ... an op-ed piece written by a juducial nominee who was presented by a Democratic President, and chewed up by the Republicans running the process at the time. He is clearly personally pissed ... in much the same way as Robert Bork was (being a judicial nominee presented by a Republican President, and chewed up by the Democrats running the process at that time). Neither could be even remotely expected to be "politically neutral".

The FPP opening gambit then kicked off the discussion with the charming sentiment that this fellow's tirade is "... enough to make a Shrub hugger angry, isn't it?" This, then, is the environment in which you want to talk about political "neutrality"? The intent of the first post wasn't to have a substantive discussion, it was to start a flame war. It is virtually the definition of a "troll".

Too bad too, because the issue is somewhat serious, and there actually are a lot of intelligent articles (and even books) out there that genuinely seek to discover a solution. Virtually all of them are smart enough to understand that both Democrats and Republicans have played equal roles in bringing about the current situation.

Naturally, when it is a Republican running the White House, and Democrats running the Senate, the Republican will say the Democrats are obstructing nominees, and the Democrats will say they are exercising their Consitutional mandate to provide legitimate oversight. And naturally, when the roles are reversed, the positions taken by both parties are reversed.

The larger issue, however, is that the situation will not be resolved by anyone trying to claim that the blame rests with one party. In fact, it is exactly that sort of highly partisan rhetoric that has lead to the situation in the first place.

But if you want to take someone to task over "political neutrality", perhaps you ought to look to the first post that started the thread - not the 20th post - to identify the cause.
posted by MidasMulligan at 9:08 PM on September 17, 2002


Name calling: It's enough to assure another four years of a current President neither of us loves. But given juvenile left-of-center protesters, and George W. Bush, I'll take the later any day. Grow up.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:16 PM on September 17, 2002


While I agree with much of what you say about the process being tainted by politics from both sides (this is exactly my point). To be specific I am and have been responding to posts that seem to claim otherwise.

In the first case where mojohand stated, "Democrats have imposed rigid ideological purity tests, denying the Senate the chance to vote on very qualified judges " even if this statement were accurate would not the same statement hold true to the Republicans who held up the vast majority of Clinton nominees?

In the second case I responded to your statement and link, "The answer appears to be 'yes, more rigid'" which was filled with statistically slanted and carefully crafted data. You presented this information as some sort of factual evidence. I pointed out the facts it left out.
posted by aaronscool at 10:12 PM on September 17, 2002


In the second case I responded to your statement and link, "The answer appears to be 'yes, more rigid'" which was filled with statistically slanted and carefully crafted data. You presented this information as some sort of factual evidence. I pointed out the facts it left out.

I presented evidence both as factual, and as one-sided (evidence can be both) as everyone else was presenting.

You did not point out the facts that it "left out", you simply chose a different set of facts. Sure ... extend it from three years to five. Makes Republicans look much worse. Obviously ... because in the last five years, 3.5 saw a Democratic President and Republican Senate, and 1.5 saw the opposite. So naturally if both parties acted identically, the statistics will appear to show Republicans thwarting more candidates than Democrats (i.e., it is equally "statistically slanted and carefully crafted" ... why choose 5? Why not go back 10? In which case you'll be including the first two years of the Clinton Presidency, when he had a Democratic Senate, who gave his nominees a virtual rubber stamp. Why not go back 14 ... so we can see how Bush nominees were treated by a Democratic Senate?).

This was my point. you can choose any sort of sample set you wish, and come up with the stats to prove anything you want.

Doesn't solve the problem to do so. Makes it worse.
posted by MidasMulligan at 10:33 PM on September 17, 2002


The reason why I choose five years is for a number of reasons. First it's recent history (politics like fashion tends to change from decade to decade). Second we've had both periods of a Democratic President with a Republican Senate and a Republican President with a Democratic Senate.

If you'd like to be more specific how about the last year of the Clinton Administration with a Republican Senate and this past year with the Bush Administration and a Democratic Senate or even the last year of the Elder Bush's Administration with a Democratic Senate?

Judges approved in the Last Year of the Clinton Administration (Republican Senate): 39

Judges confirmed in the past year of the G. W. Bush Administration (Democratic Senate): 73

Judges confirmed in the Last Year of the Elder Bush Administration (Democratic Senate): 66

These are some pretty simple facts that in my mind speak for themselves.

Now if you want opinion, mine is that during the last 3 or so years of the Clinton administration the Republican Senate refused to have hearings much less bring to a vote the vast majority of Clinton Nominees. Surprisingly with the Democrats now in control of the Senate they have not appeared to carry on the same stalling and blocking tactics.
posted by aaronscool at 11:10 PM on September 17, 2002


Well, I could point out several different reasons why your simple "facts" are anything but simple, and seem designed to purposely lead to one conclusion rather than another. Interesting to see how you defined the time periods - Comparing, for instance, the last year of Clinton with first year of Bush would look considerably different - but you conveniently chose this last year (the Senate was dragging its feet during Bush's first year ... and it was made into a political issue by Bush - so in recent months it has started moving at a faster rate).

Interesting also that you'd choose the last year of the elder Bush's administration ... as it was during his first year that the Democrats set the modern record for the fewest confirmations in one year - with just 15. Oddly - they also hold the modern record for the most in one year - 101 in 1994 (naturally ... these were Clinton's).

So far as the "vast majority" of Clinton nominees not getting a vote, for instance, the bigger picture is that during Clinton's 8 years, the Senate confirmed 377 nominees (five short of the record 382 confirmed during the Reagan years). Clinton ended his Presidency with the Republicans refusing to confirm 41 pending judicial nominations. Of course, the elder Bush ended his Presidency with the Democrats refusing to confirm 55 pending judicial nominations.

Do these simple facts also "speak for themselves"?

Do you - or anyone else - actually think it is useful to trade endless statistics back and forth? Both parties are at fault. A solution will come when they both agree to solve the problem.
posted by MidasMulligan at 11:39 PM on September 17, 2002


Both parties are at fault.

And that ain't just whistling Dixie!

A solution will come when they both agree to solve the problem.

But I won't be holding my breath for that to happen....
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:54 AM on September 18, 2002


Speaking of political parties and politics in general, one must really appreciate transparent (simple-minded) politics when one sees it, viz: when out of power, attack one-sidedly; when in power, insist on balance and fairness.

Do you - or anyone else - actually think it is useful to trade endless statistics back and forth?

~chuckle...too much~

Well...then...uh...we must all be thankful for all the, uh, usefulness above...

And as we say to the Republicans who now decry any judicial "litmus tests" now that their own nominees are suspected of a certain "baseness" -- we say also to those here who sob openly for "political neutrality": we thank you for the example of your own well known "political neutrality", as espoused by your own unfailingly "neutral" postings in our beloved blue pages.

~guffaw~
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 1:36 AM on September 18, 2002


MidasMulligan:
"You did not point out the facts that it "left out", you simply chose a different set of facts. "

A different set of facts? Please do not mistake statistics for facts. As Mark Twain (or was it Samuel Clemens?) said "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics."

muta
"Whenever I read someone referring to President Bush as "Shrub" I immediately skip over whatever else they have to say, assuming that nothing insightful will make it through the desire to defame the man. I did the same thing from 1992-96 with President Clinton and the phrase "Slick Willie." The deficits of either man's character are easily proven without resorting to name calling."

After 8 years of Slick Willie I find it absolutely delightful to hear folks complain about less than flattering nicknames for Bush. I respect your admission that you did the same thing for 4 years. I am curious why you stopped in 1996 when there was still 4 more years of Clinton to slam?
posted by whatever at 1:50 AM on September 18, 2002


we say also to those here who sob openly for "political neutrality": we thank you for the example of your own well known "political neutrality", as espoused by your own unfailingly "neutral" postings in our beloved blue pages.

And you'll be hovering right around the top of that list, now won't you ....
posted by MidasMulligan at 7:11 AM on September 18, 2002


It wasn't that way in the first two years of Clinton's term, either - most folks don't remember that Clinton had an extraordinarily hard time getting his appointments - judicial and otherwise - past the Senate of his own party when he had the chance. (Remember Kimba Wood and Zoe Baird?) I wrote about this last December:

A President's nominations in the first two years generally receive great deference from the Senate, even for lifetime judicial positions. Every President since JFK has enjoyed 90% or better confirmation success in the first two years, with the sole exception of Gerald Ford - whose first two years were his last. Clinton, however, barely cleared that hurdle, scoring the second least of all Presidents since JFK for his first two years. Even Presidents facing opposing parties in the Senate, like Nixon and Bush, won about 92% of their judicial nominations. Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Reagan, whose parties controlled the Senate, enjoyed respective success rates of 98.9%, 96.7% and 97.8% for the two years after their elections. Clinton was a dismal failure by comparison.

But it gets worse for Clinton. Look to Table 4 of the Courts Initiative Report. Not only did the Democrats reject a higher percentage of Clinton's first nominations, it also took far longer to act on them in general. Reagan's Republican Senate took 33 days to confirm and 10 to reject, and Carter's Democratic Senate took 38 days to confirm and 35 to reject. But Clinton faced the 103rd Senate, controlled by Democrats, which took an extraordinary 81 days on average to confirm his nominations, and a whopping 102 days to reject them.


The fact is, Clinton made lousy nominations that he couldn't even fool his own party into corfiming a high percentage of the time. The Senate Democrats who embraced the "three judges a week" standard when they were in the minority never held themselves to that standard when they were in a position to do anything about it. So despite the author's bitter grapes about his own judicial nomination, the problem wasn't with the Republican Senate.
posted by mikewas at 7:30 AM on September 18, 2002


A bit of history with regard to the nickname "shrub"; given that George W. Bush named HIS OWN OIL COMPANY "Arbusto" Energy, Inc. (arbusto is spanish for "shrub"), why not use "shrub" to refer to George W? It seems likely (to me at least) that the "shrub"/"bush" thing was an inside joke in the Bush clan.

George Bush (W's father) actually SERVED in the US military as a fighter pilot (and was shot down over the pacific). He then proceeded to climb the ladder of power the normal way, through a career in the US intelligence establishment. He had many friends in high places, yes, but he must have had considerable innate skill, drive, whatever. After George W's grandfather (George Bush's father) Prescott Bush was implicated during WW2 in the financial scandal of running a bank which served as a front for Nazi financial interests, stock in the Bush family name was down. Way down. So George Bush's decision to join the Air Force in WW2 was, most likely, heavily influenced by a need to redeem the Bush family name.

In this task, George Bush exceeded all expectations and became the 41st president.

George W. Bush, by contrast, was anything but a "self made" man. His business career prior to the Texas Rangers baseball franchise involved a string of failed oil businesses which were bailed out or bought up by financial interests looking to win influence with the presidential administration of W's father. W followed in his father's footsteps in form, if not in substance, when he succesfully avoided the Vietnam War by "serving" in the Texas Air National Guard as a fighter pilot --however, while W's father actually FOUGHT in a war, W's "service" involved, at one point, a year long dereliction of duty. Trace the history of George W's ascendance to power; it's hard to ignore the fact that he rode to power on his father's coattails, rather than on his innate ability. So why not "shrub" ?
posted by troutfishing at 8:54 AM on September 18, 2002


Thank you, troutfishing. I was sorely tempted to tell the 'pwease don't insult our Mr Pwesident-man' folks to shut the hell up, but you've laid it out it in such a way that they might actually do so.

Well done, sir.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:29 PM on September 18, 2002


OK. I apologize. If troutfishing is correct, using Shrub is not so juvenile, or juvenile at all. Sorry.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:02 PM on September 18, 2002


YEAH! Not only is "Shrub" really quite profoundly funny (especially when you consider the whole Spanish deal), "Shrub-hugger" is just plain witty regardless of what party you're from. The sad part is having to explain it.
posted by DenOfSizer at 12:26 PM on September 19, 2002


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