The different tone on display on Capitol Hill on Monday - and what it suggests for the hearings that are expected to dominate Washington this week - stood as evidence to just how much the political atmosphere has changed since the Judiciary Committee approved Chief Justice Roberts's nomination 13 to 5.
President Bush has lost some political power, and he had to withdraw his previous nominee for this vacancy, Harriet E. Miers, the White House counsel, in the face of widespread criticism from his party's conservative wing.
Congressional Republicans are grappling with ideological divisions and a power struggle in the House after the resignation of Representative Tom DeLay of Texas as majority leader. And they are increasingly worried about the coming midterm elections: ...
It probably did not help the White House that this hearing began as the administration defended a program of domestic surveillance that has been challenged as illegal by many Democrats and some Republicans. ...
Even in the course of Monday's swift-paced hearings, Democrats were ticking off at a dizzying pace issues they intended to press, suggesting that they expected to have a much easier time pinning down Judge Alito than they did Chief Justice Roberts. [Emph. added]
Look out, Sam! ... Two days later, does this passage seem eerily prescient or embarrassingly, cocooningly, wrong? ... In a more sophisticated analysis, John McIntyre of RealClearPolitics, in an item titled "Are Senate Democrats Giving Alito A Pass?" argues that Dem hopes of beating the Republicans in the midterms are operating to lower the partisan pressure on Alito, not raise it:
What is interesting is when you look at the liberal blogs and what they are talking about, the energy is clearly not on Alito, and that should tell you a lot. I think the left-wing blogosphere is coalescing around the idea Bush and the Republicans are toast based on Abramoff, Iraq and the President's spying on the American people. They correctly have determined that Alito is a losing battle for them and they are moving on. And I wonder if that is what we are seeing with Senate Democrats as well.
P.S.: For how a much better, un-cocooned reporter covered the same topic --contrasting the Roberts and Alito nominations, but without Nagourney's underlying drumbeat of imagined Democratic victory--see this Brownstein piece.
**--Correction: Text originally said "you'd think Alito was in big trouble," which was an exaggeration. 1:36 A.M. link
I don't have a dog in the Roggio vs. WaPo fight. But I do have a brother! He's written a non-vituperative, lawyerly, almost Alito-like item taking WaPo's side. ... P.S.: Read the Update before you rip him to shreds. ... Tomorrow, kf on the Northern Marianas! WaPo pays me for this blog. And here I am linking to a pro-WaPo item. Did Jack Abramoff ever get results like that? 4:15 P.M. link
I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, but why are we assuming that the avian flu will mutate (or not mutate) into a global pandemic naturally? If you were a sophisticated Middle Eastern terrorist wouldn't you already be isolating the virus and trying to produce mutations in a lab? If you were an unsophisticated Middle Eastern terrorist who commanded a few dozen cadres willing to die as suicide bombers, wouldn't you instead a) give them the regular old flu and b) expose them to the avian flu germ and c) send them off to the Western world's busiest airports to just walk around and sneeze? Since the threat of a deadly hybrid comes when people get both the regular and avian flu at the same time, the result might be millions and millions of dead infidels. No bombs would be necessary. Nothing even obviously illegal. Just a bunch of people flying around, breathing. ... Of course, it's not as if a source of diseased birds is readily available in a nearby country like Turkey ... Oh, wait. ... P.S.: If not Islamic terrorists, then some other kind of terrorists. Cf., Twelve Monkeys. ... 3:41 P.M. link
Alex Beam on the conspiracy to rehab Doris Kearns Goodwin:
Although many fair-minded people see Goodwin as an inadvertent copier at best, I see a different pattern: an understandable reluctance to talk about the settlement paid to author Lynne McTaggart for "borrowing" from her work. A lack of contrition. The assertion that, of her work, only "The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys" had attribution problems. Then when the Los Angeles Times demonstrated similar problems with Goodwin's Franklin Roosevelt book, "No Ordinary Time," her lawyer angrily accused the paper of practicing "junk journalism."