Did Bush Derail Nuclear Option?
Dick Morris, who’s generally annoying but usually a shrewd political analyst, spins a rather implausible tale of President Bush talking the Senate GOP leadership out of invoking the so-called “nuclear option” to require an up-or-down vote on his judicial nominees.
Why would he do such a thing?
President Bush and Karl Rove probably figured that they did not want the power to appoint judges without opposition from the Senate Democrats. They realized that without the filibuster there was nothing to stop them from nominating judges who would cling to a hard right-wing agenda on Roe v. Wade and other issues, permanently alienating much of the country and driving a stake into GOP efforts to reach out to independents and women.
Bush needs the filibuster so that he can nominate judges who will not drive a wedge into the politics of America. He needs an excuse to tell his far-right friends why he is not naming a new Clarence Thomas or William Rehnquist or Antonin Scalia to the court. Bush grasps that such an appointment would be a step that would shatter the unity he is achieving after his reelection. And he needs the filibuster to keep the loyalty of his base even as he disappoints their most earnest expectations.
Look, I’m a bigger fan of President Bush than most. I think he’s brighter than he’s given credit for and even think he’s mostly motivated by what he geniunely thinks is good for the country. But there’s no such thing as a president who is going to expend political capital for the express purpose of ensuring that his own power is limited.
Further, left to his druthers, Bush would very much love to appoint a Scalia-type as chief. Unlike his father, Bush II is very much a true believer. He doesn’t need an excuse to cover shafting his core supporters.