Michael Mukasey

Word is that President Bush will nominate former federal Judge Michael Mukasey to be the next Attorney General. The consensus of other leftie bloggers: It could be worse. See in particular Glenn Greenwald, Neil the Ethical Werewolf and Jeralyn Merritt. What little reaction I’ve seen from rightie bloggers suggests acceptance, if not enthusiasm.

Mark Tran at The Guardian:

Mr Mukasey’s nomination will be seen as evidence of Mr Bush’s political weakness as his presidency enters its final stretch. Some conservatives have already expressed unhappiness with the choice.

Mr Olson had appeared to be the leading contender for the job.

“There is a case for nominating Olson, and inviting a senate confirmation fight over issues of legal philosophy and executive power,” Mr Kristol wrote in a column posted on the internet soon after he learned that Mr Mukasey was Mr Bush’s likely pick.

However, Kristol approved Mukasey.

The most contentious fights over the next year are likely to be on war-on-terror issues. And as Andrew McCarthy (no liberal softy on such matters!) explained on National Review Online, Mukasey is first-rate on these: “He deftly handled the enemy-combatant detention of Jose Padilla (recently convicted of terrorism crimes), forcefully endorsing the executive branch’s wartime power to protect the United States from an al Qaeda operative dispatched to our homeland to conduct mass-murder attacks, but vindicating the American citizen’s constitutional rights to counsel and to challenge his detention without trial through habeas corpus.” Judging also by what Mukasey has written and said outside the courtroom about the Patriot Act and related matters, we can be confident he’ll be effective at making the case before Congress and the public for tough legislation and sound policies on national security issues.

Yet Glenn Greenwald said,

I want to highlight one extremely relevant consideration concerning Judge Mukasey — the impressive role he played in presiding over the Jose Padilla case in its earliest stages. After Padilla was first detained in April 2002 and declared an “enemy combatant,” he was held incommunicado, denied all access to the outside the world, including counsel, and the Bush administration refused to charge him with any crimes. A lawsuit was filed on Padilla’s behalf by a New York criminal defense lawyer, Donna Newman, demanding that Padilla be accorded the right to petition for habeas corpus and that, first, he be allowed access to a lawyer. That lawsuit was assigned to Judge Mukasey, which almost certainly made the Bush DOJ happy.

But any such happiness proved to be unwarranted. Judge Mukasey repeatedly defied the demands of the Bush administration, ruled against them, excoriated them on multiple occasions for failing to comply with his legally issued orders, and ruled that Padilla was entitled to contest the factual claims of the government and to have access to lawyers. He issued these rulings in 2002 and 2003, when virtually nobody was defying the Bush administration on anything, let alone on assertions of executive power to combat the Terrorists. And he made these rulings in the face of what was became the standard Bush claim that unless there was complete acquiescence to all claimed powers by the President, a Terrorist attack would occur and the blood would be on the hands of those who impeded the President.

Mukasey is a conservative judge who supported the Patriot Act and is a legal advisor to Rudy Giuliani. But it could be worse.

Update: Sen. Chuck Schumer floated Mukasey’s name as a Supreme Court appointment awhile back, no doubt thinking that a conservative capable of independence from the White House was preferable to a conservative not so independent from the White House, e.g. Alito and Roberts. And yesterday Schumer said,

In a statement issued last night, the senator was somewhat guarded. “For sure we’d want to ascertain his approach on such important and sensitive issues as wiretapping and the appointment of US attorneys, but he’s a lot better than some of the other names mentioned and he has the potential to become a consensus nominee,” the statement said.

Somehow, in Captain Ed’s mind, Schumer has flip-flopped.

Bush has managed to strip Schumer of his last pretenses of fairness and honesty, and the Alliance for Justice may be next. Uncle Chuck couldn’t give a fig for “consensus”. He used Mukasey as a club to beat Bush two years ago, and Nan Aron of AJ jumped on the bandwagon. Schumer just had his bluff called, and one can expect that the confirmation hearings will feature several Republican committee members read into the record over and over again Schumer’s endorsement of Mukasey for the lifetime appointment.

Schumer will provide us a prime-time example of eating one’s words. He misunderestimated George Bush again.

Seems to me Schumer pushed Mukasey as an “it could be worse” Supreme Court appointment, and no doubt he will vote to approve Mukasey AG in the same light. But expect to see the Right Blogosphere work itself into a frenzy over Schumer’s “flip flop” for the next couple of days. The VRWC is pushing this to distract its Kool-Aid soaked followers from their disappointment that Ted Olsen didn’t get the appointment.

Update 2: Today’s WTF? Non Sequitur Award goes to this blogger, who looks at the reaction to the Mukasey nomination and concludes

What this exposes is the current governing dynamic in the United States among the political left — if Bush is for it, then they are against it, period. The obsession with “getting” George W. Bush has already taken over policy-making (witness the refusal among most Democrats to even consider the possibility of military progress in Iraq — even with lots of room for legitimate criticism in non-military areas, Democratic leaders are insisting on a pure “nothing but bad news” narrative) and is now moving into cabinet appointments.

What this exposes is the current ideological dynamic within the political Right — if the Left is for it, the Right has to be against it, so if the Left is mildly ambivalent this somehow must be whipped up into a controversy anyway, because the raison d’être of the Right is bashing the Left. Ultimately, to them nothing else matters.

12 thoughts on “Michael Mukasey

  1. lol – thanks for awarding my co-blogger with the WTF non-sequitor award. Do we get a flashy logo? 😉

  2. Considering the pernicious ulterior motives behind almost every action Bush has taken since assuming the presidency, I find the attitude of “If Bush is for it, I’m against it” to be a perfectly rational one.

  3. Well, putting the ideological dynamic aside, it does seem to be true that everything Bush touches either is tainted, poisoned, or turns to shit. Bush has turned the Justice Dept into a cesspool of lackeys and it will be hard for anyone to get near it without absorbing some of the stench.

  4. So is it out of line to look at an individuals past successes/failures and apply that record when considering how he will do in future? Don’t think so. It’s safe to assume that Bush’s nominee for AG will prove a disastrous choice.

    And, when Pelosi took impeachment ‘off the table’ she at the same time gave Bush the green light, removing the threat that may have deterred him in his drive to nullify the Constitution, bankrupt the treasury, and build his Empire of One.

  5. The fact that William Kristol approves of the guy worries me. Kristol’s defining characteristic is being wrong. He has been wrong about every single thing of any importance that he has ever done or said in public life.

    At this point, if Kristol wrote a column explaining that the sky is blue, I’d seriously have to go check.

    And, huge odds are, the sky would be grey when I checked.


  6. Ian:

    I know what you mean. Kristol is the Klink of his generation

    This theme of “what Bush is for the Left is against” has been around since 2000 and it get trumpted on just about every issue by the GOP base. There may have been more validity back in the day but six and a half years later has rendered the point moot.

  7. My understanding is that the acting AG is another corrupt wingnut. This makes the reasoning behind the Mukasey nomination clear: put pressure on the Dems to confirm Mukasey quickly and quietly so that they can get the corrupt wingnut out. Remember, there’s always a malign intention at work in everything these guys do.

  8. Allthough normally it would be a pretty good rule of thumb that anything that Bush is for, must be bad, many of the commenters are failing to see the forest for the trees. MUKASEY WAS NOT BUSH’S FIRST CHOICE. His first choice, Olsen, was in fact DOA. Bye bye.
    No, Mukasay was Schumer’s choice, and Bush had to compromise. Despite what some lefties appear to believe, Schumer is not Bush.
    When have you seen this happen to a Bush appointee? When have you known Bush to compromise on anything? Not until pretty recently. Why? Because BUSH IS LOSING POWER. Have you not noticed that the wheels have gradually been coming off the Bush machine for the last eight months? No, probably not. Why? Because you’re too busy blaming the Democrats for not doing anything. But, uh, THIS IS WHAT THE DEMOCRATS — AT LEAST MOST DEMOCRATS — HAVE BEEN DOING. Rove: bye bye. Gonzalez: bye bye. Lots of other little sh-ts, bye bye. Don’t get me wrong, this country is still in a very bad way, not only about Iraq, but most notably regarding this insane warmongering on Iran. But this was always part of their plan, to destabilize the entire Middle East, and what we’re seeing now is sheer desperation. You guys are so fixated on how evil these guys are (and they are), you haven’t noticed that there is a fight going on — and Bush/Cheney are not winning it.

  9. You guys are so fixated on how evil these guys are (and they are), you haven’t noticed that there is a fight going on — and Bush/Cheney are not winning it.

    You’re right about being aware of how evil these guys are, although I must confess, that after first realizing this some years ago, I’m used to being pretty numb to it by now. I’m very aware that the rats have been fleeing their particular ship for some time, at least since Nov 2006. My own mental state is somewhat like the bumpersticker, “Wake me in 2008”.

    It’s of much less concern to me whether Bush/Cheney are winning – they clearly aren’t – than is the question of how much more damage can they do until they and their kind can be booted out (World War III, anyone?). And then, who gets to clean up after them, who is most able to manage the collossal mess they’ve created.

    IOW, while trying to keep a boot on their necks so they cannot inflict any more damage, I’m well past Bush/Cheney, and am looking for a competent cleanup crew to come in and rescue this country.

    As for the righties who think the left is reflexively against anything/anyone Bush proposes: 1) Bush et al. have proven themselves over and over to be the most self-serving bunch of highly positioned criminals this country has ever seen, and we therefore have good reason, based on a long history, to question any move these people make. That said, 2) it ain’t that simple.

    Unlike the right, most of us on the left usually think things through a bit more, we generally try to look beneath the surface of things (unlike so many on the right, and I can give you countless examples). We’re not the cartoons you on the right think us to be. This is why we don’t fall for the stupid, tiresome lies you on the right have been sucking down for years, lies that have become ever more evident with each passing day. All I can say, is that I knew in 2002, that the Iraq war was based on lies – and I, and many others on the left were proven right. How about you?

  10. I think the Dems should be pushing very strongly to have one of the purged attorneys nominated to replace Quaint & Obsolete. They could frame it as poetic justice. Paul Charlton, Carol Lam, David Iglesias etc. are all staunch Republicans respected by Dems for their independence and integrity (unlike Mukasey who is an unknown quantity and has been accused of corruption in a lawsuit: http://www.nmmng.co.uk/46ef01f7 ) The Dems should demand one of the eight be nominated, e.g. Paul Charlton, and saturate the airwaves with this simple call for justice and amends. If the regime refuses, the Dems should very graciously back down and suggest David Iglesias instead. And so on until one of the eight is nominated. Then confirm him or her and let the real corruption investigations begin! Mu-ha-ha-ha-ha!

  11. No More Mr. Nice Guy….That’s a great idea. It would be an assurance that we wouldn’t be getting a kiss ass monkey that dances to Bush’s tune, or some kind of partisan hack. The fired AG’s got the boot because their allegiance was to justice, and the faithful execution of the law.

    Gee, I wonder why Regent University didn’t proffer any AG candidates for Bush’s consideration? Maybe Monica Goodling might be a good candidate seeing how she meets the adminisration criteria for a sound AG..“Oh, I didn’t mean to piss all over American ideals, but Jesus forgives me”

  12. All the ‘experts’ last week were saying that Bush would put up a conservative and demand the ‘up or down’ vote. He would not do anything to cave in to the Democrats, particularly after they got Gonzo. And Bush nominates a moderate who defied the administration over Padilla. What Bush did was smart politics, and he’s never shown any aptitude for smart politics (smart PR yes, but that’s different) SO who is calling the shots at the White House? Bush is a mouthpiece and projection; he can’t string words together to make a sentence. Rove is gone; Cheney would never compromise. So who’s behind the curtain?

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