Quick Reaction to Rheqnuist death
Rest in peace, Big Guy. You done good.
Now, on to the political battle. Michelle Malkin cites a blogger The Spoon Experience who thinks Bush doesn't have the political capital to fight for a good pick and, paradoxically, it is essential that he make a pick because Katrina increases the chances the Republicans will loose in 08.
Both observations are quite wrong.
The first observation is still stuck in the 80's and 90's nomination politics where there was no majority of Republicans in the Senate. There is currently a solid majority in the Senate. To be blunt about, Bush's popularlity could decline to LBJ levels and it wouldn't matter a whit...because he has the votes. As, indeed, LBJ did when he had both anemic approval ratings and nominations to the Court (as I noted here). This didn't prevent LBJ from getting liberals on the court. Barring a scandal, there is almost no credible nominee to the Bench that Bush could propose that would be defeated on the floor. Since any filibuster of a Supreme Court candidate is most likely to result in a successful procedural move to end judicial filibusters, Democratic Senators employing backwards deduction should refrain from filibustering almost any Bush nominee. Hence, Bush should have near plenary power to get a nominee of his choosing. Of course, the Roberts nomination illustrated some path dependence in the Bush strategy (left over from the Republican congressional minority days)...so the Bushies may not have a good grasp of this. But it *is* true.
It may not be true after the 06' elections, where the Republican majority may shrink (or disappear altogether). So, contrary to the many voices that have suggested this is 'bad timming'...not to be gauche...but the timming is good.
The second observation isn't old fashioned, but it is myopic. I have little doubt that Katrina will play a significant roll in the LA and MS local and state elections in 06'. It *may* play some national roll in the off-year elections...but I highly doubt it. There is nearly zero chance that Katrina will play any roll in the 08' elections. Indeed, I doubt it will have much of a noticable effect on Bush's approval ratings 6 months from now (assuming the effects on gas prices have dissapated).