Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Reid to vote "no" on Roberts

   WaPo reports that Senator Harry Ried will vote against the confirmation of John Roberts, citing Roberts's reluctance to answer the Senate Democrats' ridiculous questions.

Reid is just asking for trouble any way you cut it. After Roberts made the senators look like exasperated nitwit over the course of four days and barring a major calamity, Reid just can not come out ahead on this one.

He told members of his caucus to vote their consciences and that suggested that Roberts was not worth filibustering. So, there go the Democratic members of the Gang of 14, in all probability. That's a minimum of 63 aye votes.

So, not counting himself, Reid now has to see where the other 46 votes fall and herein lies his problem.

As I noted earlier, a grand show of futile opposition to Roberts on the implicit ground that he won't pass Chuck Schumer's litmus test and that he won't pre-judge cases, but certainly not in a way that promotes the Dems' policy preferences, can only hurt the party next year as it tries to take back the Senate. Every newly energized member of the Democratic base will be counterbalanced by a disaffected independent voter. Given the current Bush approval ratings, they have a pretty good shot at it; do they want to lose a few critical votes from voters in swing states?

By the way of example, my mother, the only true swing voter in my swing state family (yes, we do tease her about it), has already had enough of stonewalling. Her articulation of the word "Democrats" in a tone that straddles exasperation and foreboding has been my fair barometer that something the party is doing could be playing a lot better among independents in Michigan. [Yes, I know it's a small sample set and lacks representation; I'll chalk it up to coincidence once it's proven wrong.]

Worse yet for Reid, though, is if Roberts picks up 30 or more Senate Democrats. I have no delusions that Ted Kennedy will vote "yea," but Dianne Feinstein seemed to waver a little during the hearing, so she might. In any event, if a significant majority of Democrats vote to confirm Roberts, then Harry Reid will appear an even weaker leader than he already is.

I doubt he -- or his party -- want that within a year of the election. While Schumer is charged with planning the campaign, Reid is its most prominent face. I doubt he wants it at all blemished when opportunity is so close at hand.

But, then, why would I complain about this series of missteps.

Forget I said anything at all.

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