Jun 10, 2004
More on the Rift
Thus far in our coverage of the “GOP Schism” we have focused on two main issues: deficits and Abu Ghraib. But anybody with sense sees that both of these issues hinge on an underlying contrast between sheer, infinitely cynical political expediency on the one hand, and some semblance of sticking to principle and conscience on the other. Thus we get the long-rostered Team Tom DeLay vs. the desperately understaffed Team John McCain. But here’s an interesting specimen: Orrin Hatch. He’s an uber-Conservative, and certainly we find ourselves revolted by many of his positions, but in firmly denouncing the theft of 5,000 or so Democratic memos (“Memogate”), he made some serious enemies amongst the extreme right. Today the Hill tells us that Hatch is firing back:Some conservatives have focused their criticism on what they allege is Hatch’s favoritism toward Thomas Griffith, a longtime acquaintance and fellow Utah Mormon whom President Bush has nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
“There isn’t one judge on our list that I haven’t spilled blood over, and I really resent the sideline second-guessers who have no idea what’s going on and who launch personal attacks without talking to me,” said Hatch.
Hatch’s defense is bolstered by the Republicans’ impressive record of confirming judges during Bush’s administration.
A review of the record showed that the Senate has confirmed 180 judicial nominees since Bush took office, more nominees than any other comparable period in Senate history.
Hatch is especially strong in his replies to those who criticize his handling of Griffith’s nomination.
“I think it’s anti-Mormon prejudice raising its ugly head again,” said Hatch, referring to criticisms of his focus on Griffith. “I’ve dealt with that my entire life and during my time in the Senate as well.”
Hatch said that Griffith deserves to be a priority because the D.C. circuit is such an important court. It hears hundreds of cases that affect all Americans — cases the Supreme Court never has a chance to review.
Hatch said: “Those who don’t understand how important it is to fill a seat on the D.C. circuit are absolute raving idiots. If Griffith doesn’t make it, it’s because of idiots who can’t think past the end of their nose.”
Now things start to get a bit awkward here, because Hatch has spent the last three years screaming right along side the rest of them that Democratic “obstructionists” (this is the central charge against Daschle) have not allowed any Bush judges to get through, and now Hatch is relying on the opposite (and true) argument to bolster his case. And giving Hatch credit for his handling of Memogate might also be premature, since we don’t know if he was just trying to shut it down before it got to the White House. But these extremists really are a callous, morally bankrupt bunch, and it seems like having the White House at their fingertips has gotten them drunk with power- just the ticket to put them on Team DeLay. But what of Hatch? As things get worse and Team DeLay is forced to defend more and more abhorrent facts, will there be an outright public split between the Senate and the House? And with this extremist coup attempt, how will the Senate feel about the fact that DeLay and Thomas are bringing a bill to the floor specifically to further their direct influence over this election?
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