Chief Justice Roberts confirmation and the 2008 election

What’s interesting about this vote is not the (unanimous) Republican vote, but the even split on the Democrat side: 22 voted no. I have been reading that the reason for the no votes was political/presidential aspirations. Firstly, if that many have such ambitions, the Democrat party is in even more trouble than I’ve blasted them for! 😀 So out of curiousity, I’m running through this list and finding the most recent newsbit online about each…
(this is long).
Akaka (HI)

Akaka Bill. As far as I can tell, this is a tangled mess of Hawaiian independence, to the point where I’m not sure which group, the pro or anti Akaka bill folks, want to withdraw (under the argument they were not properly admitted/annexed in the first place, hence not a seccession). The Akaka bill seems to be (S.147) a bill to reorganize Native Hawaiians under the same sort of setup that Native Americans on the mainland have. Hard to spot any presidential ambitions here.

Bayh (IN)

This one’s mentioned as a presidential aspirant in a couple places (CounterPunch, NY Sun, and others). He seems to have a hodgepodge of stuff out — anti counterfeiting, anti price-gouging, anti dumping (note, all these are from the same source, Inside Indiana Business). Most local editorial commentary (like this one depict him as a fairly opportunistic Republican in Democrat-clothing who is actually behaving like a Democrat, for now at least. Hmmm.

Biden (DE)

Oh yeah. ‘Nuff said. He’s still trying? is my main reaction. Hopeless. No new ideas, no leadership qualities.

Boxer (CA)

OK, first of all I like anyone who calls Condi a liar. Anyway, I don’t know if she has 2008 political ambitions. She’s certainly young enough to be considering elections after 2008, of course. Now, she has all kinds of good stuff, including disaster prep on her web site. Heck, I think she’s potentially the strongest of the bunch, but I don’t think she has her hat in the 2008 arena.

Cantwell (WA)

Hmmm…junior senator from Washington. She seems pretty predictably Democrat. Someone to keep an eye on, maybe, but not in 2008.

Clinton (NY)

Well, yeah.

Corzine (NJ)

Hmm…federal bills on regulating chemical plants, also introduced ASPIRE/KIDS programs to create investment accounts for every newborn/encourage parents to set aside savings for each child. Working against privatization of SS. Ooh, promoting privacy for financial account holders. Standard support troops shtick, would have to read on what exactly that was. (OTOH, the republicans are doing a good job of gutting military benefits — have you checked lately what some of those cuts include? So if Corzine is opposed to that kind of thing…)

Dayton (MN)

Understandably occupied with hurricane related issues at the moment. Some interesting involvement over the 9-11 commission report.

Durbin (IL)

Now, this guy’s interesting. He’s the one who described conditions in Guantanamo on the Senate floor and drew quite a bit of controversy. I like seeing this kind of courage. Although the apology afterwards seems to have been ill considered, it may not have been what people thought it was. Looks like he’s involved in various things at the moment: katrina relief, FDA conflict-of-interest investigation, meeting with Sheehan. I can’t find any rumblings of preparing for presidential campaigns.

Feinstein (CA)

OK, this one’s from my state. I’ve not heard of any move on her part for the 2008 elections. Later ones? I don’t know. She’d do well to run for governor here first, but has declined to do so. I think she may well prefer to sit in her senate seat for a while yet. She has a tendency to take what I think are good positions, but to insert foot-in-mouth all to often. Current news snippets are all over her for her “touchy feely” comments in the Roberts hearings, though to be fair I think I know what she was trying to get at — how does the man think?? (I guess we’ll be finding out, now.) But what bugs me more than anything else about her is how pro-business and pro-wealth she is — she’s very consistent on voting for pro-military, pro-BigGovernment, etc. In the post 9/11 fervor, she went on record in 2002 as supporting racial profiling: Consider Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) comments Sunday that to prevent terrorism “one isn’t going to look for blond Norwegians” and that “the racial profiling debate has [had] … a chilling impact” on the FBI.. I have no idea why such a republican in sheep’s clothing is so often on a shortlist for presidential candidates, and I can only be relieved she doesn’t seem to place herself on that list. OK, that was something of a digression…

Harkin (IA)

He’s got a pretty standard array of liberal issues he’s working on. There’s an overly long list of religious based charities on his katrina stuff. I do commend him for pushing on the avian flu preparations. Oh! He was a lead sponsor of the ADA! OK, now I’m in love… His statement about the Roberts nomination is a good read.

Inouye (HI)

OK, initial snipe — his official web page is uninformative almost to the point of absurdity, and the interface seems designed to display as little as possible at any given time. The worst part is when you go to accomplishments and you get a little search form — no overview, nothing. Don’t design web pages like that. Public officials have to go the informative route… I did spot a paragraph giving more info on the S.147 controversy:

Inouye and Hawaii’s three other elected members of Congress, are pushing for the Akaka Bill, which would give native Hawaiians more rights and privileges than native Americans or native Alaskans, and which Akaka himself says could lead to Hawaii seceding from the United States of America. Many Hawaiian groups are opposed because they don’t want anything to do with the federal government and say they are not Indians. Other Hawaiians do want the Akaka Bill because they believe it will protect from litigation native Hawaiian programs and privileges not afforded to non-Hawaiians.

Seems like most of his news are tangled up with the Akaka bill, as well. Damn, here I am in CA, and I hadn’t heard about this…

Kennedy (MA)

Oh, lord.

Kerry (MA)

Oh, please.

Lautenberg (NJ)

There’s a few bits and pieces, such as criticizing Rove’s fundraising, blocking Saudi Arabia from WTO and others.

Mikulski (MD)

Protecting state military bases. You can see where things go wrong with balancing budgets (this is not a demo slam). Every senator of any political party winds up trying to please their constitutents. What flies? Jobs and money. Hence this kind of stuff. There’s also the usual: demands to investigate price gouging, Interesting: she’s also a member of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee…

Obama (IL)

This guy’s interesting. I remember when he won his senate seat, there was considerable speculation about him. The honeymoon’s over, of course, but he seems to be a pretty centrist if not almost right leaning guy (the problem really is one of distinguishing between economically conservative/liberal and socially conservative/liberal — there’s no reason you can’t have all four combos (including one who is very socially liberal at the same time advocating reagan style economics; while such a combo would be a head-snapper in this country, it’s actually an excellent description of, say, the BNP party in Britain (look at their social agenda, whatever you might think of their other policies…).) Did I digress again? Anyway, I think Obama is potentially someone to watch, but futher down the road, not this time around. Right now he seems to be getting most of the fury vented at him over his basic support of the Iraq war, which could bite him big time down the years, the way Vietnam has polarized opinion even to this day…

Reed (RI)

Interesting background on this guy. There’s not much available on him, but he seems to be the Dem’s choice for military/security stuff, if you look here

Reid (NV)

Minority Senate Leader, so he gets lots of press. Ther’es an extensive overview of him available (actually this site profiles all the political figures out there as well). He comes in for his share of carping, although I’m dying with laughter over the indignation expressed here over what amounts to $500 — that’s right, five zero zero — donated to two different churches…which is somehow on par with DeLay’s finagling… He seems to have started up his own blog, the first congresscritter to do so? Could be interesting?

Sarbanes (MD)

Schumer (NY)

Stabenow (MI)

Notes:
Those underlined are current Democrat senators listed in Wiki as having indicated interest in the 2008 nomination. Feingold (WI) is also listed, but was among the 22 who voted for Roberts.

Those in red voted FOR the Iraqi war. The rest did not all necessarily vote no, since not all of them were senators at the time the vote was taken on the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq. I threw this one in out of sheer curiosity. (For completeness, Feingold voted no.)

Some of the tidbits about the lesser (to me anyway) known senators were interesting…I should stress none of these are comprehensive. They’re the general impressions given by googling on their names in general and in the news in particular. It’s not intended to be a “fair” representation, just a snapshot. One interesting site that kept popping up was Project Vote Smart. Interesting collection of info.

Conclusion:
Well, I don’t know about those claims. Of the five Democrat Senators who have actually taken serious steps to prepare for the 2008 election, four voted against Roberts, one voted for. What is possibly more interesting is that four voted for the Iraq war and one against. If the Iraq war becomes deeply unpopular, this could become an interesting issue for the candidates. I can’t see Roberts being a big issue, to be honest, because he can’t tilt the court any more right than Rhenquist did. He could be a Souter in hiding, but only time will tell. (O’Connor, now, replacing her with almost anyway is sure to tilt the court unless, again, a Souter is chosen.) The stuff I’ve been reading suggest the no votes are in response to heavy hitting lobbyists who are not interested in the pragmatics but in following their orders. Well…I hate lobbyists as well but…Hey as long as I’ve been digressing so much already, I’ve been reading A People’s History of the Supreme Court, and the Souter phenomenon seems to have been in place from the start…going either way. So who knows.

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