Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Hmmm ... if this is true, I guess we won't be seeing a weeping wife in the audience at the confirmation hearing:

The White House is closing in on a nominee to replace Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, with former Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson considered one of the leading candidates, administration and Congressional officials said Tuesday....

That "weeping wife" comment wasn't meant to be tasteless -- Olson, of course, did lose a spouse in one of the 9/11 planes, but he remarried last year.

My guess, though, is that the administration won't want you to realize that, and will see to it that the new wife stays home. I think the administration's plan for the confirmation hearings is precisely to make Barbara Olson's death the trump card -- and to tie her death and 9/11 to the very policies Alberto Gonzales was criticized for defending (which Ted Olson will, if confirmed, continue to defend). If I'm right, Bush is picking Olson not because Bush thinks Olson is the best person for the job, but precisely because Olson's very biography gives Bush the best opportunity to portray critics as enablers of pure evil.


If Olson is the pick, I imagine the Democrats will pursue the same lines of criticism -- Olson as Florida recount lawyer, Olson as participant in the Arkansas Project -- that failed to prevent his confirmation as solicitor general in 2001.

I'd try an additional line of attack: I'd ask whether a guy who's already deeply immersed in electoral politics for 2008 can be an impartial AG. Ted Olson has endorsed Rudy Giuliani for president, he's editorialized on Giuliani's behalf, and he's the chairman of Giuliani's "Justice Advisory Committee." I'd make the point that he wasn't just a grubby partisan hack in the distant past, he's a grubby partisan hack right now. He's openly acting as one GOP candidate's shill, but he's just going to segue effortlessly from that to being the nation's top law-enforcement officer? I don't think so.

But I think what's going to happen is that Democrats will bring up Florida and Olson will say "9/11." The Democrats will bring up the Arkansas Project and Olson will say "9/11." Message: All the Democrats can talk about is Before, not After. Well, Olson stint as Giuliani's flack is After. I think it's well worth bringing up.

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