Monday, September 17, 2007

The Opinionator

September 17, 2007, 5:37 pm
Tough Talk on Iran (in French)
By Tobin Harshaw
Tags: ,

Ah, what must we Americans do to tamp down raging French bellicosity?

The world should ‘prepare for war’ with Iran, the French foreign minister has said, significantly escalating tensions over the country’s nuclear program,” reports The Telegraph of London, “Bernard Kouchner said that while ‘we must negotiate right to the end’ with Iran, if Teheran possessed an atomic weapon it would represent ‘a real danger for the whole world.’ ”

The Dutch blogger Michael van der Galiën is pleased:

One gets the impression that France is finding its old imperial soul back. No, I don’t favor Europe colonizing the world once again, but I do favor a strong and active Europe. We have lived too long in our Kantian paradise, pretending that the entire world is like us. The Americans understand much better that while Europe may live in its Kantian paradise, the world still lives according to the Hobbesian law: it’s all about power. Power is not something to be feared, but to be [pursued] and used.

Blake Hounshell at Foreign Policy magazine’s Passport blog, however, thinks the top man at the Pentagon, Robert Gates, may supply a calming influence. He writes:

I think we know what side of the burgeoning “bomb Iran” discussion Bob Gates is on. Speaking with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, who asked about comments by Gen. David Petraeus about Iranian Revolutionary Guards bases thought to be supplying arms to Shiite militants in Iraq, the U.S. secretary of defense indicated that diplomacy remains the Bush administration’s preferred approach to the Islamic Republic.

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September 17, 2007, 2:06 pm
Oh, That Michael Mukasey
By Tobin Harshaw
Tags: , ,

Have we had a senatorial change of heart? Ed Morrissey at Captain’s Quarters cites a New York Sun article reporting that Senator Chuck Schumer, head of the judiciary committee, may not support attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey. “Schumer, who had openly championed Mukasey as a ‘consensus candidate’ to replace Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General,” Morissey writes, “suddenly appears unsure.” He continues:

Just two years ago, Schumer pushed Mukasey as a contender for the William Rehnquist seat on the Supreme Court. The liberal group Alliance for Justice joined him in endorsing Mukasey as an alternative to John Roberts …. Bush has managed to strip Schumer of his last pretenses of fairness and honesty, and the Alliance for Justice may be next. Uncle Chuck couldn’t give a fig for “consensus.” He used Mukasey as a club to beat Bush two years ago… Schumer just had his bluff called, and one can expect that the confirmation hearings will feature several Republican committee members read into the record over and over again Schumer’s endorsement of Mukasey for the lifetime appointment.

Jeralynn Merritt at TalkLeft is also bemused:

What’s up with Sen. Charles Schumer? First he touts Mukasey to Bush for both the Supreme Court and the Attorney General’s position, and now he’s promising a tough confirmation hearing and saying Judge Mukasey only has ‘potential’ to be a consensus nominee? … Maybe he should have ascertained the Judge’s positions on these issues before he recommended him for the job.

Merritt may be a proud liberal, but she seems satisfied by the White House choice: “[A]nyone Bush picks for A.G. is going to be a conservative,” she points out. “Mukasey has bucked the government in several cases, and I’ve found nothing to suggest he will be the administration’s water boy. Mukasey is a far better pick than Ted Olson or, for that matter, a career prosecutor who grew up under Ashcroft and Gonzales.”

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September 17, 2007, 9:21 am
Judging Mukasey
By Tobin Harshaw
Tags: ,

After much speculation that conservative hero and liberal bete noir Ted Olson would be tabbed to replace Alberto Gonzales as attorney general, it seems the Bush administration has chosen a nominee with a far lower profile: Michael B. Mukasey, a former federal judge from New York who has presided over several high-profile terrorism trials.

Deven Desai, an assistant professor at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, notes that “Judge Mukasey has a curious background.” Writing at Concurring Opinions, Desai continues:

He was a federal prosecutor with Rudy Giuliani and has ties to his campaign, served 19 years on the federal bench, and according to some interviewed by the Washington Post, is not well-known or likely to be favored among conservatives. Perhaps his rejection of the claim that Jose Padilla could be held indefinitely as an enemy combatant, which resulted in the case being transferred to South Carolina, upset some folks. Still as the Post notes, William Kristol of the Weekly Standard has written an editorial defending the choice.

Kristol suggests that even though Judge Mukasey denied the government’s motion in Padilla’s case he will be acceptable to conservatives. …

I can’t say I know enough about the man at this point. As Kristol posited, the right may be choosing someone who will not be challenged (Sen. Schumer of New York seems to like the choice) and do little harm from the right’s view in the year and a quarter left in this administration’s term.

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