Friday, September 9, 2005

Armageddon on Capitol Hill

John Hinderaker explains the challenge Bush faces in replacing Justice Rehnquist. The pressure on the Democrats from their left-wing base to fight a conservative will be enormous. Another conservative with as meager a paper trail and as easy to confirm as Judge Roberts will be hard to find. Almost anyone Bush picks, Hinderaker predicts, will launch the political equivalent of WW III.

Maybe so, but Bush may surprise the Dems with a nomination that would please the conservative rank and file while short-circuiting the Democratic attack machine. He could do this by nominating someone out of the Senate, like, say, Sam Brownback. Brownback is widely respected, unflinchingly conservative, and, being a senator, will be harder for Senate Dems to attack as savagely as they would someone from the outside.

Even so, there is so much at stake that almost any conservative is going to find him- or herself at the center of a firestorm. The left can live with Roberts as a replacement for Rehnquist, but they will not submit to a Scalia-type conservative as a replacement for O'Connor. Such an appointment could tip the court to the right for decades, undoing much of the mischief the left has accomplished since the sixties, and blocking most of what they have planned for the next twenty years. Hence, this next nomination, Hinderaker argues, will trigger an Armageddon on Capitol Hill.

We expect that Bush won't allow that to deter him from doing what he believes is right, but it may deter wobbly Republicans from supporting his nominee. It looks like it'll be gut-check time in the Senate once Roberts is confirmed.

See here for more possibilities from the Senate as well as several women and Hispanics whose nomination would delight conservatives.

The War Along the Rat Lines

The Fourth Rail's Bill Roggio continues to keep us updated on the war along the Syrian border towns which foreign fighters use as rat lines to infiltrate Iraq. The battle for Tal Afar is set to commence once the evacuation of the citizens is complete. It will not be a search and destroy mission but rather a "clear and hold" operation where the enemy is cleared out and Iraqi forces are left in place to keep them from returning. Insurgent leadership continues to suffer losses from targeted airstrikes which suggests that there is a lot of good intelligence coming from citizens on the ground.

Read Roggio's report for more information, and don't miss the analysis on Strategy Page of the effect that coalition pressure in this region is having on the insurgents' ability to find safe havens from which to mount operations.