Karl Rove, the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, opined in a Wall Street Journal Op-ed this week that President Barack Obama may have painted himself into a corner as the battle looms over retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter’s replacement.
“Mr. Obama will pay a price for voting against Mr. [John] Roberts and Samuel Alito after calling them ‘qualified’ and lauding their temperament, humility, excellence, passion for the law, and respect for precedent," Rove wrote.
“Both won confirmation with bipartisan support. By voting against well-qualified conservative nominees, Mr. Obama lost the ability to argue that a well-qualified liberal should be given the benefit of the doubt,” he argued.
Rove also highlighted then-Sen. Obama’s vote to allow a filibuster of Alito, making it at best supremely awkward for President Obama to now insist that his nominee has a right to a full Senate vote.
Combative Republicans will be very mindful of the Obama history as the latest political drama unfolds. Furthermore, as Rove points out, there is also an important procedural item swirling in the mix.
Rule IV of the Senate Judiciary Committee requires that a motion to end debate and bring a nominee to a vote pass with 10 votes in the affirmative, one of which the minority must cast.
“Before last week,” noted Rove, “that Republican was likely to be Arlen Specter, but he’s now a Democrat. Mr. Obama will have to consider if his pick is likely to win over at least one Judiciary Republican.”
Also adding to the Obama dilemma, wrote Rove, is the matter of timing. With just over 100 days in office, there just hasn’t been time to vet the prospects.
This rush to judgment is made all the more significant when cast against the backdrop of five administration nominees already found stained with the ugly blemish of unpaid taxes.
“Mr. Obama knows he has used up any capital that could have purchased forgiveness for such offenses by a Supreme Court nominee,” Rove wrote.
Let the fireworks begin.