When the news came out that a group of Senators had given President Bush a list of their own members they thought would do well on the Supreme Court, I listened carefully. Naturally, all were Republicans, but I looked beyond the obvious and wondered just what the Democrats were up to. The mention of one of my own Senators, Judd Gregg (whom I’ve never really liked, but is a “family friend” of the Bushes), really caught my ear. ANd that’s when I started concocting my own conspiracy theory.
No one expects President Bush to nominate a Democrat or a liberal to the Supreme Court (although he could do a lot worse than someone like, say, Zell Miller or Joe Lieberman). His eventual nominee would have at least some conservative tendencies. Hell, if Clinton can name a former counsel to the ACLU to the Court, Bush’s nominee should have at least SOME conservative credentials. So, what were the Democrats up to by suggesting Senators?
My first thought was that they were playing another game entirely. They were looking past the Court, and hoping to sneak in a gain in the Senate.
In most states, when a Senate seat becomes vacant, the governor of that state appoints a successor to fill out the departed Senator’s term. Now, in New Hampshire, we have a Democrat governor (who I cheerfully voted for last November), which means that if Gregg were to be confirmed to the Court (spit), Governor Lynch would appoint a Democrat to succeed him and erode the Republican majority there.
But that didn’t hold water. It turns out that while Gregg comes from a state with a Democratic governor, the other four (Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Mel Martinez of Florida, Mike Dewine of Ohio, and Mike Crapo of Idaho) all hail from states held by Republicans. So that theory went right out the window.
So my second theory began to evolve. Gregg’s been in the Senate since 1992, and he’s a pretty influential member. If they couldn’t swing a Democratic replacement for a Senator, could they at least put a dent in the seniority system?
That one didn’t work too well, either. Dewine has been in the Senate since 1994, Crapo since 1998, Graham since 2002, and Martinez just got elected in 2004. None of them have a great deal of seniority built up.
So in the end, I am reminded of the danger of extrapolating conclusions from narrow evidence (in this case, extending information about Gregg to cover other senators lumped in with him) and find my perfectly wonderful conspiracy theory smashed on the bitter rocks of reality.
But gosh darn, it was fun while it lasted…