President Bush announced today that he will nominate retired federal judge Michael Mukasey today to replace Alberto Gonzales as attorney general. Bush said Mukasey’s handling of terrorism cases proved he could handle the job. "Judge Mukasey is clear-eyed about the threat our nation faces," the president said. Mukasey currently serves as a judicial adviser to Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, and is known as a law-and-order conservative.
In a sign that Mukasey might win quick confirmation, Democrat and Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Charles Schumer said Mukasey was a good pick. “While he is certainly conservative,” Schumer said, “Judge Mukasey seems to be the kind of nominee who would put rule of law first and show independence from the White House—our most important criteria."
“President Bush must have decided that he didn't want a major confirmation battle,” said Power Line blog. It looks like he “backed down” on appointing Solicitor General Ted Olson because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid “said he would do everything possible to block him.” Too bad. A confirmation fight would have given the administration’s supporters an opportunity to counter the “mostly fictitious” accusations against Gonzales.
Mukasey’s selection is “an enormous relief,” said Ruth Marcus in The Washington Post (free registration required). This is the man who forced the Bush administration to let so-called dirty-bomb plotter Jose Padilla talk to his lawyers after being held incommunicado for months. There’s little doubt Mukasey “has the independence, stature, intellect and experience” to help the “battered” Justice Department “recover from the multiple injuries sustained during Gonzales's tenure.”
Don’t expect all Democrats to accept Mukasey without a fuss, said Glenn Greenwald in Salon.com. He’s “close to the far right of the political spectrum,” and “undoubtedly holds many legal and political views which most Democrats would find objectionable, perhaps even intolerable.” But that would be true of anyone Bush would even consider appointing. And given Mukasey’s “history”—especially his defiance of the administration in the Padilla case—some Republicans aren’t going to be too happy about the choice, either.
You can hardly blame Republicans for being angry, said Kate O’Beirne in National Review Online's The Corner blog. It’s not that there’s anything objectionable about Mukasey. But Democrats “were willing to play politics at the expense of a Justice Department so in need of leadership.” Olson would have made a fine attorney general. For six years, he has handled the solicitor general’s job with “unquestionable skill and integrity.” His reward? The Democrats call him a political hack and black-ball him. Nice.
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