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Pundit Roundtable

Welcome back again to Pundit Roundtable! Once again this is your host, Ken McCracken.

This week we have asked our pundits the following questions on two topics:

Topic 1: Miers Withdrawing Her Supreme Court nomination.

Are the conservatives going to forgive Bush for picking Harriet Miers instead of the next incarnation of Antonin Scalia? Does it matter now that Miers has withdrawn her nomination? Who should the president nominate now, and why?

Topic 2: Lewis 'Scooter' Libby indictment.

On a scale of 1 to 10 on the political richter scale, 1 being a slight tremor, and 10 being a seismic shifting of the continents, how serious a problem for the Bush administration is the Libby indictment and/or the Plame Affair as a whole?

Our first guest is Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit. Jim, what do you think?

Topic 1:

Forgiven … Only a jerk wouldn’t forgive GW. There is too much at stake right now to hold grudges. Everyone must focus attention and energy on the fight ahead. Now that “W” sees the conservative base is willing to fight (although the Senators are a bit wobbly) he is going to come up with a strong conservative candidate. I trust him.

The next candidate should definitely be Janice Rogers Brown. Then we could all watch the Democratic Party self-implode. It would be hard for the liberals to pelt her with slave names without finally more blacks in the country seeing who the real racist party is in the US. There would be rioting in Blue States and at CNN that would dwarf the Paris immigrant riots from this weekend. I’d love to see the Left frog march Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson back to an honest day of work instead of attending racist communist rallies like the Million More Movement Rally in DC. It would be good for the country not to have to worry about Jesse showing up after a natural disaster trying to start a race riot.

And, for this same reason Condoleezza Rice needs to run for president. It would be the absolute end of the Democratic Party and there would be no media spin great enough to hide their racism from the masses.

Topic 2:

As for the Libby indictment… the Left is trying its darnedest to make the country believe that he is a Cabinet Member and that it is really Libby not Rove who is the brains behind George Bush. I hope it is over soon. I hope that Libby has a good defense. I would be surprised if there were more indictments.

I actually see a link between the two topics. If President Bush picks a staunch conservative, the Left will make fools of themselves ripping into the candidate, especially if Conservatives focus on the issues. The slime the Left will throw at the nominee they will end up wearing.

missouriredpic.gif Home State: Missouri.


Our next guest is Neo-neocon. How do you see this?

Topic 2:

As with most of these things, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I can only answer how serious it's been so far; if they dig up more dirt on Rove, for example, the situation would change. But, as it stands now, to Bush supporters it's somewhere in the 1-2 category. After what was expected and/or feared, the indictment of Libby for perjury in the absence of any other charges is a palpable relief, amounting to an almost Emily Litella-like "never mind" on the part of the prosecutor.

Ah, but to Bush-haters and/or those who would like the entire Republican Party paid back for the impeachment of Clinton and its other high crimes and misdemeanors, it's about a 6-7 at the moment. But the fervent hope--and expectation--is that the aftershocks will reach 10 levels.

The MSM's role so far has been mixed, depending on the affiliation of the speaker or writer (surprise, surprise!) But there's been a general trend to endeavor to spin the situation towards the higher numbers. This drive is motivated in part by self-interest, the goal being to have a meaty crisis that the MSM can sink its formidable teeth into and thus drive ratings up. If that can't be accomplished so far with facts, then rumor and innuendo will do. "Cheney may have to testify!!" and that sort of thing, said in a certain voice suggesting that the mere act of testifying would somehow implicate him.

In the buildup to the announcement of the indictment/indictments, the function of the MSM seemed to be limited to guesses about who would be implicated. It turns out that, in general, their guesses were as good as anyone's, but no better. So I'm not going to make any predictions about the future of the case, because my guesses would probably be no better than theirs.

newyorkbluepic.gif Home State: New York.


Next is a return guest from last week, Hoodlumman from File It Under. What do you say?

Topic 1:

Absolutely conservatives will forgive Bush. Unlike the rabid left, we obviously don't oppose and obstruct for the sake of opposing and obstructing. It shows that lots of conservatives don't march lock-step with the president and all his views, choices and decisions. But what we'll see next, I believe, is Bush selecting someone that will unite most, if not all, conservative bases - a la Roberts - and we'll be back to a selection we on the right will support fully and the left will be frothing and hissing over, just like the politics we've all come to love and cherish. Sort of.

Topic 2:

As someone who really couldn't gather much interest in the whole Plame-gate affair, I give it a reading of a 1. Of course, if you're a Democrat, this stuff is an 11 - or at least you'd like it to be. But it's not. It's a two-year investigation that yielded a few indictments for one person in the administration - some guy in the VP's office that no one would know of if not for this.

When the left didn't get their Rove, it took any huge headlines and fallout off the table. I'd still argue that outside of politically active people, any of this regardless of who/when/where isn't cared about by the general public.

texasredpic.gif Home State: Texas.


Next is Dan Morgan from NoSpeedBumps.com. Dan?

Topic 1:

With Harriet Miers withdrawing her nomination, President Bush has a chance to start again. At this point, this is the best outcome for Bush. He now has a clean slate. If he picks a qualified nominee, and someone with a demonstrated philosophy of judicial restraint, all will quickly be forgiven by nearly all of the conservatives that disapproved of his last pick.

In one sense this is a kind of test for the conservative movement. Rarely have disagreements within the ranks been to visible. I predict the rift will disappear quickly, thus showing a core strength of conservatives: They believe in a big tent and a broad range of views are allowed. The litmus test mentality is much more at home on the Left and among the Democrats."

Topic 2:
This is a 1 on the Richter scale, and a big fizzle for eager Democrats. With Rove and others apparently now not in line for indictment, and Libby indicted for things other than revealing a CIA agent's identity, this is not going to get the seismic shifting of the continents hoped for by Democrats. In fact, with Libby now gone from the White House, this will all quickly be forgotten. Libby's trial will be for an ex-government worker.

With this out of the way, the hope now is that President Bush gives a renewed effort at Social Security reform, including adding the Personal Retirement Accounts component. Vastly improved security along the southern border should also be a high priority issue, but so far Republicans in Congress and the Bush administration still look like deer frozen by on-coming headlights. So Social Security reform may be the most conservatives can hope for.

pennsylvaniapic.gif Home State: Pennsylvania.


Now we turn to Will Franklin for his views. Will?

Topic 1:

Conservatives are reasonable people, and many conservatives of all stripes (social and fiscal) were willing to give Bush the benefit of the doubt on Miers. Still, you could feel a sigh of relief coming from most everyone on the right that Miers had withdrawn. The small-but-vocal cadre of angry conservatives who were pontificating about how they have given up on Bush and this and that will forgive the President-- AND THEN SOME-- if he nominates a brilliant young jurist with clear evidence of a conservative judicial philosophy.

I would love to see any of Janice Rogers Brown, Priscilla Owen, Miguel Estrada, Karen Williams, Emilio Garza, Maureen Mahoney, Diane Sykes. or Edith Jones, if the choice must be a minority or woman. Alito, Luttig, McConnell, and so on would be great picks, as well. Basically, two rules: No stealth nominees. Nobody who could even remotely be construed as a "crony."

If President Bush nominates any of these candidates, it will provoke a debate on judicial philosophy, a debate which conservatives are ready, willing, and eager to have. It will also be a debate that conservatives will win, despite the media's favoritism the other direction.

Topic 2:

This could have been an 8 if the left's wildest dreams had come true and indictments had come down on several folks, including Karl Rove, for actual crimes that could jeopardize national security. Right now, it's about a 3 or 4, only because Karl Rove is technically still under investigation. Without that confusing cloud still hanging over the administration, it could have been a 2, because, after all, the crimes Libby allegedly committed only materialized in the course of the grand jury investigation itself.

texasredpic.gif Home State: Texas.


And now we get the host's last word.

Topic 1: if Bush nominates an obvious conservative this time around, not only will the conservatives forgive him, they will hoist him on their shoulders. The fight against Miers was a very principled one I think. The critics of Bush complained that he was not delivering on what is perhaps the top issue in the nation today next to the War on Terror, that is, reforming the judiciary and removing activist judges on the Supreme Court. If Bush can finally make good on this, I think his poll numbers will jump. Not that poll numbers rule all, but it would show how reinvigorated the base will become.

My favorite pick would be Janice Rogers Brown. No one doubts her qualifications - even the ABA has rated her 'well-qualified'. She is eloquent, and there is no mystery about where she stands. She has a compelling life story - she really had to struggle to get where she is, and so the complaints about John Roberts that he was some pampered and isolated son of privilege would be quite inapt here. The fact that she is black and a woman is important too. The great thing about that is, no one could really claim that she was chosen solely for that reason - her resume and philosophy would make her a standout if she was a white male. So why not go with a black female? It will drive the libs bonkers. Maybe this next nomination should be about driving the libs bonkers, among other things.

I'd be perfectly happy with any of the nominees Will mentioned also.

As for the Plame affair, I give it a two on the political richter scale. I understand why everyone else seems to be giving it a 1 - heh, I have been a Plame affair junkie though so I am biased in its favor. Plus, the administration still needs to deal with the fallout from this, even though the whole thing has been ginned up by the press. There is also the remote possibility that more will come from the investigation. Let's hope not.

illinois.gif Home State: Illinois.


That's all for this week. Thank you pundits for participating, and see you next Sunday!

Posted by Ken McCracken · 30 October 2005 10:41 AM


Tim Russert has nothing on Ken McCracken.

Posted by: Will Franklin at October 30, 2005 01:57 PM

He is cuter though.

Posted by: Ken McCracken at October 30, 2005 02:01 PM