Beltway types immediately began worrying that a “bruising confirmation battle” would sap President Bush’s energy.
Sorry, but Joe Biden, Pat Leahy and Ted Kennedy couldn’t bruise a nominee with a bag of hammers. The confirmation hearing of the right nominee is in fact a great stage for the defense of the Adminstration’s national security policies, including the recent revisions to FISA.
What is needed is a very sharp and experienced prosecutor who has overseen the investigation, indictment, trial conviction and sentencing of a terrorist or many terrorists in a proceeding that employed evidence that was available only because the government’s full powers of surveillance were deployed. The nominee needs to be smart on the law and fully aware of what we are up against. The Looming Tower should be on his or her shelf, and the ability to stare down clowns asking stupid questions while maintaining a smile is assumed. The Chief Justice and Justice Alito set a high standard for nominees, but the same sort of background and competence is necessary here, and if the president secures the consent of the right nominee, the Adminstration gets front bench talent for its last year-and-a-half and the cause of national security gets a credentialed spokesman for the next few decades. (Please, not a 60 nominee. “Energy in the Executive” is helped along by the presence of rising stars not setting suns.)
The president is absolutely committed to prosecuting the war while protecting the country and the civil liberties of citizens, and to establishing policies that will allow his successor the chance to do so as well. Getting this nomination right will go a long way towards securing that agenda and that legacy.