To recap: Earlier this week, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-8 to send Michael Mukasey's nomination for Attorney General to the floor. Just two Democrats, Sens. Chuck Schumer and Diane Feinstein, voted for him. To assuage concerns about his non-answers, a law is being considered that would explicitly ban waterboarding and other methods of torture. But why knows if that will pass. And here's this, just in case there's any dispute about whether it constitutes torture,
Just six Democrats voted in favor of him on the Senate floor (Bayh, Carper, Feinstein, Landrieu, Nelson, and Schumer), plus Joe Lieberman of course. This is pathetic. Interestingly, the vote was held late last night (perhaps because they didn't want their capitulation to be seen in the light of day?), at a time when the four Dem Senators running for president (Biden, Clinton, Dodd, and Obama - all of whom opposed Mukasey's confirmation) could not make it to vote.
Some Democrats argue that this guy was the best we'd get from the Bush administration and that the White House was threatening not to nominate anyone else. As always, they will always give in to threats. So what if no one else was nominated? Would an interim AG Bush picks be any worse than getting exactly who he wants anyway? It is just a dumb argument to make. And at least at least Senate Democrats wouldn't have had the embarrassment of allowing the confirmation of someone the vast majority of them didn't approve of. At least they would have shown they can stand up for their principles. Oh well, maybe next time.
UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald slams Democrats for not holding Mukasey to the same 60-vote standard that Republicans have held virtually all the legislation they've wanted to pass to. The only thing I'd point out is inevitably more Democrats would vote for cloture than vote for confirmation (this always happens with nominees), but Greenwald is right that if all the Dems had voted, and all voted against cloture, they would have had enough votes to filibuster.
UPDATE II: Interesting tidbit from the Washington Post:
Mukasey garnered the lowest number of yes votes among confirmed attorneys general since James P. McGranery, who was approved by a vote of 52 to 18 in 1952 during the Truman administration. The only recent competitor is John D. Ashcroft, who attracted 58 yes votes from the GOP-controlled Senate in 2001.UPDATE III: From TPM - "According to sources inside and outside the Democratic leadership, Harry Reid allowed a vote on Mukasey because in exchange the Republican leadership agreed to allow a vote on the big Defense Appropriations Bill." Apparently, they want to show they are supporting the troops and Mukasey's confirmation was the sacrifice. Shameful politics.
Unfortunately, a cloture vote probably wouldn't have derailed the nomination anyway because it would have gotten the requisite 60 votes. Senate Dems defended their decision not to wage a filibuster, "arguing it would have been a fruitless endeavor that would have set a dangerous precedent if a Democrat wins the White House in 2008." Yes, I'm sure there good will here will stop Republicans from blocking future Democratic nominees!