The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday morning approved President Bush’s nomination of former Federal Judge Michael Mukasey to replace Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General.
Mukasey, a radical advocate for expanded executive power, had refused to condemn the torture tactics — such as waterboarding — that Gonzales sought unsuccessfully to legitimize.
The committee voted 11-8 to forward Mukasey’s nomination to the full Senate with a recommendation that the former judge be confirmed.
All the Republicans on the committee backed the nominee of their party’s president. They were joined by two Democrats, New York Senator Chuck Schumer and California Senator Dianne Feinstein, who said they were convinced to support nominee by his private vow to enforce any law Congress might enact barring waterboarding or related torture tactics.
To his credit, committee chair Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, pointed out that the assurance from Mukasey was meaningless.
"Unsaid, of course, is the fact that any such prohibition would have to be enacted over the veto of this president," explained Leahy.
The full rationale for rejecting Mukasey was offered by the last Democrat to announce his position, Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl, who said, "As Judge Mukasey’s answers mirror the president’s on this issue — and defy common sense — we are forced to question his independence as well. The attorney general’s loyalties must be to the Constitution, to the American people and to the law. Too much doubt on this point is disqualifying."
Disqualifying for those who take seriously their oath to defend the Constitution. But not, unfortunately, for Schumer, Feinstein and their Republican colleagues on the committee.