Dispirited Senate Republicans enabled Hillary Clinton to be confirmed to be Secretary of State by a vote of 94-2. Even conservative stalwart Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who had held up her confirmation because of the major conflict of interest posed by Bill Clinton’s foundation accepting millions in donations from foreign nations and interests, voted for Clinton.
Cornyn’s vote came after Sen. John McCain (RINO-Az) went to the Senate floor to call Cornyn’s objections “gratuitous.”
This week, Senate conservatives have another challenge to face: the confirmation of the radically-liberal Eric Holder to be Attorney General. It will be paralleled by votes in the House on the Obama-Pelosi economic “stimulus” package, which the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said last week won’t do much to stimulate the economy for more than a year.
The Holder nomination vote is the first tipping point in the 111th Congress: conservatives can either make a good fight and possibly defeat Holder, or they can earn a place of irrelevance for the next two years.
Unfortunately, their chances rest on the shaky shoulders of Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa), ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Specter is now the protagonist of a passion play directed by the hyperpartisan committee chairman, Pat Leahy (D-Vt).
Specter has made a career of what liberals warmly refer to as “moderation.” When he was chairman of the Judiciary Committee he catered to Democrats’ demands for time and other considerations. But when — as ranking minority member — Specter demanded a week’s delay in the Holder vote (to which the minority is entitled under committee rules) — Leahy lashed out at him.
As reported by The Politico, Leahy said, “After Republicans lauded George W. Bush’s choice of Alberto Gonzales as the first Hispanic attorney general, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy told reporters: ‘It would look like a horrible double standard… to turn down or hold up the first African-American to be attorney general…’”
In short, Leahy implicitly called Specter a racist.
I’ve called Arlen Specter everything but a gentleman, because his actions are usually those of a liberal. But calling Specter a racist is outrageous and libelous: it is untrue. But that’s Specter’s payback for decades of coddling the liberals. Other Republicans must learn from Specter’s mistake. Even Specter might.
Will Specter announce he’s voting against Holder? Probably not. If he did, other liberal Republicans might follow suit, and Holder’s nomination could be defeated. But Specter — and RINO-in-chief John McCain and his altar boy, Lindsay Graham — will almost certainly fold and go along with the Democrats yet again. Conservatives can do that too, but, if they do, they will forfeit their principles and their ability to exercise political influence.
Holder is a radical liberal and clearly unfit to be America’s chief law enforcement officer. He is opposed to the Supreme Court’s decision in DC v Heller, which held that the Second Amendment preserves an individual’s right to keep and bear arms. At his confirmation hearing, Holder bobbed and weaved, never answering the question of whether he’d work to reverse DC v Heller, whether he believed the “Fairness Doctrine” of federally-regulating the media was Constitutional, and questions on his speeches to the liberal American Constitution Society.
In an August 2008 speech to the ACS, Holder spoke about the Supreme Court decision in Boumediene v. Bush, which granted habeas corpus rights to terrorist detainees at Guantanamo Bay. In that speech, Holder said, “The very recent Supreme Court decision, by only a 5 to 4 vote, concerning habeas corpus and Guantanamo is an important first step but we must go much farther.”
When asked what he meant — what more should be done to protect the “rights” of terrorist detainees — Holder said he didn’t know what he was thinking when he said “we should go much farther.” Neither do we, but his position bodes ill for the prosecution of the war we’re in.
The Holder nomination is an opportunity for conservatives that will not come again soon. Holder is vulnerable and should not be confirmed. Against this they must unite, and if they fail, they can still change the political dynamic.
President Obama apparently understands this better than the Republicans do. He is clearly frightened at the power conservatives retain. Think about this: Obama made a huge press event of his signing the executive orders on terrorist interrogation and closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. But — days later — Obama hid behind closed doors to sign the order reversing President Bush’s ban on funding of international abortion providers.
House Republican leaders continue to tell their members that Obama — riding a 73% approval rating in the polls — can’t be fought. But leaders who are dictated to by polls aren’t leaders, they’re followers. House Conservatives — privately expressing consternation at the leaders’ statements after meeting with Obama on the stimulus package last week — have asked for their own meeting.
In the meeting with House Republican leaders, Obama chastised them, saying, "You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done." What he meant was, you can’t listen to Rush and accomplish a liberal agenda.
It is a fundamental mistake to wish President Obama success. We, as conservatives, want America to succeed. If the president takes actions that comport with conservative principles — which we believe are the best means to help America — Republicans should help him. When he does not, we must oppose him forcefully.
Obama may not agree to the meeting they’ve requested, but House Conservatives are coalescing around the idea that they will rebel against their leaders and fight the Obama-Pelosi package. They should, and they must. The “stimulus” won’t do anything to create jobs or push the economy to recovery for a year, perhaps two. It’s Obama’s package, not just Pelosi’s. The Republican Study Committee’s alternative — based on a series of tax cuts and business tax incentives — is much more likely to work and work fast.
This week, Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) will be faced with the choice of joining with Obama and Pelosi or — despite the almost certain passage of the Obama-Pelosi package — standing up to the new president. Unless they stand against the package — and against Obama — their ability to lead anyone in the 111th Congress will be severely damaged.
The Holder nomination in the Senate and the stimulus bill vote in the House are milestones: Republican members in both houses face the choice: stand for conservative principle against both, or forfeit your relevance in this Congress.
Neither Eric Holder’s nomination nor the Obama-Pelosi false stimulus package is in America’s best interests. Conservatives — regardless of their leaders’ positions — must stand fast against both. In these likely defeats, they can rediscover the road to victory.
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