Revisionist History

REVISIONIST HISTORY….This just cracks me up. (I know, sometimes I’m easily amused.) Today at NRO, Byron York tries to convince us that Democrats should play nice with George Bush’s replacement for Sandra Day O’Connor. Why? Because Republicans “cooperated with Democrats to ensure a quick confirmation” back when Bill Clinton nominated Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer to the Supreme Court:

They moved with such speed because Republicans, in particular Sen. Orrin Hatch, the ranking GOP member on the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time, declined to challenge their records. Ginsburg, in particular, received something of a bye from Republicans despite her former position as general counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union; had they chosen to, Republicans could have hung every extreme ACLU position around Ginsburg’s neck. Instead, “Sen. Hatch put an orderly and fair process above scoring political points,” says one high-ranking staffer involved at the time. “It ensured that the Senate’s conduct of the hearings was constructive rather than divisive.”

Nice try, Bryon. Here’s how Hatch tells the story in his autobiography:

[It] was not a surprise when the President called to talk about the appointment and what he was thinking of doing. President Clinton indicated he was leaning toward nominating Bruce Babbitt….I told him that confirmation would not be easy.

….Our conversation moved to other potential candidates. I asked whether he had considered Judge Stephen Breyer of the First Circuit Court of Appeals or Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals….I knew them both and believed that, while liberal, they were highly honest and capable jurists and their confirmation would not embarrass the President. From my perspective, they were far better than the other likely candidates from a liberal Democrat administration.

In other words, the only reason Hatch decided not to score political points against Clinton’s nominees was because Clinton had agreed to nominate the very candidates Hatch wanted him to nominate. So here’s my deal for Byron York: if George Bush calls up Patrick Leahy and agrees to nominate the candidate that Leahy recommends, Democrats will guarantee a quick and painless confirmation. I know I don’t officially speak for Senate Democrats or anything, but I feel pretty confident about making this promise.