October 10th, 2005

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checks and balances

daveseeker and I were talking about the wisdom of two separate branches of government being involved in the process of selecting and confirming Supreme Court nominees. Since the majority of nominees are confirmed with a fairly minimal challenge he maintained that it didn't seem to do any good. I said the main function of having the Senate involved in the process was that the president would be somewhat constrained to at least try to choose someone qualified or else it would be very difficult to get his nominee confirmed. So even before the candidate goes before the Senate the process has already started to work, and their questions and debates are often almost a formality.

Perhaps because it usually works so well it didn't occur to Bush that anyone would genuinely challenge his own choice even if he picked another crony so soon after the FEMA fiasco. He forgot the part about choosing someone carefully enough that the confirmation process would be a formality. Or perhaps he never understood it sufficiently to begin with.

In any case, Andrew Sullivan today went back to The Federalist Papers for some words of wisdom about how this is supposed to work and why the legislative branch is involved:
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Russ Feingold advocates setting a date and some clear benchmarks along the way to withdraw from Iraq. In a Salon interview he talks about why setting a date for a military withdrawal will help defuse the opposition to our occupation and help stabilize Iraq. He also talks about how the Democratic Party lost its message starting in the 2002 elections which affected the 2004 elections as well. I highly recommend reading the interview--there are simply too many good quotes to pull out just one for this entry.
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The Federalist Papers

I realized that The Federalist Papers must be online in their entirety somewhere. And here they are:

http://www.law.ou.edu/hist/federalist/

As they say in the introduction, The Federalist Papers were written as a PR campaign to promote the proposed Constitution and explain it to the populace. As such it's an important document to gain a better understanding of the framers' thoughts at the time.

Too bad they aren't around to write a PR release for Iraq's constitution.