Justice Dept. Enters Reid Smear Campaign

The other night, Washington Times Reporter Charles Hurt thought he could smear Sen. Minority leader Harry Reid. He failed.

Desperate to catch another vote to kill the filibuster, hoping that if Reid is discredited, another Senator or two might join their pro-nuclear option ranks, the Administration is using the Justice Department to try again.

The problem, as Bob Brigham writes, is this:

  • For years, reporters have been writing about this file (common knowledge in the public domain).
  • This is a politically motivated "leak" by a Justice Department "anonymous source" -- total partisan politics.
  • No where does the letter mention Reid, but the "leak" brings Reid into the story, making it clear that the intention is a political smear.

Matt Singer points out once again, this is old news and previously referred to publicly more than a year ago not only by Reporter Charles Hurt, but by Senator Carl Levin and others:

Where was this concern a year ago, when Carl Levin, Debbie Stabenow, and Charles Hurt all referred to these materials? It was nowhere. This isn't concern about what's going on. It's the Bush Administration trying to hijack democracy by meddling in the legislative process, inferring that the legislative branch must defer to the executive, and generally ransacking the principles of our Constitution.

As Bob says here,

When it comes to the Nuclear Option, the out-of-control Republicans lack the votes in their own party. They don't have the votes they need, they don't have public opinion. The one thing they do have is control of government and it looks like Bush is willing to have our government play the hatchetman role this feeble attempt to fake a scandal.

The Republicans will not win the nuclear option fight. As I wrote last night, many of them don't even want it - it's way too dicey:

I think the Republicans are fearful that the next time the White House goes Democratic, without the filibuster option, they will be stuck with the Democrats' choice for a Supreme Court Justice. Add to this the fact that the public is against changing the filibuster rules and Frist right now is short some votes.

The right wing bloggers are now jumping on the story, trying to smear Reid. They missed the train. The story fizzled out before it went anywhere. Even the mainstream media recognized it was a no-go. See this Washington Post reference.

Several Republicans criticized Reid yesterday for his comments Thursday regarding Henry Saad of Michigan, nominated by Bush to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. In a Senate floor speech, Reid said Saad "would have been filibustered" if Frist had brought the nomination to the full Senate. "All you need to do is have a member go upstairs and look at his confidential report from the FBI, and I think we would all agree that there is a problem there," Reid said.

Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) told reporters yesterday that Reid "is hitting below the belt to make such an assertion and innuendo that there is something criminally wrong with an individual nominee. It is lacking in civility and fairness." Reid spokesman Jim Manley said: "The fact that there are questions about this nominee's suitability to be a federal judge has been discussed in public for over a year. Senator Reid simply referred his colleagues to the source of those questions. That is Senator Reid's right and responsibility."

But it just goes to show how ugly things will get in the blogosphere next week if Frist tries to pull a fast one. We're ready.

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  • Re: Justice Dept. Enters Reid Smear Campaign (none / 0) (#1)
    by jimcee on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:04 PM EST
    After reading your whole post on the Reid kerfuffle I still can't figure out what it was that was in the FBI file. No one will say either way but it is really bad, I guess that is it but who knows? Is it because Saad inadvertently sent a mean e-mail to an elected official from Michigan? I really don't get it, please someone explain what it is in this super secret file that is so bad that it disqualifies even his consideration for the position, please. This is really McCarthy-esque. Sincerely, please explain.

    Re: Justice Dept. Enters Reid Smear Campaign (none / 0) (#2)
    by The Heretik on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:04 PM EST
    My take on this is the same as yours: Frist does not have the votes to sustain breaking the filibuster by Dems when Owen comes to the Senate floor for consideration. The level of desperation on the part of Republicans is most evident with the attempted smear on Reid. We have all seen such smears before. I think, however, we may finally be at the point where the smears cease to work. More evident than the desperation with the Republican, though, is an even more open, petulant frustration. Bush's domestic attack lap dog Frist is genuinely surprised the Democrats are not accepting his "reasonable offer" for them to roll over and take his instruction and commands. That Frist is going forward now is a sign of over reaching for something that may not be in his grasp. Within the minds of the yet unannounced and undeclared Republican Senators must be some sense for what could happen to the Senate without the filibuster. Reid's appeals to conscience are having their effect. Byrd calling First on the floor on where it says in the Constitution that nominees get up and down votes is also key. I applaud your energy in following this most critical topic. Much more background info on this my way at Armageddon on the Potomac

    Re: Justice Dept. Enters Reid Smear Campaign (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:04 PM EST
    You know, for a team that had such message discipline in the first term, "Team Rove" has been shooting blanks ever since the election. First, Social Security, then Terri Schiavo, now John Bolton and the Senate filibuster rule-change... Incredibly tone-deaf for a once-unstoppable force. Sometimes, the magic goes away and you're left with a lame magician... Meet Karl Rove and his puppet G.W...

    Re: Justice Dept. Enters Reid Smear Campaign (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:04 PM EST
    jimcee, I have no idea what was in the FBI report. Reid never mentioned it--the whole flap is that he mentioned the words "fbi report" and that something negative was contained in it, but several other people, including Levin, the same reporter and the Detroit Free Press had mentioned the thing a year ago. He wasn't exactly saying anything that had not been reported previously on a national scale.

    Re: Justice Dept. Enters Reid Smear Campaign (none / 0) (#5)
    by Che's Lounge on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:04 PM EST
    It's just a diversion. Yet, I'm truly amazed at how many well educated people are not informed about this issue.

    Re: Justice Dept. Enters Reid Smear Campaign (none / 0) (#6)
    by jimcee on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:07 PM EST
    It just seems rather unseemly or perhaps more accurately kind of juvenile in a high school kind of way and that disappoints me because it just seems that our gov't has become the domain of bunch of immature adolescents all the way around. My apologies to immature adolescents everywhere.