ABA Looks at The Lawyers Who May Run America

The American Bar Association Magazine attempts to predict the lawyers whom Sen. Barack Obama and John McCain are likely to appoint as Attorney General, Supreme Court Justices, Solicitor General, Homeland Security Chief and more.

Cass Sunstein is on the list, but not as Supreme Court Justice -- he's tapped for the White House Domestic Policy Advisor. For Attorney General, the ABA names Eric Holder and Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick. For Homeland Security Director, AZ Gov. Janet Napolitano.

The ABA is right to call their article a guessing game. I don't put much stock in their selections. As for McCain's choices, there are a few laugh-out-louds: [More...]

Miguel Estrada for Supreme Court? Bush couldn't even get him on the Court of Appeals. Can McCain not spell filibuster? And what better evidence than McCain would be Bush III?

Again, I don't put much stock in any of the ABA predictions, but thinking about who each candidate might appoint to high level positions does point out stark differences between them, and that's worth thinking about.

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    It won't take a filibuster. (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by TChris on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 01:02:57 PM EST
    Now that Dems control the Senate, Estrada wouldn't even get a confirmation hearing, much less a vote.

    It is pretty close to unthinkable (5.00 / 0) (#4)
    by Steve M on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 01:16:02 PM EST
    that the Democrats would not even give a confirmation hearing to one of McCain's Supreme Court nominees, in my opinion.

    Regardless, if the idea is to figure out who these two candidates would be likely to appoint, worrying about filibusters and such seems to defeat the point of the exercise.


    Likely someone would get a hearing (5.00 / 0) (#8)
    by scribe on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 01:31:03 PM EST
    but the nominee would only be selected and announced after extended back-channel discussions, with the Senate Dems saying "no" to the conservatives and resume-free candidates until McSame came up with someone even remotely acceptable.

    Whether that person would pass muster in public - another matter.  But they wouldn't even get a hearing until the Senate Dems had winnowed out the clowns behind the scenes.


    I was going to say the same thing (none / 0) (#13)
    by flyerhawk on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 02:24:49 PM EST
    You can't table a Supreme Court nominee.  

    But it is unlikely that a 55-45 Dem controlled Senate would ever confirm him.


    Why should lawyers have all the fun? (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by steviez314 on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 01:03:24 PM EST
    United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices looks at the Plumbers who may run America.

    Sunstein as Obama's domestic (none / 0) (#3)
    by oculus on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 01:12:09 PM EST
    policy guru?  No changes in FISA on the horizon.

    I'd put (none / 0) (#5)
    by eric on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 01:21:05 PM EST
    Glen Greenwald on the Court.

    This tidbit about Eric Holder (none / 0) (#6)
    by shoephone on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 01:28:38 PM EST
    probably belongs in the "be careful what you wish for" category:

    In 1999, Holder helped convince Republi­cans to scrap independent counsel investigations, successfully arguing before Congress that wrongdoing by public officials can, and should, be handled by the Justice Depart­ment.

    Scuttlebutt: Carlos Moreno, (none / 0) (#7)
    by oculus on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 01:28:52 PM EST
    currently on the California Supreme Court, is/was on Obama's short list.  Except Moreno voted for striking the "no same sex marriage" statute.  

    Gov.'s Patrick and Napolitano? (none / 0) (#9)
    by Socraticsilence on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 02:05:12 PM EST
    I can see Patrick giving up his seat (if he's still as low in approval as he is currently) but wouldn't it make more sense for Napolitano to take McCain's seat in 3 or 4 years when he retires? I mean I guess Homeland could be a springboard to a run at the Whitehouse but it doesn't seem like that kind of post (it seems like FEMA- you only get press when you screw up-- unless of course she goes like Ridge and bumps the terror alert all the time just for kicks).

    I seriously doubt Napolitano has (none / 0) (#10)
    by tigercourse on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 02:09:07 PM EST
    Presidential ambitions. The idea that she would have ever been chosen as VP was a fiction of the blogs.

    Her speech at the DNC (none / 0) (#11)
    by oculus on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 02:18:31 PM EST
    wasn't very inspirational.

    I'm not sure that's a fair metric (none / 0) (#15)
    by Socraticsilence on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 02:34:34 PM EST
    I mean other people have bombed and gone on to give great speeches-- according to everything I've read Bill Clinton's 1988 Keynote was one of the worst speeches in convention history (apparently the only cheer he got was at the end when it was over) and we all know he's a great public speaker-- heck, I can only think of a few people  who launched themselves with that first convention speech:

    Ronald Reagan in 1964 (though this may be one of those "in retrospect" things)

    Hubert Humphery in 1948 (Basically laid out the case against segregation and the Dixiecrat wing of the party)


    Barack Obama in 2004 (Um, yeah was there anyone who watched that thing and didn't think this guy would be our first African-American president; though admittedly most of us thought it would be a little bit later)

    This year's big breakout speech was Schweitzer (who is one of those guys who gives speeches that play populist and sound a bit dumber than the man is-- he's my governor and intelligencewise-- not just in political terms-- he's one of the smarter people in public service; the man's good at that Clinton: being really smart but still seeming normal thing, which is the one thing Obama lacks-- he comes off as being brilliant, something that for whatever reason isn't a plus in American politics). Almost all the other memorable convention speeches that people talk about, were attack speeches by established political figures (Richardson 88), or reunification speeches by fallen primary opponents (Hillary's this year and Kennedy's in 1980 are two of the best at this- Kennedy's didn't reunite as well but had maybe the single best ending of any speech in the last 30 years-- that "the dream shall never die" bit is electrifying).


    JFK, 1956, DNC, Chicago: (none / 0) (#28)
    by oculus on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 03:16:25 PM EST
    Agree about not judging a pol (none / 0) (#30)
    by brodie on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 03:22:23 PM EST
    on one speech -- a little more important is whether s/he is generally capable of delivering the goods on the stump, which is a combination of personality and speechmaking ability.  Of course, it's also important to deliver when the big cameras are on.  They really weren't focused on her at this yr's DNC since she wasn't on the ticket and wasn't the keynoter.  Only political junkies noticed or remember her less than scintillating presentation.

    Minor correction:  Bill Clinton didn't give the Keynote in 88 (that was Ann Richards), but the nominating speech -- the only one, as per firm instructions from the Dukakis camp.  That's why he was so badly received -- the audience hadn't been warned that Bill by himself, contrary to convention tradition, would be doing all the nominating chores.  And the rest is history ... the bad reviews, the famous chat with Johnny Carson making light of it -- actually come to think of it, Bill managed to turn the lemon into lemonade ...


    I recall it differently (none / 0) (#37)
    by shoephone on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 05:27:18 PM EST
    Clinton's speech was bad because it went on forever -- more than an hour? -- and everyone was either fidgeting like crazy or had fallen asleep by the time Dukakis came out to give his acceptance.

    I remember thinking to myself at the time, "Who is this long-winded joker?"


    I think in retrospect (none / 0) (#24)
    by Socraticsilence on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 03:06:43 PM EST
    It might be looked at like Buchannan's in 1992-- a speech that killed with the base but in the end left the middle of the country cold if not outright scared.

    "Inspirational" applied to Presidential (none / 0) (#29)
    by oculus on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 03:17:33 PM EST
    aspirations, not to cabinet post.

    Well, (none / 0) (#12)
    by Socraticsilence on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 02:20:14 PM EST
    She's popular, appears confident and she's from a "Red" State it made her an attractive VP possibility-- hell if John McCain wasn't the GOP nom, and the Hillary backlash wouldn't have occured if Obama had chosen another woman, she would have been the most logical choice (Arizona has more EV than Kansas- and frankly if not for McCain would probably have flipped-- perhaps even without the Gov.)-- other than Hillary (and frankly if Hillary's last name wasn't Clinton, even with Hillary) she would be the single best Democratic Female Presidential pick (Sebilius ironically would in my opinion be a better president than either Hillary or Napolitano, what she's done in terms of actually converting Republicans is kind of amazing, and I think she more than any other current political figure would be able to actually get stuff done-- seriously, look at her career its kind of amazing- shame she's not that great of a public speaker).

    The main reason that she likely has little (none / 0) (#14)
    by tigercourse on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 02:26:27 PM EST
    presidential ambition is that alot of people think she is gay. There is no way in heck that Obama would have put someone on his ticket who many people believe to be gay.

    Yeah (none / 0) (#17)
    by Socraticsilence on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 02:45:27 PM EST
    That is the one thing, how did she ever win with that in a Slightly Red state? Its a western libertarianism thing right-- I mean even here in Montana I couldn't see that happening-- though it would be more likely with a woman than a man (the one area where sexism/gender roles flow the other way-- Lesbianism, even non-lipstick lesbianism is more acceptable than male homosexuality; probably because the stereotypes actually bolster the leadership qualities of former, while undercutting those of the latter).  

     Maybe both of us are misreading the country though, may be able understandable due to the "western libertarianism" angle but what about Florida, they have a presumably (by basically everyone) homosexual male Governor, and they're a Red, older, southern (not really but it can be spun that way if it helps-- Florida may have been a part of the confederacy, but only the Northern third could be considered Southern, trust me I grew up there), heavily evangelical state- that seems to be a signal that as long as a politican's sexuality isn't in the news then it doesn't matter to people.

    Of Course Napolitano, could be 2016 have pulled a Crist-- and gotten a beard (one of the more bizarre subplots of the year was Crist announcing his engagement right about the time McCain launched his VP search).


    If Obama had (unwisely) (none / 0) (#32)
    by brodie on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 03:28:12 PM EST
    selected JN instead of Joe, there would have been another ugly rumormongering campaign by the McCain/Schmidt GOP machine.  Worse than what Bush-Rove threw at Ann Richards in 1994.

    An entirely foreseeable headachy situation TeamObama would have wanted to avoid.

    I think the first woman elected either to P or VP is going to have to show the usual traditional feminine profile (orientation, marriage).  But for a cabinet post, or statewide high office in many states, all that's irrelevant.


    I wasn't talking about cabinet. I was (none / 0) (#36)
    by tigercourse on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 05:18:43 PM EST
    talking about VP and presidential aspirations in general. I'm sure Napolitano isn't planning on trying for the high office.

    Patrick (none / 0) (#16)
    by CST on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 02:45:01 PM EST
    Swore he wouldn't when he ran.  We have had too many governers leave for greener pastures, and that was one of his "promises".  Now, he's a politician like the rest of them so I don't know how far that goes, but it's food for thought.  Also, he's gotten a lot better press lately, whatever that means...

    Right now his approval rating is at 45% up from 40% in May.  Still not great.


    Does he have a shot at Kennedy's seat (none / 0) (#18)
    by Socraticsilence on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 02:46:58 PM EST
    I don't mean to be Ghoulish but who are the contenders for Teddy's senate slot-- it won't go red right? (I know you guys have had a lot of GOP governors lately so I'm unsure).

    I hope not (none / 0) (#19)
    by CST on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 02:59:52 PM EST
    Go red that is.

    I don't know who the contenders are, this year it's only Kerry's seat that's up, Kennedy came in 2006.

    I don't imagine we'll go red.  We might not mind the GOP here at home, but our brand is much to the left of the national GOP (or at least they pretend to be - ahem Romney).  So we definitely like Dem control of the senate.  And now we even have a Dem governer - who won in a landslide.


    Did Romney seem as phony (none / 0) (#21)
    by Socraticsilence on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 03:04:22 PM EST
    As a Gov. and Canidate for Gov. as he did as a presidential canidate? I mean I know almost all politicans are pragmatist and shift positions to suit their own needs (especially on the presidential level where they almost have to get anything done- its why Clinton and hopefully Obama were/is going to be, more effective than Carter) but my god I've never seen anyone who did it as nakedly or as shamelessly as Romney.

    To me? (5.00 / 0) (#25)
    by CST on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 03:08:43 PM EST
    Always.  To everyone else, probably not as a candidate (he did get elected), definitely as a Governer though.  He wouldn't have stood a chance at getting re-elected.  His flip-flop on abortion did not go over well here.  And the fact that he spent most of his last year campaigning for president, travelling around the country bashing Massachusetts liberals was the nail on the coffin for him ever being respected (nevermind elected) here again.

    Would Patrick's court opinions (none / 0) (#38)
    by Cream City on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 05:30:44 PM EST
    be written by Axelrod, too? :-)

    I dunno (none / 0) (#39)
    by CST on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 05:34:26 PM EST
    But to be honest, I'm part of that 45% that approve.  Maybe I'm just a sucker for Axelrod-isms.

    Except when he actually speaks himself (Axelrod) I usually hate what comes out.  So I just like the stuff he tells others to say.


    This may be crazy (none / 0) (#20)
    by Socraticsilence on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 03:00:59 PM EST
    But what about Hillary for HHS, before you jump on me consider the fact that this wouldn't be a backbench slot anymore, in the Obama administration I think HHS would be one of the more high profile slots-- up there with SecState and SecDef-- what with Healthcare Reform and all (though, on the other hand its possible that putting Hillary in charge of Healthcare Reform could be the sort of distraction that sinks it-- it would let the GOP and the Media run through the early 90s ad nauseum, its one of those feast or famine things it'd either be awesome or a catastrophe there's no real middleground).  

    A funny (and probably stupid as it would give him a platform and credit though shred his already shaky base credibility) possibility for HHS is Romney what with his position as Gov. when the Mass plan went into place.  

    I'd like to see Edward's on the SC, frankly I think a trial lawyer on the Court would help balance the frighteningly pro-corporate ledger on there now (and his personal life would be meaningless in another decade or two-- also bonus: he's young).

    Finally, and I know this is going to get laughed at and shouted down, I think Gates might be worth keeping around for 2 years 3 months and like 2 weeks-- at which point Wes Clark could legally become Secretary of Defense. Realistically Gates can't be kept on because it'd b a tie to the most reviled adminstration in American history and at a position that is especially tied to it-- but Gates has done exactly what he should have done and at least according to all the stuff I've read is pretty much the most effective secretary of defense our country's had in quite a while (his strikes against the culture of corruption surronding the appropriations process are unparelleled).

    Romney (none / 0) (#23)
    by CST on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 03:05:47 PM EST
    I doubt the GOP would want to go with the MA health care plan...

    And if you mean Obama - I really hope not.  Romney tried like hell to strip down the plan and didn't even bother to stick around and make it work.  Not that he would've been re-elected anyway, but he didn't want anything to do with trying to actually implement the plan.


    Am I the only one (none / 0) (#31)
    by eric on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 03:25:31 PM EST
    that remains disturbed by the fact that we have a Department of Homeland Security?

    No (none / 0) (#34)
    by Socraticsilence on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 03:59:58 PM EST
    It sounds bad, and frankly, its a stupid post that overly consolidates disparate agencies in a way that might help fight terrorism but creates literally deadly bureaucracy for the combined agencies individual mandates-- FEMA, anyone?

    Napolitano loves spy cameras.... (none / 0) (#35)
    by jerry on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 04:23:59 PM EST
    I'd prefer not to see my governor at DHS.  She is entirely too under the thrall of having cameras spy on the citizen.