Fortunately for the Dems, Schumer and Feinstein came to the rescue. As members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, they voted for Mukasey -- which paved the way for a full Senate vote and, thus, confirmation.
If they had not done so, Bush might have made good on his threat not to name another nominee, leaving acting AG Peter Keisler on the job. "It was a choice between Mukasey and an acting appointment who wouldn't be independent of the Bush administration," Feinstein spokesman Scott Gerber explained. "To her, Mukasey was the better alternative."
This is about more than Democrats versus Republicans. Gonzales was a poor attorney general whose political activities undermined the Department of Justice and led to 10 months of scandal and resignations. Failure to confirm Mukasey would have left the Department of Justice rudderless, with 10 top positions vacant and low morale. That's great news for would-be terrorists and those who would flout civil rights laws.
California Democratic Party adviser Bob Mulholland dismissed the Feinstein censure motion as "ridiculous, going nowhere."
Nonetheless, this "censure Feinstein" movement shows how little upside there is for any politician to work with the other party. Put one toe over the partisan divide, and the political fringe police whip out their whistles.
What voters should be angry about, they remain silent on. The House can pass a pork-filled farm bill, and there was little noise about pork. The four Democrats running for the White House skipped voting on Mukasey -- an important vote -- and that posed no problem.
On the flip side, President Bush probably watched the Schumer-Feinstein pile-on and figured: Why even try to work with Democrats? It's not as if he'll get any credit for it.
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