WASHINGTON -- Conservatives are privately urging that President Bush replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor with another woman in an effort to disarm feminist opposition.
The principal conservative choice is Appellate Judge Edith Jones, who was considered for the Supreme Court by the first President Bush more than a dozen years ago but is still only 56 years old. Judge Edith Clement, Jones's colleague on the 5th Circuit (New Orleans), has a lower profile, could be easier to confirm and would probably be acceptable to conservatives.
Left-wing feminists would oppose confirmation of either Jones or Clement, but their argument against President Bush of gender bias would be undercut.
MCCAIN: 70 PERCENT
Sen. John McCain's friends believe the probability of his trying again for president in 2008 has risen from 50 to 70 percent, with only the question of his future health raising doubt about his candidacy.
McCain, who has suffered skin cancer, is reported by friends to be in excellent health. But he is said to be pondering prospects for a man his age. He would be, at age 72, the oldest man ever elected president.
A footnote: Allies say McCain would skip the opening round Iowa caucuses in 2008, as he did in 2000. That did him no harm in 2000, when he went on to defeat George W. Bush in New Hampshire's first in the nation presidential primary.
Rep. Harold Ford, one of the brightest young Democratic lights in the House and a Senate candidate in Tennessee next year, stunned colleagues by endorsing the Supreme Court's unpopular Kelo decision. That ruling permitted a Connecticut city to seize homeowners' property and transfer it to private developers.
"We have a lot of properties in my city [Memphis] . . . that are crying out for development," Ford said on a Nashville radio talk show. The congressman asserted, "I've always been one to believe that individual rights is a big thing," but added, "there is some real value to this decision."
A footnote: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also went against the popular tide by defending Kelo. Opposing congressional efforts to nullify the court's decision, she said it was "almost as if God has spoken."
DURBIN AND DALEY
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, who has claimed criticism of his remarks about the Guantanamo detention resulted from "an orchestrated right-wing attack," has attributed to this column Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley's description of the senator's comments as a "disgrace."
In an interview (with the Chicago suburban Daily Herald), Durbin was asked how his "right-wing" adversaries brought in Daley. "Bob Novak," Durbin replied, asserting that I told Daley what is supposedly my "side of the story." In fact, Daley made his comments in a June 21 press conference before I talked to the mayor.
"Unfortunately," said Durbin, "the mayor didn't know that we had put out a statement . . . about this," adding: "I don't think he knew the whole story." Actually, Daley was well aware of the senator's statement and regarded it an inadequate explanation of his comparison of U.S. soldiers at Guantanamo with Nazis, the Soviet gulags and Cambodia's Pol Pot.
Rep. Charles Rangel has written to lobbyists who represent corporate interests before the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, where he is the ranking Democrat, asking for contributions from $1,000 to $10,000 "to underwrite" his 75th birthday party.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and retired Gen. Wesley Clark will address the event starting at 6 p.m. Aug. 3 at the Tavern on the Green in Manhattan. "I would like to be able to list your name on the invitation," Rangel said in his solicitation. He admonished the lobbyists to "fax the attached response sheet back to my office as soon as possible."
Rangel, in his 18th term representing Harlem in Congress, needs no funds for his own re-election. He distributes funds to other Democratic candidates through his National Leadership Political Action Committee, augmenting his influence and power in the House.