Will the Republicans Back Up Their Condemnations with a Vote of No Confidence?
Looseheadprop offered some thoughts this morning on the importance of next Wednesday's no confidence vote in the Senate. As she says, the point of the "meaningless political stunt" is to test whether we have the votes to impeach Gonzales. We need 66 votes, but with Joementum in our caucus and Senator Johnson still recuperating, that means we're looking for 18 votes from Republicans on Wednesday, assuming the rest of our caucus remains loyal (hopefully, the Blue Dogs will look at the way Gonzales and Bush used and abused Pryor's bipartisan good faith, and think seriously about supporting the no confidence vote). A formidable task, certainly. But when you consider how many Republicans have already voiced their disapproval of Gonzales, are hopelessly implicated in the USA Scandal, or are up for a tough re-election in 2008, we've got plenty to work with.
Unfortunately, Senator "Colonize Your Womb for the Fatherland," Coburn, has already backed off his tough statements on Gonzales, saying that while he thinks Gonzales should resign, he would vote against a no confidence vote. I guess we know how valuable Coburn's tough talk really is.
In the meantime, here are my evolving thoughts of who, in the Republican caucus, might be persuaded to use the no confidence vote as a graceful way to escort Gonzales out of the Justice Department.
Republicans Calling for Gonzales to Leave
First, there are those Republicans who have already called for Gonzales to step down, but have not yet–like Coburn–recanted their tough talk (this list is basd on TPMM's own list along with Bond who came out against Gonzales in the interim).
Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN): Coleman is up for a tough re-election fight, after having given the collosally incompetent Rachel Paulose the green light. Since Rove–who is the guy who usually coaxes discipline out of Norm–isn't that crazy about Gonzales staying, I'd count Norm as a possible yes no confidence.
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE): Chuck Hagel wants his party back–or, more likely, to run as a third party candidate to make it act more sanely. I'm guessing him as a yes on no confidence.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ): Ah, John McCain, the "Maverick." If he votes, he'll vote yes for no confidence, and go whichever way the wind blows on impeachment, I think. Though he ought to be susceptible to pressure on account of the fact that BushCo told McCain and Kyl to fuck off regarding their one choice for USA to replace Charlton. But since McCain doesn't actually, you know, vote anymore, we probably can't rely on him.
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS): Given his statements, Roberts might vote yes on no confidence, but he's more likely to follow Coburn's cowardly example and vote no. Further, he's in Bush's back pocket and susceptible to his own implication in some of BushCo's crimes. Roberts is up for re-election in 2008, but Kansas has not been impacted by the USA Scandal, which would make it hard to pressure him.
Sen. John Sununu (R-NH): It'll be a tough, tough re-election fight for Sununu in 2008, particularly without the benefit of phone-jamming to lower turnout. So I think Sununu might vote yes on no confidence. And if he balks, his pro-civil liberties constituents ought to point out that Gonzales was responsible for implementing an illegal extension to the domestic spying program.
Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR): Smith, like Sununu, has a really tough re-election fight in 2008. So he might vote yes on no confidence.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL): Normally, I'd say Sessions would do whatever Bush told him to do (indeed, at one point he was getting talking points from DOJ on this matter). But he is a former USA. Also, one of Alabama's USAs was on the firing list at one point, though perhaps for cause (he was being investigated internally). I say he might vote yes on no confidence, though he'd follow the prevailing wind on impeachment.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): Someone who has called for Gonzales' resignation, often believes in the rule of law, and sometime cares about civil liberties, he may vote yes on no confidence.
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA): Specter will water down the no confidence language, then vote yes on it. But, since Specter has never met a courageous decision he didn't run from, he'll almost certainly vote "present" or "Scottish Haggis" or some such nonsense on impeachment.
Bond: Missouri is knee-deep in the USA scandal, and we know BushCo overrode Bond's wishes when he asked for Todd Graves to be kept on long enough to finish some cases. Yesterday, Bond said "The president might decide that the current leadership remaining at DOJ is doing more harm than good." And Bond is very close to John Ashcroft who, as it turns out, was 10 times the AG that Gonzales is. He might be persuaded to vote yes on no confidence, though he'll be much tougher to sell on a vote for impeachment.
Moderates and Reality-Based Conservatives
While these guys have so far refrained from telling Gonzales to go, they are also the Senators who, from time to time, exhibit some independence or rationality. Who knows? We might pick up some of these votes.
Grassley: Grassley, in particular, has been outspoken against Gonzales on the SJC committee (his Sampson questions were the ones interrupted by Republican attempt to shut down the Sampson hearing).
Snowe, Collins: Maine's USA was on the firing list at one point–making ME's Senators persuadable. Collins, who has a real challenge in 2008, is most likely to vote yes on a no confidence vote, though she'd surely do the partisan thing if it came to impeachment anytime soon.
Gregg: Another Republican in an increasingly blue state, he might vote yes on no confidence because of NH's fondness for civil liberties.
Alexander: Sometimes does the rational thing.
Warner: Sometimes does the rational thing, plus is retiring, so he doesn't owe anyone any favors.
Lugar: Sometimes does the rational thing. And heck–if they're really talking about sending him to the World Bank, he would have a good deal of freedom himself.
Murkowski: AK is a special case, since BushCo refused both Murkowski's and Stevens' choice for USA. Turns out an immediate family member of both (daddy in Murkowski's case, son in Stevens') may be implicated in the AK-sized Republican corruption in AK, so Murkowski may vote yes on both to avoid any scandal taint.
Voinovich: Voinovich should be on a list of possible yes votes on both.
Nutcase Republicans Implicated in the Scandal
Then there are the nutcases and Koolaid drinkers. While I don't expect these guys to vote yes on a no confidence vote, they might think more seriously about it if constituents reminded them how implicated the scandal they are. And if not, it'd be fun to keep reminding them of it.
Domenici: Faces real ethical and legal problems because of his involvement. Normally, he'd do whatever BushCo told him to do, but he might vote yes on both to avoid looking like he's scared. Particularly with a re-election bid coming up.
Stevens: As I said, Stevens' son is involved in an AK-sized corruption scandal. Stevens's choice was ignored for USA last year, in what would have been a timely USA appoint to fix Ben's scandal. Plus, Stevens is up for re-election. Probable no votes, but you never know.
Kyl: Kyl has expressed mixed feelings about Charlton's firing. And BushCo rejected Kyl's and McCain's one choice for USA. For both of those reasons, Kyl ought to be reminded that his actions–and Gonzales' actions–have hurt AZ and hurt Senatorial privilege.
Ensign: Ensign was pretty pissed about the way Bogden was treated. I think he could–and should–be pressured to vote yes on both no confidence and impeachment.
Anyway, as I said, it's a formidable task to move any of these Republicans by Wednesday. But if you happen to be one of their constituents, you might call them and emphasize how badly Bush screwed your state over with his USA Purge shenanigans. And in case your Republican Senator actually believes in civil liberties, you might stress
that Gonzales tried to gut our civil liberties at the expense of a good Christian lying in the ICU.