NOTE:  We have a live chat with ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer today at 3 pm ET/12 pm PT.

Honestly, why on earth do they let John Cornyn anywhere near a reporter to pretend to discuss anything substantive?

"I just don’t think she’s qualified for the job," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. "First of all, she’s an ideologue … she has actually questioned whether we are actually at war against terrorists. She questioned whether the wartime paradigm that the president is the commander-in-chief was the appropriate framework of analysis for determining what the president’s powers are during a time of war."

I can see how Dawn’s years of work at OLC, where she was universally respected by her colleagues and even opposing politicos and commenters, and did an exemplary job already running the office as acting head for a year and a half would make her seem really unqualified to Mr. Empty Hair. Especially when he and his cronies can lie about her record and have too few people call them out on it.

But having Cornyn call her an ideologue after his garbled kabuki shows the last few years?   Beyond laughable.

Cornyn is the poster boy for "whatever you want, Mr. Cheney."

What’s Cornyn’s real beef — and that of the GOP establishment? That Dawn supports the rule of law.  That she takes the job and her responsibilities in it seriously, meaning that she isn’t the sort of person who puts shortcuts and shading to further personal ambitions ahead of doing the right thing and following the written precedents. 

In other words, unlike some people, Dawn isn’t the kind of gal who can be bought off or shut up. And Cornyn no likey that.  This is all about GOP CYA and the kabuki to cover it.

Why is OLC important?  I’ll let ACS’ Peter Shane explain:

Perhaps the most important reason we have government lawyers is to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed” even when laws are ambiguous and especially when no one is looking. If the rule of law is to have any meaning, government lawyers playing an advisory function must take a relatively objective stance….It is critical that government lawyers remember that their “client” is the American people, and not the ephemeral roster of incumbent federal officer holders.

There it is in a nutshell:  putting the public’s interest ahead of political kabuki.  Hence the fear and stall tactics from Cornyn and company:

The pressure to kill the Johnsen nomination may become even stronger now that President Obama has released more OLC memos detailing the CIA’s abusive interrogation tactics last week.

Let’s not let them get away with it.  The stakes are too high.

Please call or FAX Harry Reid’s office and tell him to get on the ball and schedule a vote for Dawn Johnsen: Phone: 202-224-3542 / Fax: 202-224-7327. It is well past time that Democratic leadership started leading on this.

Please call your Senators today. Tell them to vote YES on cloture and to vote YES on Dawn’s nomination.

The rule of law cannot take a back seat to political manipulation. And it’s past time these people realized that.

Here’s the tally thus far — not nearly good enough:

Bingaman: Staffer is “[n]ot aware of Senator Bingaman’s position.”

Boxer: Staffer didn’t know.

Brown: Hasn’t made up his mind yet.

Byrd: Staffer didn’t know.

Cornyn: No (although the local office thinks he may be listening to constituents).

Feinstein: Hasn’t made up her mind on first call. Second call to her office staffer says she intends to vote for Johnsen.

Hutchinson: Hasn’t made her wishes known publicly.

Nelson, Ben: Doesn’t think he can support her, but may vote for cloture.

Rockefeller: Staffer didn’t know.

Udall: Staffer says "“Senator Udall hasn’t taken a position,” but she sounded happy that I called in support.

Voinavich: No public statement on this as yet.

Whitehouse: I know for certain he’s supporting Dawn’s nomination, so good for him.

UPDATE:  Lautenberg:  No position as yet.

Menendez:  No position as yet.

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com