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Bennett: GOP Can be "Principled" in Going Nuclear

Reported by Judy - April 27, 2005

Bill Bennett, former U.S. Education Secretary and author of a book on virtue, offered a strange definition of acting based on principle Wednesday (April 27) during an appearance on The Big Story with John Gibson.

Judge Andrew Napolitano interviewed Bennett about plans of Republican leaders in the Senate to do away with the right to unlimited debate on judicial nominees. Bennett said Republicans should restrict debate, but "do it on a principled basis," which he said meant, "Should there be a Democratic majority" the Republicans will be governed by the same principle.

Note that Bennett did not say that Republicans would agree to a limit on debate should there by a Democratic president trying to appoint judges that Republicans don't like or that they would confirm judges nominated by a Democratic president. Only that if the Republicans are in the minority in the Senate, the Democratic majority can keep the same unfair rules that Republicans are trying to impose now. That's really principled. If you let me run roughshod over your rights now, should you ever get back in power, I realize I won't have a leg to stand on to prevent you from running roughshod over me. What virtue is that?

Bennett the compulsive gambler is betting that Bush will win the fight over the confirmation of John Bolton as UN ambassador. "If the president leans in hard, they'll get him," he said. Bennett sees the Democratic opposition to Bolton as purely a proxy fight over Bush's foreign policy, overlooking the fact that the Democrats already have confirmed others to carry out that foreign policy who don't have the baggage that Bolton carries with him.

Bennett said the loss of both the Bolton nomination and the filibuster issue in the Senate could make Bush a weak lame duck president. "This is an important time for the president. If he loses one or two of these fights in a big way, after social security, which seems to be in trouble, it will be a long second term. So this is a critical moment for the president," Bennett said.

That's an interesting comment, since Senate rules are supposed to be Senate rules and not the president's rules, and Bush has said he would stay out of the debate over Senate rules. Are Republicans such lock-step followers of their president that they let him run Congress now, too?

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