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Supreme Knowledge

   Enough Lamenting the Past. It's time for our daily dose of Predicting the Future.

   In the past 24 hours, I have had conversations with two lawyers, one a Democrat who worked on the selection of a Supreme Court justice for a previous president, the other a Republican who worked on judge selection for this president but is no longer working with the administration.

   One of these lawyers argues that Bush will choose his pal Alberto Gonzales because that is the most quintessentially Bush thing to do--reward loyalty, stand with his friend, stand up to kneejerk opposition, do it because it's the resolute and strong thing to do.

   The other lawyer argues that Bush will turn to whichever of the candidates is most reliably hardcore conservative in the Clarence Thomas mode. The instinct will be to spurn any of the judges who seem overly intellectual (and therefore likely to go off on his own train of legal thinking in the decades to come) and go for someone who is driven by partisan political convictions.

   Both of the lawyers agree that the third scenario, in which Bush selects a moderate conservative because as a lame duck with declining popularity and a strong need to assure Republican success in the mid-term elections, he must steer clear of ideological purity.

   The fact that these gents agree on that last point is significant. The rest is rank speculation, but of course we live in The Age of Rank Speculation. And the Official Rules of Washington require a summer guessing game or a summer disaster, and given the choice, I think we'll all take the former.

   For what it's worth, and that would be less than the value of a single M&M (which, I've long argued, would be simply an M), I predict he picks Michael Luttig, a former Scalia clerk and now a federal appeals court judge. 

--Marc Fisher

By Joel Achenbach  |  July 6, 2005; 4:20 PM ET
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Next: Fisher Out. Next Victim.


It's a scary world when alberto gonzales would be a relief - the same guy who thinks torturing folks is a-okay.

Posted by: LP | July 6, 2005 4:32 PM | Report abuse

A green M&M or a brown one?

You know, I'm all about moderate, thoughtful and non-rabidly-hardline-anything judges on the Supreme Court. I'd like to think everyone (including the President and all future holders of that sacred office) would feel the same, but I'd be deluding myself.

Posted by: toady | July 6, 2005 4:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm all in favor of the Gonzales kid...

Posted by: alberto | July 6, 2005 4:57 PM | Report abuse

The green m&m is hot.

Posted by: jw | July 6, 2005 5:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm partial to the yellow dude from the Lamisil ads, myself.

Posted by: Achenfan | July 6, 2005 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Eh, all the good options aren't famous enough, especially in Bush-world, to even be noticed. I don't think Bush should just appoint his friends (like Gonzales). He should pick somebody he respects and trusts the judgement of who isn't currently/never was employed in a Bush administration.

M&Ms are good, too. I don't think it's possible to eat a single M&M and still stay sane, so the question of "M&M" vs "M" isn't necessary.

Posted by: Rob Parks | July 6, 2005 5:45 PM | Report abuse

I was at a bbq, and they had a M&M mix...right out of the bag! Peanut, plain, was heaven! Only downside was that there weren't any green ones...just red, white, and blue.

Posted by: jw | July 6, 2005 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Marc, you gotta learn the way things Joel did...instead of saying your opinion is worth a single M, you need to BET the select group of 15 that it will be Luttig. Then, if you lose, you have to buy a round of drinks for us at the Round Robin Bar.

Posted by: edward | July 6, 2005 6:39 PM | Report abuse


I expected that we would gang up on you and tell you every day, "That's not what Joel would do." But most of us have resisted the temptation [listening, edward?] Anyway, regardless of your non-Joel-ness, nobody can deny that you have been THERE for us--thanks! Interesting posts and insider information. Good job.

I almost hesitate to mention that your sixth sentence above is entirely missing its predicate. But if Tom fan's not going to do it, I guess I needed to step up.

Posted by: kbertocci | July 6, 2005 7:06 PM | Report abuse

The sixth sentence? The one with "instinct" as apparent subject? The predicate is Bush from the previous sentence and it's clear as a spring sky in Washington, however you might wish to take that.
But thanks for the love and the caring. And I mean that.

Posted by: Marc Fisher | July 6, 2005 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Ugh, I don't want to go again with the Hispanics telling Alberto gonzales is not Hispanic enough because he is a Cuban and God forgives him for being a Hispanic republican.

Posted by: fdg31 | July 6, 2005 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I wouldn't bet on the White House doing the most popular thing.

There's probably a bit of a conflict in there re. SCJ Noms, with one side preferring to go more moderate (as Marc points out) to ease the mid-term elections and Jeb's run for Prez in 08, and the other side looking at sticking to principles and ideology (Don't think that Rove and W didn't notice that Reagan was voted the Greatest American. We're talking legacy here, people...). Obviously, that last would move the SC a bit further to the right.


Posted by: bc | July 7, 2005 9:01 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Marc about the sixth sentence. (Even if I didn't, I probably wouldn't have said anything; I try not to attack anyone but Joel -- and I mean that in the nicest possible way.) He could have said "His instinct" instead of "The instinct," but then some might argue that "His" would be misread as applying to "The other lawyer" (not likely, of course). And he could have said "Bush's instinct," but that wouldn't have sounded as smooth. Not to mention the fact that Bush probably won't make this decision on his own, which means "The" is probably the most accurate choice.
(Gee, aren't I an interesting person?!?!?)
So, to summarize, I give the sub an A for grammar.

Posted by: Tom fan | July 7, 2005 9:17 AM | Report abuse

I think kbertocci was referring to this sentence, and he's right:
Both of the lawyers agree that the third scenario, in which Bush selects a moderate conservative because as a lame duck with declining popularity and a strong need to assure Republican success in the mid-term elections, he must steer clear of ideological purity.

Both lawyers agree what about the third scenario? Is it probable or improbable?

Sorry for pointing out the error. It's not really my style, but done quite frequently on this blog.

Posted by: TA | July 7, 2005 9:25 AM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure kbertocci is a she, not a he (as is the case with most of us fans).

Posted by: Tom fan | July 7, 2005 9:33 AM | Report abuse

A human being, first and foremost. Apparently, my grammar skills are superior to my counting abilities. But I knew that.

Thanks, TA, for reading my mind.

Posted by: kbertocci | July 7, 2005 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Sorry if I got your gender wrong. I will keep in mind that most of us our women. Maybe we could start posting our sex after our names, such as: TA (F), or TA lady, or TA high heels...

Posted by: TA | July 7, 2005 10:13 AM | Report abuse

obviously, my comment was made in jest. joel has never bought the select group of 15 drinks at the round robin, to the best of my knowledge.

besides, marc won my respect after his column on half-smokes. he's got nothing to prove.

Posted by: edward | July 7, 2005 10:28 AM | Report abuse

It is an interesting commentary on DC that no one from outside the region knows what a half-smoke is.

Posted by: jw | July 7, 2005 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Hell, I'm *from* the region and I don't know what a half-smoke is (except from what I've read in the Post). It could be that whole treif thing, though, I guess... I strongly suspect they're pork. Wouldn't know.

M&Ms are still kosher. So's our substitute blogger.

Posted by: toady | July 7, 2005 10:59 AM | Report abuse

While we wait for our next guest blogger, here's a question to ponder: How long will it be before the word "like" completely overtakes spoken English, and we lose the ability to converse? Listening to groups of teens and 20-somethings on the Metro and in various other settings, I've noticed that, in general, every fourth word is "like." Using "like" seems to be a very catchy habit that is difficult to break. How are we ever going to eradicate it at this point? (I'm serious -- how?) As these youngsters mature and raise families of their own, the "like" characteristic will only become more dominant. How long will it be before every THIRD word is "like"? Then every second word? It will only be a matter of time before we've reached the unfortunate situation in which EVERY word is "like." All conversations conducted in English will sound like (like!) an altercation between the seagulls in "Finding Nemo" ("Mine! Mine! Mine!") Like! Like! Like!
I wonder if a similar phenomenon can be observed in non-English-speaking societies? And I'm not being facetious here (well, maybe a little . . .). I really do wonder about this.

Posted by: Achenfan | July 7, 2005 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Re: Achenfan

I am a twenty something and the overabundance of 'like' in speech is annoying (though not quite disturbing) to me as well.

In one of the last courses I took in college we were required to give short (>5 minute) speeches every couple weeks or so. One girl had a habit of using the word 'like' about every three words. I found myself keeping count of the 'like' hits per speech instead of listening to her content. And I don't believe I could listen to her again without being absorbed in the number of 'like's.

I think this is just one of those things that will work itself out eventually. Homo Sapiens have been managing to do ok for several hundred thousand years or so. And I would venture that for the vast majority of that time elder generations have been asking how the world will survive when left to those lazy youngsters.

Posted by: Dawaldg | July 7, 2005 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for weighing in, Dawaldg. You make a good (and encouraging) point. And you know, I should add that there are many times when I encounter a teen or 20-something and think, Wow, that person is so much more mature and together than I was at that age! So yes, I think the world will definitely survive.

Posted by: Achenfan | July 8, 2005 8:56 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: H | December 8, 2005 4:36 PM | Report abuse

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