Bush is by far the bigger obstacle in the way of a conservative court. While Kennedy's ploy presents a temporary problem, Bush's stance could be fatal. The right's morale was devastated by the president's comments in a USA Today telephone interview published on the newspaper's front page Tuesday: ''Al Gonzales is a great friend of mine. When a friend gets attacked, I don't like it.''
Bush is a stubborn man, who sounded like he might really nominate Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in the face of deep and broad opposition from the president's own political base.
Adding to the tension is word from court sources that ailing Chief Justice William Rehnquist also will announce his retirement before the week is over. That would enable Bush to play this game: Name one justice no less conservative than Rehnquist, and name Gonzales, whose past record suggests he would replicate retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on abortion and possibly other social issues. Thus, the present ideological orientation of the court would be unchanged, which would suit the left just fine.
Recall that Novak, along with William Kristol, were correct in forecasting the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Will Novak be correct again? With Rehnquist's health questions lingering, it seems logical.
Can you imagine two concurrent nomination battles, plus a peripheral battle over the Chief Justice appointment? The horror! The drama! The intrigue! The machinations! The battle to replace Rehnquist + O'Connor, although both relatively conservative, would make the current political climate look like Wiggle Time.
A double nomination opportunity for Chimpy McPretzel! Nan Aron's head just might explode.
Oyez oyez and oyez, Will Franklin judicialcizes at WILLisms.com.