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Hugh Hewitt - Principal Contributor

Mr. Hewitt is senior member of theOneRepublic and editorial board. [go to Hewitt index]

Hold on to Specter
Conservatives should consider the consequences...
[Hugh Hewitt] 11/11/04

My anti-anti-Specter position continues to kick up dust around the blogosphere.  The estimable Peter Mulhern thinks my position is inaneAndrew Sullivan is relieved that it is sane.

I like to think of it as prudent.

Let's be very specific.  If Chief Justice Rehnquist retires, and President Bush nominates Judge J. Michael Luttig, Judge Michael W. McConnell or Judge John Roberts --my personal favorites for that post and future vacancies-- do conservatives really believe that Chairman Specter would do other than get those nominations to the floor quickly?

But if Senator Specter is punished and humbled by the surging conservative majority, do you think he would be as likely to vote for any of them in committee or for the rule change to kill any misguided Democratic filibuster?  And might he lead a revolt of the moderate GOP senators sufficient in number to block the confirmation of these or other center-right judges?

The goal is a renewed Supreme Court, not emotionally satisfying but self-defeating embarrassments of Republicans that purists classify as RINOs. (Specter has a lifetime American Conservative Union rating of 43, and hit 65 for 2003.  Patrick Leahy's lifetime score is a 6.  That's a big difference. It matters. )

I think cooler heads will prevail, but I would welcome some additional reconsiderations among my colleagues of their positions.  The focus needs to be on winning the Supreme Court in the next two years and on keeping the Senate in GOP hands in November, 2006, not on scoring points against old thorns-in-the-sides.  There has not been a single persuasive argument yet put forward on how the denial of the chairmanship to Specter would increase the likelihood of confirming President Bush's nominees.  There is a lot of speculation on how Senator Specter has been a "terrible" senator in the past and will be one in the future, but on nominations, the evidence against him consists of the vote against Bork, which is balanced by the vote for Thomas.  And Specter has supported every Bush nominee.

Jim Geraghty of KerrySpot was correct to note the civility of the debate among conservatives, and I hope it continues.  Aside from the war, nothing matters more than the make-up of the Court. I hope those urging faxes and e-mails to The Hill have truly considered that their demands, if met, could squander the opportunity that will be put before President Bush.

Jeffords, Jeffords, Jeffords.  It was not "good riddance."  It was a disaster. CRO


theOneRepublic and Principal Contributor Hugh Hewitt is an author, television commentator and syndicated talk-show host of the Salem Radio Network's Hugh Hewitt Show, heard in over 40 markets around the country. He blogs regularly at and he frequently contributes opinion pieces to the Weekly Standard.

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