Noted with approval: Sen. Reid Says He’ll Vote Against Roberts:

“This is a very close question for me. But I must resolve my doubts in favor of the American people whose rights would be in jeopardy if John Roberts turned out to be the wrong person for the job,” [Reid] said.

Referring to publicly released memos that date to Robert’s tenure as a Reagan administration lawyer, Reid said they showed the young attorney “played a significant role in shaping and advancing the Republican agenda to roll back civil rights protections.” …

Reid also said Roberts followed a “disingenuous strategy” at the confirmation hearings of suggesting that the views in the memos were not his own. …

“The failure of the White House to produce relevant documents is reason enough for any senator to oppose this nomination. The administration cannot treat the Senate with such disrespect without some consequences,” Reid said.

Reid’s remarks pleased leaders of women’s organizations and civil rights groups who outlined the case against Roberts at a closed door meeting with the Democratic leader last week. According to participants in the meeting, they also said they wanted to run up as many votes against Roberts as possible, in part to try and show Bush he would be risking a fierce fight if he named a more conservative nominee than Roberts to replace Sandra Day O’Connor. …

Beyond that, Reid said he would view it as a “poke in the eye with a sharp stick” if Bush were to nominate any of the 10 appeals court nominees that Democrats blocked in recent years, including some who were later confirmed.

Kudos to Reid for standing up for principle.  He knows that even if there aren’t enough votes to block Roberts’ nomination, it’s important not to simply roll over and rubber-stamp Bush’s choices.  Remember David Mamet’s column from last week?  Reid knows how to play political poker.

Chuck Schumer, on the other hand, has completely missed the point:

He indicated that conservative Senators including Coburn believe Roberts will uphold Roe v. Wade.

He seemed inclined to vote for Roberts and to present an image of “reasonableness” though he said he is still undecided.  The momentum seemed to be in favor keeping the powder dry for the “O’Connor” replacement.

Schumer polled the room and the overwhelming majority supported voting for Roberts as a way of keeping our powder dry.

What idiots.  You don’t win in today’s Washington by “keeping your powder dry”.  That’s bad advice — the kind of advice that comes from proven losers (like Kerry’s campaign staff, who told him not to fight back against the Swift Boat Liars), and from active enemies of the Democratic Party (like Karl Rove).  Why on earth should we listen to these people?.

Establishment Dems like Schumer are shackled by the belief that their “powder” is a limited resource that must be hoarded against a rainy day sometime off in the future.  The Republicans in the White House and Congress, on the other hand, blast away at every moving target they can see.  And let’s be clear — by “powder” we’re not talking about money (which is a finite, but renewable, resource) or actual governmental power (which Dems obviously have less of).  I’m talking about exerting political influence.  

You don’t have to control any branch of government, or have more money than the other team, to exert influence.  You exert influence by what you say, and by what you do, whatever your current situation is.  Influence is not a finite resource that is gone when used.  If you believe it is, you will always be a loser.  Did Newt Gingrich take Congress for the GOP by “keeping his powder dry”?  I think not.  The Rule of Political Influence is: Use it or lose it.

Just because voting against Roberts is a losing proposition, vote-wise, doesn’t mean that voting “no” will diminish Democrats’ political capital.  Do they truly believe that voting “yes” will cause BushCo to become moderate, respectful, and conciliatory when the next nominee is picked?  Sure, Chuck, and I’ve got a bridge here in your home borough to sell you, cheap!

On the other hand, reminding your party — and the country — of what your principles are, and proving that you’ll stand up for them instead of playing another game of Washington CYA… now that’s a way to build political capital.

As I’ve said before:

The single most shocking fact of our political system is that for the past decade, the beltway Democrats have been face to face and toe to toe with an aggressive, partisan GOP, and have watched that party win almost total power in Washington with an attack-dog, take-no-prisoners attitude — and yet the Dems have neither learned from nor emulated it.

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