It’s probably good it’s full because if it were clean, he’d see his mug staring back up at him. But, here we go — a random menu of the peas, the blood-dripping meat, the mashed squash, and unjust desserts:

  • President Faces Supreme Dilemma” trumpets today’s Wall Street Journal (sub. only). “Bush’s Next Choice for High Court May Come Down to Which Side He Needs to Please Most,” says the subtitle. “We don’t want a stealth candidate,” announces the old John Birch bag, Phyllis “Shaft ‘Em” Schlafly.

    [Here’s a key “backgrounder” section, and a reminder that the WSJ reporter pages are pretty darn good.] Circumstances have changed significantly since Mr. Bush nominated Judge Roberts in July. Back then, the president’s energy bill was headed toward passage, the outlines of an Iraq constitution were emerging, and the deficit picture was brightening. Today, gas prices are at record highs, Iraq’s insurgency persists, and the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina is being criticized on Capitol Hill. While Democrats pounced on the government’s initial slow response, economic conservatives have balked at Mr. Bush’s decision to approve so much spending to rebuild the Gulf Coast.

    With the president eager to marshal support on Capitol Hill, much hinges on his decision. This nomination “not only affects the court, it affects the whole relationship with Congress” and possibly the course of other legislative priorities, says pollster Richard B. Wirthlin, a former Reagan political strategist. “There are other battles he’s got to keep an eye on.”

    Ah, the candidate from whom all blessings may or may not flow. (More on those possible choices below the fold.)

  • And Nag has this “just in” bad news for Dubya: “Judge Releases Abu Ghraib Photos.” Will Bush and Rummie appeal, or find a new excuse to balk? They’ll have to!

  • Then there’s big horsey white woman Karen Hughes gallivanting about the Middle East, providing what Sidney Blumenthal (via Pat Lang) says is “the exact proof for what Osama bin Laden has claimed about American motives.”

    “It is stunning … the extent [to which] Hughes is helping bin Laden,” Robert Pape [a University of Chicago political scientist who recently briefed the Pentagon and the National Counterterrorism Center] told me. “If you set out to help bin Laden,” he said, “you could not have done it better than Hughes.”

  • And there’s the peculiar confluence of the National Enquirer story about Bush’s drinking and the rehiring of Michael “Brownie” Brown as a consultant, noted by both Atrios and Alternet’s PEEK.

    “according to sources within the Enquirer itself, the source for Bush’s drinking story is — an incredibly pissed-off, recently scapegoated head of a federal agency who thinks that BushCo. done him wrong.”

  • Then there are other little morsels like “mafia-style contract killings now entering the mix” in the Jack Abramoff scandal that point to “a vast criminal enterprise involving every facet of the Bush Administration.”

  • Taste the smorgasboard and don’t forget this is always a potluck! Bring your own favorites, and dish!

More from the WSJ on Bush’s Supreme choices:

For an all-out fight with Democrats, he could choose “Fifth Circuit Judge Edith Jones, who has publicly urged the Supreme Court to rethink its abortion-rights ruling; Tenth Circuit Judge Michael McConnell, who has called for a constitutional amendment overturning it, or Fifth Circuit Judge Priscilla Owen, who has a record of supporting restricted access to abortion …” or ” Fourth Circuit Judge Michael Luttig or Third Circuit Judge Samuel Alito. Both have written opinions upholding restrictions on abortion that came short of challenging the Supreme Court on Roe.”

Or he could “reprise the tone” of the Roberts hearings, and nominate “by nominating Michigan Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan, Ninth Circuit Judge Consuelo M. Callahan or Larry Thompson, the former deputy attorney general and now a corporate attorney. All have conservative credentials but no substantial record on abortion rights. … Mr. Bush also could prompt criticism from the left and right by nominating Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.”

Enter Susan Collins:

Meanwhile, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a party moderate, has urged Mr. Bush to name a Roberts-like candidate who will express respect for precedents such as Roe v. Wade.

“The president is going through a difficult time, and I’m confident he will get through it,” she says. “If he chooses a nominee who has the kind of credentials that John Roberts has, it would be very well received, and that’s been my advice to him through aides.” If the president goes the other way, “that would concern me,” she said.

The White House is paying attention to concerns of moderates such as Ms. Collins because it will need nearly all Republican senators on its side if Democrats resist the next nominee and wage a filibuster.

If that were to happen, the Senate likely would see a return of the spring standoff between the parties with Republicans threatening to exercise the “nuclear option”: rewriting Senate rules to prohibit filibusters of judicial candidates. A bipartisan deal among 14 senators including Ms. Collins brought the chamber back from that brink. But Mr. Bush knows that he risks returning the Senate to that point by nominating someone committed to overturning Roe v. Wade.

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