Earlier today, President Bush officially nominated retired federal judge Michael Mukasey to replace Alberto Gonzales as the nation’s Attorney General. Fearing an outcry on the right, the Bush administration first leaked word of Mukasey’s nomination to necon ally Bill Kristol, who cautioned conservatives to “hold their fire” and “support the president.”
Though most are “holding their fire,” some prominent voices in the conservative movement are vocally expressing skepticism about Bush’s choice:
– “Michael B. Mukasey: The Second Coming of Harriet Miers?,” said a headline on the Jawa Report today.
– “It also isn’t obvious that he has the management or political skills to run an institution as big and unwieldy as DoJ – the same shortcoming that arguably led to Judge Gonzales’ difficulties,” a conservative lawyer told the National Review’s Kathryn Jean Lopez.
– Kathy at HangRightPolitics wrote “I feel somewhat deflated over the choice. Why is it that every time I see the word consensus used by a liberal I read ‘surrender?'”
– “I am not prepared to delude myself into believing that Mukasey was the best choice,” wrote the Corner’s Mark Levin today.
– A right-wing Catholic group, Fidelis, “voiced serious concerns” about Mukasey, citing his “1994 denial of asylum for a Chinese man who said his wife had been forced to have an abortion under that country’s one-child law, which they say indicates he’s weak on pro-life issues.”
– The AP reports that “some legal conservatives and Republicans have expressed reservations about Mukasey’s legal record and past endorsements and said some groups have been drafting a strategy to oppose him.”
The extreme right appears concerned that Mukasey may not be as willing to tow the Bush administration line as Alberto Gonzales or perhaps Ted Olson. Given the the urgent need to repair a disheveled Department of Justice in the wake of Gonzales’ departure, Mukasey is a sound pick that should engender bipartisan support.
Progressives, however, should press hard to demand that Mukasey practice true independence at the Justice Department. During his confirmation hearing, his opinions on torture, wiretapping, and the role of politics at the DoJ should all be put under serious scrutiny. A central question must be would he have said “NO” where Alberto Gonzales said yes?