This came up two months ago, when McCain went so far as to boast about his votes to confirm Ginsburg and Breyer to a bunch of Hillary supporters and Kaus predicted a rightosphere meltdown that never happened. Now Taegan Goddard wants to try again. Here’s the clip from Saddleback.

Goddard: “It seems he was for them before he was against them.” True enough, if you believe every vote by a Democrat or Republican to confirm an opposing party’s nominee is tantamount to saying they’d have nominated that person themselves. (Do note, Scalia was confirmed 98-0.) I feel stupid even having to point out that the considerations that inform a yes/no decision in the Senate — “is this candidate acceptable?” — are entirely different from the unlimited possibilities a president has when choosing a nominee — “is this the best candidate we can find?” — but I guess I have to for Goddard’s benefit, so there you go. Beyond the dopey gotcha here, though, lies a serious point. I actually like the fact that McCain voted to confirm Ginsburg and Breyer, not because I have any use for either of them but because his vote was obviously based on legal qualifications, not an ideological litmus test. Conservatives have suffered grievously from the politicization of the confirmation process (a point I made in the earlier post) and will only have it worse as Congress turns a deeper blue. Having clean hands in this regard gives President McCain moral leverage with the Senate vis-a-vis his own nominees and political leverage over Obama right now as proof that he was being the true bipartisan pol while Barry O was busy voting against someone as ostentatiously qualified as John Roberts. I understand why his campaign isn’t making a bigger deal of these votes, but as the base comes around (which should be easier post-Saddleback) he can venture further out on the limb in mentioning them. Provided they’re carefully qualified, of course.

Exit question: What significance is there, if any, to the fact that Joe Lieberman’s now willing to go on record as saying he should have voted to confirm Alito? Hmmmmmm.

Tags: Barack Obama