But, as with any weather forecast, there’s always a chance of showers.
Here’s the math: After the Senate acts on the 14 agreed-upon judges, there are eight more already teed up for a full Senate vote. An additional eight are in the Senate Judiciary Committee pipeline. And that panel’s chairman, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), says he’ll begin work on 11 more judges in the next few weeks.
That’s a total of 41 potentially approved judges.
If the Senate does, in fact, approve them all, Obama’s number of confirmed judges will stand at 172.
To put that in perspective, by the end of May in their respective first terms, George W. Bush had 175 judges approved, and Bill Clinton had 183. Which would mean Obama’s administration would still lag behind his predecessors’, but not by much.
Is it likely? Well, first off, Obama’s number could go higher, if the White House sends more nominees to the Senate — and if the chamber acts quickly (straight faces, please).
More likely, the number will be lower, maybe much lower, given the contentious air circulating around Washington these days. And the chances of Obama’s catching up to his predecessors’ total first-term confirmations (203 for Clinton and 204 for Bush) are slim.
Especially since the skies tend to darken considerably the closer an election gets.
The Baghdad beat
Word is the administration has penciled in
Brett H. McGurk
, who served on Bush’s National Security Council staff and has been a special adviser to Obama, to be the next ambassador to Iraq.
McGurk, a former law clerk for the late Chief Justice
William H. Rehnquist
, was senior director for Iraq and Afghanistan in the Bush White House and a lawyer with the ill-fated Coalition Provisional Authority and the embassy in Baghdad in 2004 and 2005, handling matters such as constitutional reform and elections.
During the current administration, McGurk continued to handle an Iraq portfolio as top adviser to ambassadors Ryan Crocker and Christopher Hill in Baghdad. He had also been lead negotiator on agreements with the Iraqis for withdrawal of U.S. troops and for future bilateral relations, according to an official biography.
Sources say McGurk, more recently an international affairs fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations, has a very good relationship with Prime Minister
— something that is seen as increasingly important of late given the substantially diminished U.S. influence in the country.
The possible appointment, first reported by Laura Rozen at Yahoo News, would have McGurk replacing veteran diplomat
James F. Jeffrey
, who is retiring after a 35-year career in the Foreign Service.