Democratic senators have been lambasting President Bush's nominee for attorney general, White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales, for his role in developing aggressive administration policies for the detention and interrogation of suspected terrorists. But most have said they would vote to confirm him anyway. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) broke with his colleagues yesterday and said on television that he is "leaning against" supporting Gonzales at the moment.
Kennedy said on CBS's "Face the Nation" that he had not been satisfied with the nominee's answers at his Jan. 6 confirmation hearing, where Gonzales said the administration will not tolerate torture but defended his conclusion that the protections of the Geneva Conventions do not apply to alleged terrorists.
"He had conversations with the Justice Department; he couldn't remember those," Kennedy said. "He couldn't remember many different kinds of facts. . . . This nominee is the principal architect, it appears, for the development of the changes in the Geneva Convention, and torture. And he has an opportunity in response to these questions to explain it. I don't think he did."
A Senate Democratic leadership aide said that when the Judiciary Committee meets this week, Democrats are considering invoking a committee rule to postpone consideration of the Gonzales nomination for a week because they have not yet received answers to follow-up questions they have submitted to him.
But the aide, who declined to be identified because it is not the leaders' policy to announce their strategy, said Gonzales would still eventually be confirmed. The aide said that although the Democrats have policy differences with Gonzales, they have found nothing that would automatically disqualify him.
Podcasting for the Democrats' Future
Blogs are so 2004. This year, the cutting-edge candidate podcasts.
Donnie Fowler, one of a half-dozen politicos vying to succeed Democratic National Committee Chairman Terence R. McAuliffe, last week became the first candidate to dip his toe into the obscure world of podcasting.
The term refers to the increasingly popular practice of creating audio recordings of, well, most anything and distributing them online. Scores of podcasters, often using little more than a computer and a microphone, have posted recordings of themselves discussing everything from the news to insects to the Bible. It is, essentially, amateur radio without the radio. Their files can be found on Web sites such as Podcast.net or iPodder.org, where they can be heard or downloaded onto digital audio players such as Apple's iPod.
But until recently, all of that has been the exclusive province of tech geeks. Fowler, who released a seven-minute clip promoting his candidacy -- and who plans to release new ones each week -- said it is just one more way to reach supporters. "Different voters get their political information and cues from different sources," he said. "The Democratic Party needs to talk to voters where they are."
Although few of the 447 DNC members who will vote next month on McAuliffe's successor may download Fowler's podcasts, he said the podcasts demonstrate that he would be a tech-friendly chair. And who knows? Maybe, he said, podcasts will be the next blogs, the hot new Web tool for campaigns.
"It's sort of like what blogging was two years ago," Fowler said. "The earlier Democrats get in on the new avenues, the better they're going to be able to master them."
"I think he lost because we had a failed strategy in rural America."
Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), a native of the tiny town of Searchlight, Nev., on ABC's "This Week," regarding the presidential campaign of Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.).