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In the Loop: 'The Clinton Tapes' Relives the 1990s

The book is 700 pages long, and Clinton often talks about trade and budget issues and other proven eye-glazers, but Branch, author of "Parting the Waters," keeps things moving nicely. And with Clinton, who in 1998 compared Osama bin Laden to a transnational James Bond movie villain, it's hard to have a really dull moment.


Attention, all you lawyers out there aspiring to leave dull legal careers for a life on the federal bench. If the White House doesn't get your name up to the Senate in the next couple weeks or so, your odds of getting confirmed this year, especially for a prized seat on an appeals court, are slim indeed. (Unless, of course, you're related to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.)

No, your problem is not just the poisonous political environment or the Senate's focus on health-care reform. It's history. It's not on your side. A review of nominees in the first terms of recent presidents illustrates the situation.

President Ronald Reagan was able to nominate a judge as late as Dec. 7, 1981, for a district court seat and Nov. 18 for an appellate seat and get them confirmed. But remember: That was Reagan, and the GOP controlled the Senate (and when the Republicans are in the majority, they really do control the Senate).

In 1989, George H.W. Bush's last confirmed district judge was nominated on Halloween and his last appeals judge was nominated Sept. 21.

Clinton's last confirmed appeals court judge was nominated on Aug. 6, 1993, though he managed to get a district judge nominated Nov. 1 confirmed on Nov. 20, 1993.

As for George W. Bush -- remember, the Republicans lost their majority in May 2001 -- his last confirmed appeals judge was nominated Sept. 4 of that year and his last confirmed district judge was nominated Oct. 9.

So get moving filling out those forms.

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