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Frog-Marching Time for Rove?

"Anyone who reads the paper or watches television is going to hear a lot of snarky criticism of Judith Miller in the coming days and weeks as she sits alone in a jail cell. You're going to hear about her personality quirks, her past mistakes as a journalist, even her perceived ulterior motives to enrich her career.

"All you really need to consider is this: If you were a government employee with a nagging conscience, if you had secret records that would expose corruption or lies at the highest levels, if your job was on the line and you needed to find a journalist whose promises you could trust with your life -- who would you call today: Matt Cooper and Time magazine, or Judith Miller and The New York Times?"

Times Editor Bill Keller, by the way, told me that criticism of Miller was "repellent" and coming from the "partisan fringe."

Romenesko has a pungent exchange between Keller and LAT op-ed editor Nick Goldberg, who was seeking a response for this Mike Kinsley column on Miller's plight.

GOLDBERG: "He's written various other pieces of the same sort since then and has another coming out tomorrow that once again states his position that a reporters' right to protect his or her source is not necessarily more important than the government's right to get the information it needs. He specifically takes on the long NYT editorial that ran a few days ago.

"This is a bit of a long shot, but I thought that perhaps Judy Miller would like to write some kind of rejoinder (especially now that Kinsley's columns and editorials, as I understand it, are being used by the prosecutor to help make his case). Is such a thing possible? Is there a way to contact her and ask if she's interested?"

KELLER: "How clever of the Los Angeles Times to propose that Judy Miller debate Mike Kinsley on the subject of press freedom. Sadly, Judy is not on a fellowship at some writers' colony. She is in JAIL. She is sleeping on a foam mattress on the floor, and her communications are, shall we say, constrained.

"I have to tell you that Mike's contrarian intellectualizing on the subject of reporters and the law was more amusing when it was all hypothetical. Back then it was just punditry. But that was before Norm Pearlstine embraced acquiescence as corporate policy, and before Judy Miller braved the real-world discomforts of the moral high ground. Of course this is an important issue, and clever minds should wrestle with it. But at the moment Kinsley and Pearlstine seem perversely remote from the world where actual reporters work."

On to the Supreme Court--hey Novak, Rehnquist still hasn't retired!--the Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes tells the prez to hang tough:

"President Bush needs to keep two facts in mind as he looks to replace retiring Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor (and, should he step down, Chief Justice William Rehnquist). The first is that he can win confirmation of almost any conceivable nominee for the High Court, screams of protest by Democrats and hostile media coverage notwithstanding. The second is that he has a promise to keep. Since he began running for the White House six years ago, he has declared endlessly his intention to select judges who interpret the law rather than create it--in a word, conservatives. On this, he has never equivocated.

"The number 55 (or 56 if you count Vice President Cheney's vote in the event of a tie) looms large. The Senate majority of 55 Republicans limits Democrats to three possible means of blocking a conservative nominee. 1) Through a procedural maneuver like a filibuster, or by demanding documents they know the White House will never release. 2) By discovering an ethical lapse in a nominee's past. 3) By spooking the president with disingenuous calls for an O'Connor clone, or by claiming every potential conservative nominee is outside the mainstream. None of these is likely to work.

"For a filibuster to succeed, Democrats would need the cooperation of three of their seven colleagues who joined the Gang of 14 in limiting the filibuster in cases of judicial nominations. And they would need at least six of the seven Republican gang members to agree that 'extraordinary circumstances' have occurred and that a filibuster is permissible. The possibility of this happening is--well, it's all but impossible."

Finally, this doesn't sound like the most incendiary line of all time, but the New York Post says GOPers are really, well, MAD:

"Republicans yesterday blasted Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for ridiculing President Bush by comparing him to Mad magazine's mindlessly goofy Alfred E. Neuman, known for his trademark line of 'What, me worry?'

"'Hillary Clinton's opportunistic attempt to market herself as a centrist is like a wolf dressing up in sheep's clothing,' said Republican National Committee spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt. 'The truth is that Hillary is in lockstep with today's wild-eyed Democrats who have nothing to offer the American people but anger.'"


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