This week, lawmakers questioned Attorney General-nominee Michael Mukasey's stance on torture tactics and Democratic presidential hopefuls stepped up attacks on front-runner Sen. Hillary Clinton. Analysts Mark Shields and Rich Lowry discuss the week's developments.
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And to the analysis of Shields and Lowry, syndicated columnist Mark Shields and National Review editor Rich Lowry. David Brooks is off this evening.
And in just the last few hours, Mark, three notable names stepping forward on the Mukasey nomination, Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont, a "no," Senator Dianne Feinstein of California and Chuck Schumer of New York, a "yes." Does he get to 10 and get out of committee?
MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:
I think he does. I think that the Feinstein and Schumer support are key to it, Ray. What's fascinating is I think there was a calculation made.
Obviously, Chuck Schumer of New York is Mukasey's original sponsor, so he was in somewhat of an awkward position, but because of the brouhaha, the unresolved answers on waterboarding, waterboarding sort of became — and I hate the term waterboarding, because it sounds like surfboarding or skiing or something, and it's forced simulated drowning, where the prisoner experiences the same sensation of drowning. That became central to the debate.
I think the calculation was that Mukasey was the best they were going to get, that the Justice Department is just in deplorable shape, that the morale is very low, and that President Bush, if denied Mukasey, would come up with somebody, quite frankly, who would be acting attorney general and far less acceptable to the majority of the Senate.
First off, Rich, you agree generally that he's going to get out of committee?
RICH LOWRY, Editor, National Review:
Yes, he'll definitely get out of committee. And the rumor was all week that Schumer was going to support him, but didn't want to be the only Democrat on that committee to support him, wanted someone to hold his hand for the vote, and he got Dianne Feinstein apparently to do that.