The Meet the Press green room is going to be jam-packed this Sunday as Tim splits the focus of this week's show three ways. First, he'll go one-on-two with Arlen Specter and Pat Leahy, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, discussing the implications of the O'Connor retirement. You can bet there'll be plenty of hoary red state/blue state blather. As HuffPoster David Sirota points out, the punditocracy never tires of trying to distill these kinds of confirmation battles into easy-to-digest left vs right skirmishes -- and Russert is undoubtedly the ruler of the realm where the congealed conventional wisdom reigns. There will undoubtedly be more of the same when our host convenes what the MTP website calls "a special 'Meet the Press Roundtable'" to discuss "the politics of the confirmation process." And, oh yeah, somewhere in there, Tim will squeeze in time to discuss Iraq with Chris Dodd, Chuck Hagel and Duncan Hunter because, again quoting the website, "the war in Iraq still dominates the hearts and minds of the American public." Hey, thanks for noticing…
Here are a few of the questions I'd like to hear Russert ask his gaggle of guests:
For Specter and Leahy, it might be fun if Russert put up one of his screen-filling graphics, listing all of the potential Supreme Court nominees and asking them: "Okay, of these potential nominees, whose nomination would be considered an ‘extraordinary circumstance' that would allow Democrats -- under the terms of the recent Senate compromise -- to filibuster?”
"The battle lines for this nomination are clearly being drawn, with Robert Bork attacking Sandra Day O'Connor on CNN for her ‘unfortunate’ departures from the Constitution and Harry Reid praising her as 'a voice of reason and moderation'… Is it unreasonable for people to expect President Bush to appoint someone like O'Connor, who, after all was appointed by Ronald Reagan and was the deciding vote in the decision that put Bush in office in the first place?"
"Back in the old days -- meaning the 1990s -- President Clinton made it a practice to consult with Orrin Hatch, the ranking minority member of the Judiciary Committee, when making High Court appointments. Indeed, Hatch has said that he was the one who recommended Justices Ginsburg and Breyer. Sen. Leahy, do you expect President Bush will allow you the same level of input?"
For the Iraq panel:
"Sen. Hagel, at the end of last month, you said, 'The White House is completely disconnected from reality. It's like they're just making it up as they go along.' Since then, Don Rumsfeld has defended the progress of the war in front of the Senate and the President has tried to convince the nation that the war in Iraq is connected to what happened on 9/11. What is it going to take before this administration starts leveling with the American people?"
"Sen. Dodd, after Mr. Bush's speech on Tuesday you said that even though you were 'sorry to hear the president still trying to link 9/11' with Iraq, you still felt he had begun the process of being "candid" with the American people. My question: is the president introducing more candor or continuing to try to hoodwink the American people? Can you be both more forthcoming and still lying at the same time?"
"Rep. Hunter, you've been a very vocal defender of the treatment prisoners in Guatanamo Bay receive, arguing that their menu includes items such as oven-fried chicken, rice pilaf, and pita bread, and that 'the average inmate in Guantanamo has gained five to seven pounds last year.' My question: Isn't it possible to feed a man rice pilaf and still subject him to torture?”
Okay, gang… now it's your turn. Post the questions you'd like to hear Tim ask in the comments section and we'll publish the best of them before Sunday's show.