THE BLOG
09/08/2007 11:32 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Wingnut, Nuttier and Nuttiest

Now, you know our hero well enough by now that you already knew he wouldn't nominate a moderate for Attorney General. But it's hard to imagine three worse nominees than this gang:

President Bush is expected to choose a replacement for Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales by the middle of next week, and former solicitor general Theodore B. Olson has emerged as one of the leading contenders for the job, according to sources inside and outside the government who are familiar with White House deliberations. Other candidates still in the running include former deputy attorney general George J. Terwilliger III and D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Laurence H. Silberman, according to the sources, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the discussions.

The Washington Post ever so eagerly finds a Clintonite to say good things about Olsen:

But Olson, who represented Bush in the legal battle over the 2000 presidential election, also is widely admired by members of both parties for his legal skills and sharp intellect. Lanny Davis, former special counsel to President Clinton, endorsed Olson for the attorney general's job in a recent opinion article, calling him "a principled and independent thinker who will focus on the word 'Justice' in the Department's name."

Ding ding ding! Did your alarm go off, too? "Widely admired by members of both parties." Hmm. Isn't that exactly how they described stealth wingnut John Roberts before they threw the roses in his path for the Supreme Court?

How else would you describe a judicial nominee with a long history of lying in the service of his king? Why, as "widely admired," of course.

But Olson's troubles with Congress shouldn't surprise anyone who has followed his career, because they bear remarkable similarity to the behavior that got him into hot water more than a decade ago, and almost led to perjury charges.

A careful examination of that episode raises serious questions about not merely his integrity but the legendary legal prowess to which even his critics defer. Indeed, the last time Olson served as a top presidential legal counselor, he left behind a political disaster area strewn with bad legal advice, wrecked careers and lingering scandals.

As assistant attorney general to President Reagan from 1981 to 1983, Olson advised the president to claim executive privilege to block an investigation by congressional Democrats into the scandal-plagued Superfund program, based on assertions that later proved fatally false -- largely because Olson, apparently eager to force a political fight with Congress, failed to double-check key information.

And of course, both Olson and Silberman were closely involved in the Arkansas Project, the proverbial right-wing conspiracy to take down Bill Clinton.

Larry Silberman? Overturned Oliver North's conviction on what is seen as very shaky legal grounds, part of the illegal arms-for-hostages deal that helped Reagan win the 1980 election, and coordinated the attacks on Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. (I'd love to see Media Matter's David Brock testify against his character if nominated.)

Terwilliger isn't as famous a wingnut, which makes him the most likely nominee. They do like their unknowns, don't they? And after facing the twin specters of Olson and Silberman, the oh-so-predictable Democratic Congress will heave a sigh of relief and roll over on this nomination.

That would be a big mistake. He's also highly partisan (as in Federalist Society partisan) and loyal (as in, Bush Family Criminal Enterprise-loyal). He was the attorney leading the Florida recount effort for Bush. Let's put it this way: despite his backing by some prominent conservatives, John Ashcroft opposed him as FBI Director.

That's why I think he'll be the nominee, and that's why I'm sure the Democrats will support him if nominated. After all, if he's not wearing a black hat, it will be too difficult to explain why we're not confirming him and then people would be mad at us!

As opposed to that "protecting the Constitution" thing? No contest. PR always comes first.