I’ve had a rather informative discussion with “the source.” Here’s the stuff I can relate.
As Robert Novak is reporting this morning, many in the Senate think that whoever Bush nominates to the Supreme Court to fill O’Connor’s spot will be filibustered by the Democrats, if they can hold it together. The President would like to avoid that if possible — hence Larry Thompson’s name has been floated. The thinking is that Thompson could pass through the Senate without a filibuster and that he would be to the right of Alberto Gonzales. The President is still not considering Gonzales.
Unfortunately for the President, Larry Thompson gives some vocal conservatives inside and outside the Senate ulcers. Thompson’s views on abortion are not known and his judicial philosophy, while thought to be originalist, is not fully defined. Some conservatives are sending messages to the White House that Thompson is not the guy the President should pick.
Coming into play are the President’s weak poll numbers. He has several members of the Senate, including the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, who will not necessarily give him full cooperation. The President is going to have to find someone who is considered “top notch” that can keep Senators in line and also keep conservatives happy. “The President needs his base right now. We all know that. An enigma will not satisfy the base,” says the source.
That leaves us back where we were. While Owen seemingly serves the White House purpose, some senators are privately urging the President to go in a different direction. One senate aide tells me, “Owen has said nice stuff on parental consent. That’s about the extent of it. If our guys are going to go all out, he might as well go all out. The Gang of ’08 is not going to sit on their hands if we get a real conservative.”
So, who will it be? Larry Thompson’s name is still in play. Michael Luttig’s’ name is back up. Edith Jones’s name is also in play. Owen’s name is there, but she is now considered less likely. This is all to say that I have no idea other than it will not be me.