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I am dying to know if Salazar is really stupid enough to actually believe Gonzales when he gives Salazar an "I oppose torture" letter, or whether there is more to it than that. The official story seems terribly implausible for a smart man like Salazar.

James Peabody

You're right - Salazar is a smart guy and he has people around him in DC who know how the game is played. We honestly can't answer your question about the letter or know how much Salazar's friendship with Gonzales really played into his decision. But we do know he and his advisors relied on political smarts in this case.


Certainly your analysis is right. With a Republican comtrolled Senate, and an obstinate minority of Democrats, Salazar becomes a go-to guy for Republican leaders needing bi-partisan support for legislation. Very astute on his part, I think.

Alva Adams

We couldn't have said it better, Walter. Nobody agrees with torture, and Salazar backing Gonzales doesn't mean that he does, either. But opposition just for the sake of opposition isn't a politically wise maneuver - especially for a freshman Senator trying to show that he is his own man and not a steward of his Party. Democrats praise those who voted against Gonzales, but so what? What did it get them? It's irrelevant. Salazar knows he needs to pick his battles, and that's what he's doing.


Um, I guess I'll just repeat what I observed before:

Yeah, and maybe good Ol' Ken (Colorado's newly elected Democratic?? US Senator) will be following in the footsteps of another Colorado ex-senator (Ol' Ben Nighthorse Cambell who was elected as a Democrat and then, in 1995, found it convenient to switch parties to become a Republican) . I can't believe that Ken focused his support of Gonzales - ignoring the facts of Alberto's musings on torture and his suggestion that the President has the Constitutional authority to ignore a law passed by Congress - by singing the song of the bootstrap success of a fellow Latino. Sure, God Bless Gonzales for succeeding in an unkind world. But, Jesus, Ken, the guy's scary and if you'll cross the ailse for Gonzales, what else will you forsake the party for?


James, Walter, Alva:

Do you really think there is such a thing as "political capitol" with this Republican legislature? Describe to me in what form Ken's recompense may come.

So he "relied on political smarts." The torture vote was "very astute on his part." And "opposition just for the sake of opposition isn't a politically wise maneuver." I guess those of us who actually volunteered, donated, and voted for him should get the hell out of the way and let the big boys make their deals now, eh?

What constituency was Ken playing to with this vote? Most Latino organizations would not support Gonzales. Salazar's office received weeks of feedback that ran 9 to 1 against confirming Gonzales. Colorado didn't want him to vote this way, so in what way was this a savvy move?

Ken's vote was a simple freshman mistake, unless his goal was to join his old friend Joe Lieberman in that part of the Party that does not receive committee assignments or increased responsibility.

James Peabody

Yes, Virginia, there is political capitol.

While the U.S. Senate has certainly become much more partisan, it is still a place where deals can get done across the aisle. Republicans need Democratic help to get legislation passed. The reverse is the case in the House, where the Republican Majority can pretty much work its will. As long as Republicans don't have a filibuster-proof majority, a Democrat like Ken Salazar can build political capitol and use it to bolster the battles he does take on.

It's no surprise Salazar's office received phone calls 9 to 1 against Gonzales. Those opposed to the nomination were urging people to call their Senators. Because the nomination was going to pass, those in favor of it didn't see the need to get their supporters on the phone to the Senate. When an issue or nomination is close, and both sides are working their base to hammer Senators, then you may get a more accurate read on the public's true feelings.

Yet, when asked about numbers on constituent calls on an issue, Congressional offices are notorious for giving numbers that match the boss's position. There might not be outright lying going on, but some shading of the truth does occur. If Salazar's office was telling the media or the public that calls were running 9 to 1 against Gonzales, we're guessing they were probably telling the truth since Salazar voted the opposite way. It's actually refreshing to hear about a Congressional office that doesn't seem to be playing the numbers game on constituent calls.

Speaking of Lieberman, he sits on the Armed Services committe, is Ranking Member of the Homeland Security committee, and sits on Environment and Public Works and Small Business. Do these match Appropriations? No. But Lieberman's assignments don't indicate he's being frozen out. Again, the Senate is a different animal than the House, where this sort of retribution and treatment is more prevelant and easier to do.

Last time we checked, this was one vote. It's not going to kill Salazar with the Democrats - except those who judge a forest by one tree - and it's not going to make him a Republican favorite. It builds him some capitol with the Republicans, capitol he can use in future battles.


I really think "capital" is the word you need here, James. Eh!

James Peabody

Thank you, George. I got so worked up thinking about the Freshman in our Nation's CapiTOL that I screwed up capiTAL.

I wish there was some sort of cute way to remember this (beyond actually using the brain) like with principal and principle. Remember, the principal is always your pal...


A capitol is always a bowl. (Get it? Upsidedown bowl=dome!) Capital will get you a gal! Or, okay, pal will work, too.

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