Thursday, February 10, 2005

Random Thoughts regarding St. Valentine's Day

I learned a few tidbits from Monday through Wednesday about Valentine's Day, by listening to "Passion Phones" with Mary Walter, on New Jersey 101.5 (WKXW-FM, Trenton, NJ):

- 73 percent of men send roses to their significant other on Valentine's Day.

Bill's Comment: Come on guys, step up to the plate. Saying that just having you around her does not qualify as a gift, regardless of personality.,

- 15 percent of women will send something on Valentine's Day to themselves.

Bill's Comment: I am scratching my head on this one. I am trying to figure out why one would do such? I am guessing that these folks will be on a future episode of "Dr. Phil".

Personally, I would rather be flying solo rather than be in a bad relationship., and

- Ninety million roses are delivered on Valentine's Day.

Bill's Comment: That comes out to 7.5 million dozen roses. At an average, overhyped price of $80.00 a dozen, that comes out to six hundred million dollars, which equates to approximately twelve percent of the estimated budget deficit for the State of New Jersey ($5 billion).

Of course, any one that happens to date Scott Peterson will receive three dozen roses and two bottles of booze. Oh, I forgot. He is incarcerated now, where he belongs.

To me, it is nothing more than a "Hallmark holiday", whether I am attached or not. Besides, you should you only tell somebody how you feel about them one day out of the year? When I was with Ashley, I made sure to say the words, "I LOVE YOU!" every time we communicated.

All in all, I hope that you have a great day, regardless of your take on it.


Early Returns in 'Deep Throat' Contest: Rehnquist Takes the Lead!

Early Returns in 'Deep Throat' Contest: Rehnquist Takes the Lead!

Early Returns in 'Deep Throat' Contest: Rehnquist Takes the Lead!

By Greg Mitchell

Published: February 09, 2005 updated 5:00 PM ET

NEW YORK As so often in the past, the press once again is feeding a Deep Throat frenzy, apparently set off by the opening of the Woodward and Bernstein archives on Watergate at the University of Texas last week.

The mania shows no sign of abating, with the chattering classes still chattering over John Dean's op-ed for Sunday's Los Angeles Times, which suggested that (a) Deep Throat is ailing, perhaps near death, and (b) former Washington Post helmsman Ben Bradlee has written his obituary, neither of which could be confirmed, of course.

It did inspire many, however, to morbidly ponder who among the many suspects might be seriously ill. Long ago, Dean, who was closer to the White House crime scene than most, proposed four likely candidates. At least one of them, Pat Buchanan, seemed fit as a fiddle at last look.

Meanwhile, the author of the 1993 biography of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, “Deep Truth,” has named George H.W. Bush as the new chief suspect.

But plenty of others still have their advocates, including Fred Fielding, John Sears, L. Patrick Gray (the original front runner), Leonard Garment, William Safire, Dwight Chapin, Ray Price, Alexander Haig, David Gergen, Mark Felt, Lowell Weicker, and the ever popular No One (he was a Woodward-Bernstein composite).

Keith Olbermann of MSNBC asked Dean last night if it might be Hal Holbrook, the actor who played Deep Throat in the movie "All the President's Men." Dean replied that Woodward once said that Holbrook did an excellent impersonation: the chain-smoking, the angry attitude, and all the rest.

Coincidentally, a major mainstream documentary, "Inside Deep Throat," about the early '70s porno film, will be released to theaters this Friday. It does not promise to name the Watergate source.

Here at E&P, we thought we'd join in the fun, since Deep Throat, whoever or whatever it is, is the most famous journalistic source in history. Send us your pick for the most likely candidate (to:, and we will tabulate the results. We will also award a free subscription to whoever is first to submit the correct name -- assuming, that is, we ever learn who he/she/it is.

In the early returns, based on dozens of submissions, the clear frontrunner is (ailing) Chief Justice Willam Rehnquist. Mark Felt holds second, and (ailing) President Ford is in third. Other interesting picks include: Ben Stein, Bill Casey, Leonard Garment, Henry Kissinger, G. Gordon Liddy, Earl Silbert, Steven Bull, Fred Fielding's secretary, and Richard M. Nixon himself ("he was so self-destructive").

Keep them coming.

Note: Contest rules specify that Woodward, Bernstein, and Bradlee are not eligible to enter.

There is no truth to the rumor that E&P is pondering for our next contest, "What is Jeff Gannon's Real Name?"

Greg Mitchell ( is the editor of E&P.

More on the "Deep Throat" Possibilities

Deep Throat mania hits Washington

By Kevin Anderson

BBC News website, Washington

These days in Washington, journalists protecting sources are sent to jail, former White House counsel and Watergate figure John Dean observes.

But some 30 years ago two enterprising young reporters at the Washington Post helped topple President Richard Nixon in large part due to a super-secret source known to the world only as Deep Throat.

The source's identity is one of the most enduring mysteries and best-kept secrets in Washington.

The opening of the Watergate archives of Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein has served as the latest pretext for another round of media-fuelled speculation over the identity of Washington's most famous inside source.

Few facts

Few facts are known about Deep Throat, and Mr Woodward has promised to keep his identity a secret until after his death.

Of the facts that are known, we know that Deep Throat is a man, that he smokes and likes Scotch.

Other than the two reporters, only former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee knows the identity of Deep Throat.

Now, Woodward and Bernstein's Watergate notes, sold for $5m in 2003, are on display in Texas - all the notes apart from material on Deep Throat, that is.

Those notes are being kept at an undisclosed location.

The reporting team made the rounds on American cable channels and were peppered with questions trying to extract every last shred of information about Deep Throat.

But Woodward and Bernstein refused to renege on their promise.

Adding fuel to the fire is a column in the Los Angeles Times by former White House counsel John Dean, who says that sources have told him that Deep Throat is ill.

Mr Bradlee, the former Washington Post editor, has acknowledged that he has already written Deep Throat's obituary, Mr Dean said.

It must be said that apart from these tantalising morsels, Mr Dean remains in the dark.

He knows that it is one of his former colleagues at the White House, but he added: "I'll be damned if I can figure out exactly which one."

A Bush connection?

Adrian Havill had claimed in a 1993 unauthorised biography of Woodward and Bernstein that Deep Throat was a composite of several sources.

Mr Woodward has denied that theory.

But now Mr Havill believes that Deep Throat is in fact George HW Bush, the father of the current president.

He made his claim on a journalism website last week, saying he came to the conclusion after recent events and a review of documents at the National Archives in Maryland

Why else would current president George W Bush, known to strenuously dislike the press, grant seven hours of interviews to Mr Woodward and urge his cabinet to cooperate, Mr Havill asked.

And the elder Bush had ample motivation to want to rat on Richard Nixon, the author said.

Nixon had dangled the prospect of a number of positions in the administration in front of Mr Bush in 1970s, including a place at the Department of Treasury or even as running mate in 1972, Mr Havill says.

Nixon reneged on these promises, giving Mr Bush reason to want revenge.

However, there are problems with this theory.

By Mr Havill's own admission, Mr Bush wasn't in Washington between 1971 and 1972. He lived in the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, where he served as US ambassador to the United Nations.

Deep Throat uncovered

And William Gaines, who led a four-year investigation into the identity of Deep Throat with his students at the University of Illinois, said Mr Bush didn't have access to the information that Deep Throat is known to have revealed.

Mr Gaines and his students used an unedited manuscript of Woodward and Bernstein's book All the President's Men and reams of public records including 16,000 pages of FBI records, much of them contained on nine reels of microfilm in the university's library.

They used a process of elimination by taking information linked exclusively to Deep Throat and cross referencing that with who might have had that information in the Nixon White House.

Much of the information that Deep Throat provided to Woodward and Bernstein flowed through John Dean's office.

For instance, Mr Gaines points to an incident when President Nixon's domestic advisor John Ehrlichman told Watergate burglar Howard Hunt to leave Washington the weekend after the bungled burglary.

Only six people were known to have been involved, including Fred Fielding, Mr Dean's deputy.

And time after time, Mr Gaines and his students found that Mr Fielding was one of a handful of people at the White House with information linked to Deep Throat.

Protecting sources

And the students believed that the reporting team might have protected Deep Throat in their reports.

They point to a story about Katherine Chenow, secretary to Howard Hunt and fellow Watergate burglar G Gordon Liddy.

She was vacationing in England at the time of the break-in.

John Dean dispatched Mr Fielding to bring her back to the US, in part so that she could be coached before being interviewed by the FBI.

Carl Bernstein wrote about this some five months later after obtaining her phone number.

However, he only said in his story that a member of John Dean's staff had brought her back to the US and did not mention Mr Fielding by name.

Ms Chenow, feeling that she might have been too candid with Mr Bernstein, had called Mr Fielding to discuss the conversation with him.

In notes obtained by the students, they found out that Mr Bernstein knew that the "member of John Dean's staff" was in fact, Mr Fielding.

"To omit the name from the story was the kind of care a reporter would take to coddle a friend and source," the students wrote.

Mr Fielding has denied being Deep Throat, but Mr Woodward has said that Deep Throat has lied to protect his identity.

For now, the mystery continues.

But if John Dean is correct, and Deep Throat is indeed ill, one of the greatest mysteries in Washington may soon be solved.

Some "Deep Throat" Possibilities

Could George Bush Snr really be Deep Throat?
He was the world's most famous journalistic source and heralded the end for Richard Nixon. A new report says he is the former president, another that he is near death. Andrew Buncombe and Rupert Cornwell report
09 February 2005

Fred Fielding, Deputy White House Counsel

Who is he? Now 66, served as deputy White House counsel and left in 1974 to enter private practice. Returned to serve in the Reagan White House from 1981-86. Also served on the independent 9/11 Commission.

When did the speculation begin? H R Haldeman, President Richard Nixon's chief of staff, speculated in his 1978 book The Ends of Power, that Fielding was Deep Throat, the government source who briefed Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward about President Nixon's involvement in the Watergate affair. The fall-out from the break-in at Democratic headquarters in 1972 forced Mr Nixon to quit. Woodward has said he will name Deep Throat only on his death.

The case for: A four-year project by journalism students at the University of Illinois, led by Professor Bill Gaines, identified Fielding as Deep Throat. Professor Gaines said yesterday: "We are 100 per cent certain." His class has carefully matched records from the Nixon White House showing what Fielding and his boss, John Dean, knew about, to passages from All the President's Men where Deep Throat tips off Woodward about those same incidents.

Fielding would have had access to FBI files about the break-in as well as information about the Nixon administration's efforts to cover its tracks. Fielding also smoked and drank Scotch, just as Woodward said Deep Throat did.

The case against: Fielding has denied he is Deep Throat, though Woodward said his source had lied to protect his identity. Many believe the source had to have worked at the FBI to have known all the information about the investigation. Fielding's boss, Dean, and Leonard Garment, his subsequent superior at the White House after Dean, have written books saying Fielding was not Deep Throat. Reports this week said Fielding was not ill. Dean claims that in 1981 when Fielding was being recruited by the White House as counsel, Fielding told him that Woodward had informed the White House he was not the source.

Odds: 2/1

George Bush Snr, US Ambassador at the UN

Who is he? Bush was US ambassador to the UN from 1971 to 1973 and director of the CIA in 1976-77, later serving two terms as vice-president to Ronald Reagan. In 1988, Bush was elected president, serving one term before being beaten in the 1992 election by Bill Clinton. Now 80, Bush still exerts a degree of influence over the politics of his son, George W, the current President.

When did speculation begin? The British-born author Adrian Havill claimed this week on a journalism website that Bush Snr was Deep Throat.

The case for: Havill says new research points the finger of suspicion at Bush. He says he became suspicious after President George W Bush, who is known to dislike the press, gave an unusual seven hours of interviews to Woodward for one of his recent books. He argues that Bush Snr had reason to dislike Nixon, who had urged him to leave a safe congressional seat for a Treasury position with the promise that he would later become Treasury Secretary.

According to Havill, Nixon did not deliver and Bush was given the task of heading the Republican National Committee. He says that although Bush was UN ambassador (i.e in New York) from 1971 to 1973 he returned to Washington at weekends when seven of the eight meetings with Woodward took place. "My examination of White House records at the National Archives show Bush attending many Washington state dinners and weekly cabinet meetings during that period," wrote Havill. "More importantly, he was in Washington nearly every weekend where he owned a house and where his son Neil attended St Alban's prep school."

The case against: Woodward has previously said Deep Throat held a sensitive position within the executive branch of government. This would appear to rule out Bush as being the source. There is also the issue of the flag signal, detailed in All The President's Men. When Woodward needed to meet his source he would put a flag on the balcony of his P Street apartment. How would Bush have known about this in New York? It is also extremely doubtful whether Bush would have been in possession of many of the details about the investigation into the Watergate break-in. Similarly, it is unlikely he would have known about efforts to cover up the plot. Havill has also changed his opinion. In his 1993 book Deep Truth he claimed that Deep Throat was a composite of different sources created by Woodward. Woodward claims never to have interviewed the former president.

Odds: 50/1

Pat Buchanan, Speechwriter to Richard Nixon

Who is he? He was a special assistant and speechwriter for Nixon from 1969 to 1973. Later a broadcaster, he ran as a Republican presidential candidate in 1992, 1996 and 2000.

When did the speculation begin? He has long been a favourite Deep Throat suspect. John Dean is but one of several Nixon White House insiders to have listed Buchanan as a prime candidate, and he was one of seven "finalists" in the University of Illinois investigation that concluded Fred Fielding was Deep Throat.

The case for: Buchanan was in the White House inner circle, and, by April 1973, he was meeting regularly with President Nixon's lawyers. At the time he was living in downtown Washington just a mile from Woodward's apartment, on whose balcony signs for meetings were set. He is known to have been a smoker, and fond of Scotch. Also, his sister Bay worked for Creep, the Committee to Re-elect the President, which financed Watergate and other "dirty tricks". Buchanan is generally regarded as a Nixon loyalist but he is said to have threatened to resign three months before the break-in after a disagreement with the President's rapprochement with China.

The case against: He may be a cantankerous old conservative, but, at the Nixon White House, he was very much a team player; the China motive is seen as very thin. He has denied being Deep Throat, saying he gave up smoking before the March 1972 China trip. John Dean has also claimed that Deep Throat is very ill, Buchanan, at the last sighting, seemed in good health.

Odds: 6/1

Alexander Haig, Richard Nixon's Chief of Staff

Who is he? Now 80, Alexander Haig was a senior White House military adviser from 1970-1973, then chief of staff for President Richard Nixon from 1973-74. Later, he was Nato supreme commander (1974-79), and secretary of state (1981-82). He made a short-lived presidential bid in 1988.

When did the speculation begin? General Haig's name surfaced early. Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin, in their 1991 book Silent Coup: The Removal of a President, suggested him as a leading candidate; so too did Adrian Havill in his 1993 book Deep Truth.

The case for: As the top aide of Mr Nixon's national security adviser Henry Kissinger, General Haig was close enough to the centre of power. He fits the Woodward/Bernstein book's description of their source as holding "an extremely sensitive post in the executive branch". He was a Scotch drinker, and the book's description of their source as "prone to overreach" and "not good at concealing his feelings" certainly could apply.

The case against: General Haig has vehemently denied all suggestions he was Deep Throat, and he is not one of nature's natural dissemblers. As a soldier, the concept of loyalty would have made it hard to betray his commander-in-chief (though there have been suggestions he might have been operating as an agent for his immediate boss, Henry Kissinger). And it is hard to see how, from the National Security Council, he could have followed every twist and turn in the cover-up at the White House.

Odds: 7/1

David Gergen, Speechwriter to Richard Nixon

Who is he? Currently a professor of public service at Harvard's John Kennedy School of Government and director of its Centre for Public Leadership. After serving the Nixon government he worked as an adviser to presidents Ford, Reagan and Clinton. Also works as a broadcaster and journalist.

When did the speculation begin? In 1976 Esquire magazine named him most likely candidate for Deep Throat.

The case for: The former NBC correspondent Jim Miklaszewski has said he thinks Gergen is Deep Throat. He was certainly at the White House during the time in question, and is said to have been a smoker and drinker. In a 1993 New York Times Magazine profile which all but claimed Gergen was the source, it was pointed out that Gergen had a close relationship with investigative reporters during Watergate and has continued those ties since that time. Like Woodward, Gergen is a graduate of Yale University.

The case against: Critics of this theory say Gergen was simply not in a position to have access to all the relevant information. While he worked inside the White House, information about the investigation into the break-in at the Watergate and the attempted cover-up would almost certainly have passed him by. John Dean claims Woodward told him that Gergen was not the source. Gergen has also denied it and even threatened a lawsuit against Esquire when it identified him as the most likely candidate. The first time he was accused of being Deep Throat, Gergen reportedly burst into tears.

Odds: 25/1

Patrick Gray, Acting Director of the FBI

Who is he? Appointed Assistant Attorney General in 1970 by President Nixon, and succeeded J Edgar Hoover as acting director of the FBI for less than a year. Now 79.

When did the speculation begin? Almost immediately after the publication of All The President's Men.

The case for: A CBS documentary in 1992 argued that while Gray "started out as a Nixon loyalist", as he was dragged into the Watergate scandal, "he became increasingly disgusted with the whole business". Gray lived near Woodward, liked the role of mentor, had also served in the Navy and he matches the details Woodward reveals about Deep Throat. In the May 1992 issue of Atlantic Monthly, former Washington Post reporter James Mann said FBI investigators had access to information from the White House and the Committee for the Re-election of the President.

The case against: Gray denies he was the source. There is doubt someone in such a senior position as Gray would have befriended a young reporter such as Woodward. In All The President's Men, Woodward and Bernstein write that Gray phoned the head of the FBI Washington field bureau and ordered him to ensure there were no leaks.

Odds: 5/1

Mark Felt, FBI Deputy Associate Director

Who is he? Now aged 90, Felt was deputy associate director at the time of Watergate.

When did the speculation begin? Felt was a prime candidate from the outset. He has been named as the most likely suspect in several studies, but has always denied it.

The case for: Felt had the motive. He was one of the J Edgar Hoover "old guard' at the FBI, and hoped to succeed the old man in 1972. Instead, Nixon picked a loyalist, L Patrick Gray, as acting director. Felt was the bureau's point man in dealings with the White House. He would have been fully abreast of the investigation into the break-in and would have known many of the leading actors. He was known to be a rare FBI operative who would return reporters' calls. The President's chief of staff, H R Haldeman, told Nixon that Felt was responsible for "most of" the leaks already plaguing the White House. Much has been made of a rumoured 1999 visit by Woodward to Felt's home in California. In 1999 a newspaper claimed that Carl Bernstein's son had told another boy that Felt was Deep Throat. Bernstein and Bernstein's former wife deny the allegation.

The case against: He has asserted that no single individual could have known everything that Deep Throat purportedly knew.

Odds: 4/1
10 February 2005 19:55

Is "Deep Throat" Near Death?

Feb. 8, 2005, 8:41PM

Speaking of 'Deep Throat' and use of unnamed sources
Preserving anonymity is a privilege, not absolute right

I have little doubt that one of my former Nixon White House colleagues is history's best-known anonymous source — Deep Throat. But I'll be damned if I can figure out exactly which one.

We'll all know one day very soon, however. Bob Woodward, a reporter on the team that covered the Watergate story, has advised his executive editor at the Washington Post that Throat is ill. And Ben Bradlee, former executive editor of the Post and one of the few people to whom Woodward confided his source's identity, has publicly acknowledged that he has written Throat's obituary.

When that posthumous profile reveals the secret name, it will be flash powder on the long-simmering debate about reporters' use of anonymous sources — an issue much in the news lately because my former law school classmate, Thomas F. Hogan, now the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, has been holding journalists in contempt of court for refusing to reveal their sources to a grand jury investigating the leak of the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

I'm caught in the middle on this discussion. As a columnist, occasional freelancer and author of six nonfiction books, I use unidentified sources myself. In fact, I just used one. The source who informed me that Woodward leaked the news of Throat's illness to the executive editor of the Post gave me that information either on "deep background" or "off the record" (I never could get the distinction of those rules straightened out). So I apologize to my source if this information was never meant to be public, but it is a tidbit too hot to keep sitting on.

I don't like using unidentified sources and never was one. During my years at the White House, not to mention those at the Justice Department and on Capitol Hill, I never leaked information, although I was frequently approached. If I couldn't say it on the record, I didn't say it. And because I had no authority to speak on the record, I chose not to speak.

So what is to be made of those who clank jail keys to encourage reporters to reveal their sources?

Without confidential sources, much of what people need to know in a democracy would never be reported, so unless there is a higher reason, journalists must be able to protect such sources who are willing to impart such information.

That said, no news person should agree to provide confidentiality unless it is essential to obtain information that the public should be told and there is no other way to obtain the information. A scoop per se does not justify a pledge of confidentiality.

A source may be using the reporter, while the reporter is using the source. Motives range from the noble whistle-blower who is morally offended by misconduct to the staffer who is floating a trial balloon to the low-end leaker who is seeking to gain advantage by sabotaging a competitor or foe.

Reporters and their sources (and the public) must remember that when journalists agree to keep a source confidential, they have entered into a contract. Indeed, reporters have been successfully sued for damages when they have breached their agreement. But in most states, every contract has an implied warranty of good faith and fair dealing — meaning that neither a reporter nor a source can take unfair advantage of the other. This is important because insiders leak for an array of reasons, not always honorable, and may be using the reporter's confidentiality to protect themselves if, say, they are releasing information obtained improperly. If the source tried to enforce confidentiality, or collect damages from the reporter, the attempt would fail because of implied warranty.

Finally, if the confidential information relates to criminal activity, the U.S. Supreme Court said in 1972 (in Branzburg v. Hayes) that should a grand jury investigating the crime need the information, the journalist must turn it over — despite the freedom of the press guaranteed under the First Amendment.

No reporter can enter into an agreement that violates that law. Rather, an agreement of confidentiality is subject to it.

The so-called news person's privilege, just like the attorney-client privilege or a president's executive privilege, is a qualified privilege. When a judge holds a reporter in contempt for violating the law, that judge is merely upholding the law of the land.

As for Deep Throat, well, we will all soon learn if Woodward has been protecting a criminal for three decades, or merely a source who gave him some good information and some bad information — when history's greatest source was wrong — that Woodward has never corrected. (To pick just one of Throat's many errors, I randomly opened All the President's Men, scanned until I came to the passage in which Woodward reports Throat as giving him this: "Dean talked with Sen. (Howard) Baker after (the) Watergate committee (was) formed and Baker is in the bag completely, reporting back directly to the White House." It never happened.)

I suspect that Throat's identity may prove a cautionary tale for all news gatherers. Stay tuned.

Dean, a former Nixon White House counsel, is the author of "Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush."

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Laura Ingraham's Weekly E-Blast, 2/8/05

Laura's Weekly E-Blast
February 8, 2005

Order in the Court: Chief Justice Thomas Presiding

At some point in the near future, George W. Bush will have to make one of the most important decisions of his presidency. He will have to nominate a new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and at the same time a new Associate Justice.
The drawn-out and rancorous questioning of Alberto Gonzales should disabuse the White House of any hope that Democrats would give him a pass on his first Supreme Court nominee. Indeed Senators Chuck Schumer and Pat Leahy are pledging to stop any nominee who falls outside "the judicial mainstream." (Read: Any Supreme Court nominee who does not enthusiastically embrace abortion rights will face a bruising confirmation battle.)

Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid warned against any attempt to elevate Justice Clarence Thomas to the position of Chief, branding Thomas's tenure on the Court as an "embarrassment" and his opinions as "poorly written." Although Reid expressed support for his personal friend Scalia as Chief, Schumer quickly clarified that Reid "will not support judicial nominees who are out of the mainstream."

So what should the President do? In three words: GO FOR IT.

When Chief Justice William Rehnquist steps down, the President should move swiftly to nominate Associate Justice Clarence Thomas to replace him (and simultaneously nominate someone of equal caliber and philosophy for the associate justice vacancy). Why Thomas over Justice Antonin Scalia? Scalia would be an exceptional Chief Justice too, but is perhaps most effective in (and seems to relish) his role as an outspoken -- and sometimes strategically provocative -- guardian of the constitution. We cannot afford to lose that. Justice Thomas's intellect, humility, genuine affection for his colleagues, and keen sense of humor, has won him the respect and friendship of his fellow Justices. His votes and opinions during his 13 years on the Court make him ideally suited to oversee it in a manner that is consistent with conservative principles long after President Bush has retired to Texas.

Thomas respects the separation of powers, and as such the limits of judicial powers. Even those who don't share his judicial philosophy have recognized his opinions as thoughtful and well-reasoned. He has distinguished himself numerous opinions, including in his dissent in the U.S. Term Limits case, where the Court held that the states could not impose term limits on members of Congress; and in his concurrence in the Lopez decision, where he explained why Congress had for decades been overstepping its authority under the Commerce Clause. Even The Harvard Law Review noted recently that Justice Thomas "has emerged as one of the Court's most prolific writers."

It is true that Thomas will face the wrath of those Democrats who are hell-bent on resurrecting all the nonsense from his 1991 confirmation fight. That is sooo last century. More certain is that Democrats will attempt to block any nominee-including Thomas-unless they commit to vote their way on a range of "litmus test" issues. They already know that Thomas will not play this game. They know he will not promise to vote a certain way on hypothetical cases. So let them rattle off their demands. Let them rage against the dying of their light.

It is up to this President to expose the Democrats' outlandish method of evaluating judicial nominations. By nominating Thomas to the position of Chief, he will have the opportunity to do just that. By requiring that judicial nominees take positions on issues and make commitments on future cases that have yet to come before the Court, Democrats are essentially forcing them to treat confirmations hearings like political campaigns. This in turn means that the federal bench becomes just one more place where political food fights happen.

If the Democrats respected their constitutional role of "advise and consent", they would quickly vote to confirm Chief Justice Thomas and put the ill-advised political fights of the past behind them. The results of the last election make clear that this is no time to appease or compromise on judicial appointments. Such a failure of purpose would break the trust of the people who worked so hard to reelect the president.

If the Democrats really want a fight over judges, let's give them one. The White House should force the Democrats defend the type of loony judicial activism that has enraged Americans for decades. Make the Democrats explain why our Constitution supposedly reflects every single one of their policy preferences--but prohibits those of conservatives. Point out all of the wacky decisions issued by liberal judges in recent years. For over 35 years, Democrats have been losing votes because of liberal judges. If President Bush stands up to them on this issue, he will win.

Chief Justice Clarence Thomas. It's time.