The Dumbest Senator…

by Brien Jackson

…strikes again:

At least one conservative Democratic senator, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, is signaling that Johnsen won’t get his support.

“Senator Nelson is very concerned about the nomination of Dawn Johnsen, based on her previous position as Counsel for NARAL. He believes that the Office of Legal Counsel is a position in which personal views can have an impact and is concerned about her outspoken pro-choice views on abortion,” said spokesman Clay Westrope.

I don’t even know where to start with this. Appointing Dawn Johnsen to head the Office of Legal Counsel may very well have been the single best appointment Obama has made so far. Senate Republicans are trying to block a vote on her specifically because they know she’ll vigorously roll back the absurdities of the Bush OLC. But there really is no defending this particular apostasy on Nelson’s part.

Putting aside the specter of a Democrat taking an anti-choice stand (there’s nothing that says particular Democrats can’t be rigidly anti-abortion, after all, especially in red states), the “substance” of Nelson’s remarks simply make no sense. Can a person’s personal opinions impact OLC opinions? I suppose, but what does that have to do with either Johnsen, or pro-choice opinions in general? To be clear, standing Supreme Court standards hold that access to abortion is a Constitutionally protected right. Whether you agree with that being the standard or not, it is what it is. So what, exactly, is going to happen? Dawn Johnsen’s personal opinions are going to result in the Office of Legal Counsel issuing opinions that are…in line with Supreme Court rulings on abortion? The horror!

I can give Ben Nelson a good amount of slack, generally. He’s a Democrat representing a very red state, he’s going to have to jump ship an awful lot to maintain his position. If he votes against Johnsen on the final vote, but votes for cloture, I’ll be fine with that. But this argument is just ridiculous.