|By A.D. Freudenheim||
11 March 2002
Washington, D.C. - March 11, 2002 - President George W. Bush appeared before reporters today, speaking about the process for selecting new judges for federal courts, and to defend his nominee from attack. "I think all of this is just unnecessary politics, and I am not interested in playing this game with Congress. Their responsibilities, as spelled out in the Constitution, are quite clear, and I expect them to follow through. I am shocked, absolutely shocked, by their obstreperosity in this situation. If the Senate cannot find its way clear to confirm my nominee, I will have to direct Attorney General Ashcroft to look into treason charges against them for violating the law of this great nation."
[Later, when confronted with the text of the Constitution by Mr. Ashcroft, who - as the nation's highest-ranking law enforcement officer, and a former Senator - noted that under the Constitution the Senate clearly has the right and responsibility to confirm such Presidential nominations, Mr. Bush reportedly responded that he was not interested in Mr. Ashcroft's former fraternity allegiances, and expected more assistance in pressing his case that politics is not supposed to be part of the Washington game.]
The President then responded to additional questions from reporters. Asked about how he felt about the results from a number of recent primary elections, including an important gubernatorial primary in California, the President responded with equal anger. "I am shocked by the outcome in California, and most particularly surprised that the good citizens of that great state would actually make a trip to the polls, instead of relying on others to do it. I had thought that after my election and what-have-you last year, that this would not be a problem, but it is unfortunate for my good friend Richard Riordan that not as many Californians got the message the way the folks in Florida did. It's unnecessary politics, if you ask me. But then, I don't have a brother who's the governor out there."
[White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer later amended the President's remarks, noting that the President had not meant either to discourage voters from voting, or specifically to discourage members of the Republican party from participating in the California primary. Instead, Fleischer said, the President merely meant to express his surprise at the volume of voters who took time out from the beach or their other busy schedules in order to participate in a process that requires such political dedication, particularly to support a candidate that the President himself had not endorsed.]
A number of other questions were asked, including several specifically directed to energy-and-Enron related issues, and queries about whether the President was worried that Democrats would be able to capitalize on some notable GOP retirees to gain more Senate and House seats in the upcoming election. It appeared at one point that Mr. Bush was becoming impatient with the line of questioning, but quickly tempered his mood by saying the following, as a conclusion to his public briefing.
"Look, I know what politics are like, and I, it's not like I haven't had to deal with people of different views before. When I was in Texas, I met with people from the other side of the fence quite regularly. But here in Washington, what's different is that these folks, like Senator Daschle and Congressman Frank, they seem to want to stay on their side of the fence, and that's the political part I have trouble with."
| "Bush Defends Federal Court Nominee," The Associated Press, 6 March 2002, 12:17pm.||
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