Wednesday's off-lead by Philip Shenon and David Johnston tackled signs that Bush is close to naming former Solicitor General Ted Olson to replace Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. But the Times was less concerned with Olson's undeniable legal qualifications, than it was with how his nomination might offend Senate Democrats.
"The White House is closing in on a nominee to replace Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, with former Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson considered one of the leading candidates, administration and Congressional officials said Tuesday.
"Reports of Mr. Olson's candidacy suggested that President Bush, in choosing the third attorney general of his presidency, might defy calls from Democrats and choose another Republican who is considered a staunch partisan to lead the Justice Department. Mr. Gonzales is departing after being repeatedly accused of allowing political loyalties to blind him to independently enforcing the law."
After quoting Sen. Charles Schumer's opposition to Olson, the Times continued:
"The choice of Mr. Olson, or almost any other candidate on the list, would almost certainly draw opposition from some Senate Democrats. Democratic leaders had called on the White House to find a respected, moderate nominee to restore calm to the Justice Department."
"If nominated, Mr. Olson would be expected to face tough questioning from Democrats, especially over his role representing the Bush campaign in the Supreme Court case that decided the 2000 presidential election, as well as his involvement in partisan attacks during the 1990s on President Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
"Mr. Olson never denied being a leading figure in the anti-Clinton campaign, but there has been a dispute over his ties to a venture sponsored by the American Spectator magazine known as the Arkansas Project that sought damaging information about the Clintons. Mr. Olson said that he was connected to some negative articles, but that he did not learn of the project until 1997, when as a board member he authorized an audit that led to its end."
"What the Times and some on the Judiciary Committee don't seem to grasp is that having a political point of view does not mean a person will have the slightest difficulty fulfilling his oath to uphold the Constitution."
"The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, led other Senate Democrats in serving notice on Wednesday that they would block the confirmation of former Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson if President Bush selected him for attorney general.
"'Ted Olson will not be confirmed by the Senate,' Mr. Reid said in response to reports that Mr. Olson was a leading candidate to succeed Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. 'He's a partisan, and the last thing we need as an attorney general is a partisan.'
"Mr. Reid's comments, made in an interview with Reuters and confirmed by his office, suggest that the White House will face a confirmation battle over any nominee whom Democrats see as starkly partisan."
Ok, we get it- Democrats think he's partisan.
Shenon again brought up the alleged American Spectator controversy.
"If nominated, Mr. Olson would very likely face difficult questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee over his role in groups that led partisan attacks in the 1990s against President Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton, as well as on Mr. Olson's legal representation of the Bush campaign in the Supreme Court case that decided the 2000 presidential election."