Confirmation Bear Traps

As Democrats get set to bloody some of Bush's Cabinet nominees, the divided Senate faces its first test

It is a sacred Washington ritual, a quadrennial attempt at human sacrifice to appease the gods of compromise. At the dawn of each Administration, the President anoints his team, and the confirmation games begin. The interest groups on left and right begin to stir and sniff; the oppo research folders get fattened up for the fight; Senators who will sit in judgment begin voicing "concerns" or "questions" about this candidate's qualifications or that one's paper trail. But almost never--only nine times in Senate history--has a Cabinet nominee been voted down. About the same number pulled out rather than suffer the strip...

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