- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 17, 2001

Senate Democrats have turned their sights on the nominee for solicitor general with a vengeance. Theodore Olson is, of course, not just an outstanding and well-qualified choice for the job, but he was also the lawyer who successfully argued Bush vs. Gore before the U.S. Supreme Court in December, clinching the election for President Bush. Not surprisingly, Democrats stewing over what they perceive to be the injustice of the result have the long knives out for Mr. Olson. Not since the nomination fight over Attorney General John Ashcroft have we seen anything this nasty and unfair.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has been scheduled to vote on Mr. Olson today, after a week-long smear campaign played out in the pages of The Washington Post and Salon magazine stopped the proceedings last week. The issue allegedly is the American Spectator magazines Arkansas Project, i.e. the perfectly legitimate effort to uncover the now well-documented wrongdoings of Bill and Hillary Clinton before they hit Washington with destructive hurricane force. One of the authors of these allegations is embittered former conservative David Brock, who in days gone by uncovered the Paula Jones scandal for the magazine. Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch, who ought to know better, last week postponed the vote on Mr. Olson.
This week, Mr. Olson responded to the charges against him which seem to amount to the fact that he was the lawyer for the American Spectator in a five page letter to the committee. However, Sen. Patrick Leahy, Vermont Democrat, has declared himself not satisfied. Now the Democrats are threatening to shut down todays vote by denying the Republicans a quorum, and Mr. Leahy is demanding that the American Spectator open its books to inspection by the committee. Someone ought to remind Mr. Leahy that this is not Vladimir Putins Russia, but a free country where First Amendment protections apply even to publications on the right. The Washington Post broke the Monica Lewinsky story. Will Mr. Leahy ask The Post to open its books as well? And if not, why not?
Interestingly, among the notable testimonials to Mr. Olsons qualifications and character was a letter from former Clinton lawyer Robert Bennett, printed in The Washington Post yesterday. Mr. Bennett is worth quoting at some length:
"During the several years that I represented President Clinton, at no time did I receive any information to suggest that Mr. Olson engaged in improper activities or actions that crossed the improper boundaries of ethical conduct. While I do not have any knowledge as to what role, if any, Mr. Olson had in the 'Arkansas project or the full extent of his relations with the American Spectator, I do know that Ted Olson is a truth-teller whose explanation of events can be relied upon. I agree with Sen. Patrick Leahy that the credibility of the person appointed to be solicitor general is of paramount importance. I have no doubt that Ted Olson is a man of honor, credibility and personal integrity. He should be confirmed."
It is hard to say that any better.


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