George W. Bush sat down for breakfast with Sens. Bill Frist, Harry Reid, Arlen Specter and Patrick Leahy this morning. The subject was the current vacancy -- and maybe one to come -- on the Supreme Court, but the early report suggests that there was more window dressing than substance passed around with the coffee.
The Constitution gives the president the authority to appoint justices to the Supreme Court "with the advice and consent of the Senate," and the White House is making a good show of taking that "advice" part seriously. Although Scott McClellan refused to discuss Karl Rove's problems -- or his own -- at a White House press briefing Monday, he was effusive when the subject changed to Bush's process for naming Sandra Day O'Connor's replacement. McClellan said that White House consultations with the Senate have been "broad and deep," and that the president's staff has "reached out to more than 60 senators now."
This morning's breakfast meeting was part of that high-visibility process, but the Associated Press account of the meeting suggests that no real news came out of it. Specter talked scheduling; Leahy pushed for a nominee who could bring the country together; and Frist advanced the Republican talking points about a dignified and respectful process.
What did Bush say? Well, we know what he didn't say. "He didn't give us any names," Harry Reid told reporters waiting at the White House.