Hillary Clinton and the Mukasey bandwagon

Will she play follow the leader again?

Published October 30, 2007 12:08PM (EDT)

When Chris Dodd said last week that he'd filibuster a deal that would give retroactive immunity to telecom companies that helped the government spy on customers, Barack Obama quickly jumped on the bandwagon, and Hillary Clinton kinda-sorta said she was on board, too.

Let's start the timer again.

Over the weekend, Dodd said that he will vote against Michael Mukasey's confirmation as attorney general, arguing that Mukasey's "position that the president does not have to heed the law disqualifies him from being the chief attorney for the United States." Joe Biden said Monday that he'll vote against Mukasey unless he gets a satisfactory response from the nominee as to whether waterboarding is torture. Aides to John Edwards tell the New York Sun that he'll oppose Mukasey's confirmation, and Obama said Monday that he's against confirmation no matter what Mukasey says about waterboarding next. "No nominee for attorney general should need a second chance to oppose torture and the unnecessary violation of civil liberties," Obama said in a statement.

Hillary Clinton? That's where the timer comes in. Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines said Monday that his boss "is deeply troubled by Judge Mukasey's unwillingness to clearly state his views on torture and unchecked executive power" but that she hasn't reached a conclusion on whether to support his nomination. With the Democratic presidential candidates debating in Philadelphia tonight, we're betting the shelf life of that statement can be measured in hours. If it turns out we're wrong about that, we'll take it as a sign that Clinton thinks she has the Democratic nomination in the bag.

Update: Riiinnng! Clinton's campaign has now issued a statement in which she says that she's decided not to vote for Mukasey's confirmation. Echoing what Obama said Monday, Clinton says: "Judge Mukasey has been given ample opportunity -- both at his confirmation hearings and in his subsequent submission to the Judiciary Committee --to clarify his answers and categorically oppose the unacceptable interrogation techniques employed by this Administration. His failure to do so leaves me no choice but to oppose his nomination."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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2008 Elections Barack Obama Christopher Dodd D-conn. Hillary Rodham Clinton