This will be the single most important appointment of the new congress to date. There can be no yielding, there can be no compromise of integrity. This, is where we begin to repair our sorely shattered credibility.
If Chertoff, or whomever else Bush decides to appoint, cannot meet America’s standards of humanitarian practices, he must be refused. If he cannot meet America’s constitutional principles, he must be refused. If he cannot meet those accords between us and the world which seek to ensure fairness and peace among nations, accords such as the Geneva Convention and the Vienna Convention, he must be refused. [emphasis mine]
We know that President Bush will not appoint a multi-partisan consensus builder unless he is forced to do so by a Senate that is demonstratably unwilling to confirm incompetent, reactionary authoritarians. The Justice Department has been horrendously handled by Gonzales, but it is in good enough shape for the career staff and lower level political appointees (between subpeonas) to manage for another seventee months. The Democratic Senate has to make sure that the next Attorney General is a competent, Constitution respecting non-hack.
And that means looking into past actions, past statements, past writings and past confirmation hearings. The Democratic Senate should not trust the bland assertions of Constitutional protections or committment to civil liberties like they trusted Chief Justice's Robert's assertion that he believed Roe v. Wade to be protected by stare decris. The Bush Administration has a record that is not trustworthy, so treat any nominee as tainted until proven otherwise.
The default case of doing nothing is a viable option, and speaking now as a crass partisan, it may even improve the Democratic Senate and Congressional approval rankings as the Democratic base is looking and hoping for some public and prolonged display of a spine that is willing to stop George W. Bush.