Rice is not alone in her failed bid

  • Article by: RICHARD S. DUNHAM , Hearst Newspapers
  • Updated: December 13, 2012 - 7:54 PM

The ambassador to the United Nations joined a list of 10 presidential choices who didn't end up with the job.

Susan Rice, who withdrew her name from consideration to be Secretary of State, joins a list of ill-starred presidential picks over the past half century. Some, like Rice, were never nominated. Some withdrew. Others were rejected. Here's a look at 10 choices who didn't end up with the job:

ABE FORTAS

President Lyndon B. Johnson's choice to replace Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren was blocked by Republicans led by South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond. Fortas was already a Supreme Court justice and LBJ wanted to promote him to chief justice. But before the battle was over, Fortas had resigned his seat and the GOP ran out the clock on the Johnson administration, leaving Richard Nixon with a chance to shift the court to the right.

G. HARROLD CARSWELL CLEMENT HAYNSWORTH

Nixon's choice for Chief Justice, Warren Burger, won easy confirmation in 1969. But the Senate rejected two Nixon choices for another high court vacancy: Clement Haynsworth and G. Harrold Carswell. Haynsworth was tarnished by accusations of being a segregationist and Carswell was accused of being both extreme and underqualified. Sen. Roman Hruska, R-Neb., may have hammered the nail in Carswell's political coffin when he defended him this way: "Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they?" Minnesota judge Harry Blackmun was later confirmed.

MILDRED LILLIE

The California appeals court judge might have become the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court. Nixon in 1971 announced his intention to choose her, but the American Bar Association deemed her "unqualified." The Democrat served as an appellate judge for 44 years.

ROBERT BORK

The federal appeals court judge became a verb (to be "borked") when President Ronald Reagan chose him for the Supreme Court in 1987. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., led the opposition, roaring: "Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is --and is often the only --protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy." Bork was rejected, 58 to 42.

DOUGLAS GINSBURG

Reagan's first choice to follow Bork was federal appellate Judge Anthony Kennedy, but Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., threatened a filibuster against the "liberal" Republican. Not eager for a fight, Reagan opted for appeals court judge Douglas Ginsburg, saying his confirmation was "vitally important to the fight against crime." Nine days later, Ginsburg asked Reagan to withdraw after admitting that he had violated the law by smoking pot. Reagan then chose Kennedy.

ZOE BAIRD KIMBA WOOD

President Bill Clinton's first choice for attorney general was withdrawn after Zoe Baird acknowledged she had failed to pay federal withholding taxes for a nanny who was an illegal immigrant. Clinton's next pick, U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood, paid the required taxes on her nanny, but the controversy over her employment of an illegal immigrant led to her withdrawal. "Nannygate" changed the vetting process for a generation of nominees.

JOHN BOLTON

The fight over his nomination to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations was messy. President George W. Bush picked Bolton, one of the architects of the Iraq war, in the spring of 2005, but Senate Democrats blocked his confirmation. Bush gave Bolton the job temporarily as a recess appointee. Bolton's hopes for confirmation were dashed by the midterm election setbacks suffered by Republicans. He eventually withdrew.

HARRIET MIERS

George W. Bush's White House counsel, his former personal lawyer and a close friend, was the victim of friendly fire. Conservative Republicans said she was unqualified for the high court. Under heavy pressure from his party's right wing, Bush withdrew her nomination.

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