Just when President Clinton had his hands full with "Whitewatergate," "Trooperscoop" and his trip to eastern Europe, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, launched another attack this week.
Hatch is complaining that since Clinton took office, he has left vacant the top spots in two key Justice Department divisions: civil rights and environment, and natural resources."Certainly, the president has to find the right person for the position, but these important posts have been vacant for nearly a year," said Hatch, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Hatch also offered some advice on the qualities Clinton should seek if he wants Republican support when the nominations reach the Senate. That includes finding someone for the civil rights position who will not insist on racial quotas for jobs.
"Assuring equal opportunity for Americans is a vital function of the federal government, and one which does not require the use of racial, ethnic or gender preferences and set-asides," Hatch said.
"The president's choice for this important position will tell us something about whether he is the `new Democrat' he claims to be," he said.
A Hatch statement also said the Natural Resources Division should be headed by someone with a "balanced view" of environmental law.
Westerners have been fighting the Clinton administration over plans to double grazing fees, cut peak availability on hydroelectric power from dams and numerous public lands reforms that tend to favor environmentalists over ranchers, miners and lumber companies.
While Hatch complained about delays by Clinton in filling the posts, he hinted Republicans may not exactly speed to confirm any names once they are finally sent to the Senate.
"I hope the administration does not expect the Judiciary Committee to rush its consideration just because of its own undue delay," he said. "I expect that every member of the committee will carefully review both nominations."