Hope Is On The Way


Kerry's the closest thing John McCain has in the world to a friend. Would he want to run against him?


The first 100 days of any administration are often the most important. Presidents aim to set their big plans in motion and to achieve a wide array of successes. John Kerry wasn't so lucky. Historians, to this day, debate what made Kerry's failure possible, but in reality it could easily be chalked-up to a Republican Congress and Kerry's convictions. It all started with the 2004 Campaign where George Bush and Karl Rove labeled Kerry as a flip-flopper, someone unable to stick to their guns. It weakened Kerry's image in the public eye considerably and made the race so much more of a nail-biter than it might have been. The new president wanted to shed that image and he was going to put his foot down, especially when he knew he was right.

In reality, Kerry knew that his domestic agenda would be a flop. For starters, he didn't really have a domestic agenda, but there was also that Republican-controlled congress that was driving poor Kerry insane. In early-February, Kerry met with Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle in hopes of establishing his agenda. Daschle, who barely survived reelection himself, was now hoping to spread the influence of the Democratic Caucus despite their majority. The composition of the senate was close. Thanks to Kerry's larger-than-expected coattails, Democrats won several tight races (Florida, Kentucky, South Dakota, and North Carolina) and the composition remained exactly the same: 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats. On top of that, Susan Collins was replaced in the U.S. Senate by Democrat Tom Allen, bringing it to 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats. With John Edwards as the tie-breaking vote, the Democrats had a majority. The Senate was still too close for comfort, though, and the Republicans had a solid majority in the House. It was enough to classify Congress as Republican in the President's eyes. It was going to be tough to get anything accomplished, but the President wasn't prepared to hold back.


In his State of the Union Address, the president outlined his goals. The longest portion of the speech was also about the most important issue: Iraq. The Iraq War would be the focus of the President's first year in office and it was likely a winning issue for the President, public opinion of the war was on a steady decline by this point and he could use that to shape his message for the war. The second most significant issue was Afghanistan, to which Kerry devoted a lot of time as well. Calling for unity, Kerry stressed that Afghanistan and Iraq were two very different wars fought over two very different reasons; the President sounded supportive of the efforts in Afghanistan and assured nervous Republicans that the nation would be staying the course and bringing the fight against terrorism to the Middle East. "Never again," he said, "would we experience the disasters of the War on Terror on American soil. I will do everything in my power to prevent Al Qaeda from gaining ground." The message was resolute: John Kerry was going to be a strong Commander-in-Chief.

When it came to domestic policy, issues like health care and education were barely mentioned - it would be impossible to get any meaningful reform on the two issues passed. With that, Kerry made clear he would be pursuing an aggressive tax plan. This tax plan, he implied, would not be any watered down version, either. Kerry called for an end to the insane "trickle-down policies" of the 20th Century. Instead, he argued, we needed a new economic philosophy, one that recognized the highest earners should be paying the highest percentage in taxes. He quoted Walter Mondale, always a risky move when it comes to taxes, by saying that he refused to make middle class families pay more so that millionaires could pay less. Kerry's commitment was unwavering and he was met with a standing ovation by the Democrats. The Republicans awkwardly shifted in their seats.

The Republicans immediately took to the airwaves, fuming over the suggestion of allowing the Bush Tax Cuts to expire sooner than planned. "It's probably the dumbest proposal I've heard in a long time," Trent Lott said, visibly flustered by the notion of abandoning the ex-President's legacy, but Barbara Boxer retaliated, "Even dumber than saying Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, Senator?" The war over taxes was on and the ex-veteran, Kerry, was ready to fight it out until the end. He called meetings with Congressional Leadership to immediately get to work. Kerry was committed to shaping the debate and he wanted to be in on the thick of the talks. It was clear Republican opposition in the House would likely be too much to overcome. Still, the President was ready to stand firm for as long as he could.


After several weeks of meetings it became clear that the Republicans knew they had the votes to roadblock Kerry's tax plan. Kerry wasn't impressed. Chief of Staff Stephanie Cutter was in the thick of the talks, learning on the job, and quickly understanding the position her boss wanted to take. She was the face of the Administration, taking every interview offered and busily working to make the case to the public that Kerry's plan was not just the best plan, but the only plan the White House would accept. The president was convinced that he needed to be immovable, for several reasons. First, he couldn't be seen as a president who, in his first 100 days, was walked all over by a Republican House. Furthermore, he was in the right and the American people knew it, there was no reason to back down when public opinion would turn in Kerry's favor. Hastert, didn't care. The Speaker of the House was also unshakeable in his position. As he put it in one interview, "I'm willing to budge, I'll support further tax reductions on the middle class, but the Bush Tax Cuts are aiding this economy - we can't risk that."

The general public loves a tax cut and the Republicans knew this, by using the sound bite of Kerry calling on an end to the Bush Tax Cuts the GOP was able to manipulate people's perception of the issue. If Kerry wanted to end the Bush Tax Cuts he wanted to raise the middle class's taxes, they forgot the part where Kerry's plan would reduce taxes on the middle class even greater. Stephanie Cutter joined Democratic Leadership in hitting the television sets and making the case for Kerry's plan. Tim Russert had never been begged so much to have an interview with Democratic Leadership in his life. Daschle, Pelosi, and others were all foaming at the mouth for the opportunity to sit down with him and explain why the President's plan would move the nation in the right direction. Meanwhile, the Republicans kept saying that repealing the Bush Tax Cuts was wrong - and that's all they needed to do, the American people didn't follow-up with their research.


By the end of March the deal was nowhere. Kerry wasn't moving and the Republicans weren't moving enough. Finally, Kerry called Congressional Leadership to the White House for one last hurrah. By the time the meeting was over the thought of a deal seemed like history. Hastert caved even more than he had before, in hopes of not coming across as a complete ass, but Kerry wasn't going to budge just yet and that's all it took. Republicans left the meeting in disgust, immediately telling the media that the president was to blame. Hastert made headlines when he said, "For someone that spent a lifetime in the senate, you'd think John Kerry was new to politics. You can't get everything you want when your party is out of power. The American people deserve better." Kerry wasn't upset, in the long run it would work to his favor, he thought.

In the aftermath of the tax debate, Kerry had accomplished little in terms of actual legislation, but he had proven that just because the Republicans controlled the House didn't mean they were going to hold the government hostage. President Kerry wasn't their stomping ground and ultimately the buck would stop with him, and the Republicans learned their lesson. Thanks to a brilliant media strategy, organized by Cutter herself, public opinion the debate shifted as the public grew aware of what Kerry's plan really meant. Of course, the Republicans didn't give up. They were on television just as much, but they were losing ground and by the end of the debate it became obvious Kerry would walk away the overwhelming winner, even though he had accomplished zero.


By the end of March, Joe Biden had returned from his whirl-wind tour across the world. Not only had he gone to Iraq, but he had traveled to every nation within the coalition to speak with leaders about the direction of the Iraq War. Few nations within the coalition were actually willing to commit more to the effort, the only nation that seemed even remotely interested was the United Kingdom, but Tony Blair was not happy with the new President. On the campaign trail, Kerry was very much opposed to the fact the U.S. was basically alone, refusing to recognize the contributions of other nations as significant, it was not the way to win allies in the war. Kerry's entire foundation for staying the course in Iraq was to make sure other nations joined in the fight. Without those nations and their support, was it worth keeping the war alive?

Secretary Biden and President Kerry met over lunch each day of the week - the first week after Biden's return. They sat and talked, discussing the variety of ways to confront the issue of Iraq. It was not going to be an easy task, especially if those within the coalition were largely unwilling to help. Kerry had long been opposed to abandoning the war and calling it quits, but the pressure for him to do just that was mounting. There was no way Kerry could support a proposal to cut-and-run, he would not - could not - do that to the people of Iraq. In fact, he made that explicitly clear in a press conference to the American people when he said, "We've entered this fight, it is not a war all of us wanted, but it is a war we must all accept. I will not leave the people of Iraq with a destroyed nation. I am committed to seeing this war through until the people of Iraq have been treated justly." The tone was harsh and committed, Kerry was planning to stay the course, to an extent.

It was impossible to ignore the increasing pressure to stop the efforts in Iraq. With a lack of international support, the justification was there. Kerry wanted to find another way. He met with Secretaries Hagel and Biden, but nothing they suggested seemed to please the president. Eventually, Kerry called for assistance from an old friend.


When Senator Ted Kennedy arrived at the White House the mood in Washington was bleak. The President's tax plan was stalled and the partisanship in Washington was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Senator Kennedy was a refreshing face to Kerry who had been told that everything he wanted to accomplish wasn't feasible. Kerry blocked off over an hour of his schedule to meet with Kennedy and it was needed, the two former colleagues sat in the Oval Office talking for well over two hours. Their conversation began with who Kerry hoped to replace him in the Senate, with Kerry telling his friend about the plan he worked out with Granholm and Patrick. Kennedy approved of the Patrick choice, and the conversation drifted to how they'd been and such, before beating around the bush ended. Kerry, sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office - the very desk that Ted's brother had sat behind about 40 years earlier - paused. "Hell," he said, "I'm just going to ask you, Ted. What do I do about Iraq?"

Kennedy nodded. The man was old, but his mind was sharp. From the start, Kennedy had been opposed to the War in Iraq. Kerry knew this and Kerry also knew that Kennedy was going to tell him to pull out. To this day, some argue that the very reason Kerry chose to meet with Kennedy was to try and talk himself into pulling support for the war effort. It had been a rough first few months when it came to Iraq and there was absolutely no way that Kennedy was going to tell the president anything except pull the troops out, and that's precisely what he did. As Kerry paced in front of the window behind his desk, he explained the situation to his great friend and close confidant. The nation needed to know, in Kennedy's opinion, that the U.S. would be alone if we went any further, and it was the perfect excuse to seize efforts and bring the troops home. Kerry understood this, he could understand the argument and the justification. What he wasn't sure about was if that was actually the best thing to do for the nation.

He wasn't convinced, not in the least, that ending the war and pulling all the troops out would be a major success for the nation. It would hurt the people of Iraq and leave the mess for future Presidents. That wasn't something Kerry was willing to accept, hell if he abandoned the mission in Iraq it would be very possible he'd have to confront it again before the end of his second term, and that would, perhaps, be the biggest possible disaster. No, simply removing all troops from Iraq was the wrong way to go, but there was another possibility that Kerry was open to.

On January 30th, the people of Iraq had elected a new government - it was a sign that they were moving in the right direction. Would it be possible to redefine the mission in Iraq? To transfer all troops from combat troops to simply training Iraqi forces? Instead of engaging in most of the battles themselves, what if U.S. forces spent their time in Iraq assisting the Iraqi military? It could potentially end the war sooner than earlier expected and it would reduce troop levels in Iraq. Perhaps it was too late to get the plan done by the end of Kerry's first term, but he fully intended to have all troops home from Iraq by 2010 - he couldn't see the war lasting another five years.


The day after the president met with Kennedy, he called a meeting of his national security team, including Stephanie Cutter, Biden, and Hagel. He floated the idea of redefining the mission by March of 2006, and then getting all troops home by January of 2009. Hagel, though somewhat supportive, implied it just couldn't be done. Also at the meeting was George Casey, the general in charge of the forces within Iraq. Casey wasn't so quick to agree with Hagel. In fact, Casey believed that the elections scheduled in Iraq for December of 2005, could put a more moderate government into power within Iraq and that those leaders could pave the way for a full scale down of American involvement within Iraq. That's exactly what John Kerry wanted to hear.

On top of that, Casey was very supportive of a quick transition of U.S. troops from being within the thick of the fight to simply training the Iraqi officials. In fact, that's almost exactly what Casey had advocated for in the Bush Administration. Casey was not supportive of increasing troop levels, as some on the right had suggested, and said that the war could be brought in for a landing in the next few years. Casey's endorsement of the plan was a big step in the right direction.


Biden was also supportive. Ending the war sooner rather than later would help to restore America's image around the world and that, in turn, would make Biden's job easier. He was ready to go to the U.N. and seek approval for the plan, but Kerry assumed it wouldn't be an issue. Still, they would need to inform others within the coalition of the plan. They were months away from that, however, and there would need to be a lot of planning to make this plan happen. At the end of the meeting, Kerry ordered Casey and others to work on a plan to redefine the mission and eventually withdraw American troops from Iraq. The plan was to remain confidential and much of it was hanging on the results of the December elections, but Kerry was optimistic that the war could be brought to an end.

Iraq was not the only international situation arising. On March 31st, Pope John Paul II had developed a septic shock in the wake of a urinary tract infection. President Kerry, himself, was a devout Roman Catholic and the situation attracted his personal attention. While the pope was still alive, the fact he had yet to be transported to a hospital implied that he was on his death bed. Kerry joined the world in monitoring the events within Vatican City closely, praying for the recovery of the pope. Kerry did insist that should the pope die he would attend his funeral at the Vatican and so the Secret Service and others began to prepare such a trip.

But the Vatican wasn't the only trip Kerry wanted to make. He fully intended to be in Iraq by the end of his first year in office. Kerry decided he would spend Christmas with the troops in Iraq. December was in the thick of winter and was reliably safer than a trip made in the middle of the summer, the peak of the fighting season. On top of that, it would be after the elections in Iraq and would give the President the chance to meet with the new government and begin talking with them about his long term plans for the situation developing in Iraq and how the U.S. would proceed. It was a busy time to be the nation's Commander-in-Chief.
NickCT said:
the Republicans didn't give up. They were on television just as much, but they were losing ground and by the end of the debate it became obvious Kerry would walk away the overwhelming winner, even though he had accomplished zero.
The gist of this seems to make it way too easy for Kerry & the Democrats, especially seeing how the GOP OTL has been much better at message control...
The gist of this seems to make it way too easy for Kerry & the Democrats, especially seeing how the GOP OTL has been much better at message control...

Stephanie Cutter is a brilliant strategist and that was a lot of the reason for the success, but by 2005 the tides were changing and the blueprints for support of raising taxes on the rich were growing.

EDIT: I should also point out that that statement talks about a change over time, over the course of many weeks.
Sorry for the late response, I think Casey's Iraq plan is a smart one, but I am not sure if it should be made public as of yet, just in case the more moderate leaning government isn't elected. I imagine the Katrina update will be coming fairly soon, so it will be interesting to see how you perceive Kerry acting in that fashion.

In terms of small bore legislation that Kerry could offer up to the Republican controlled congress, in the 2004 Democratic Party platform, there was a plan to restore 2.5 million manufacturing jobs within the country by the setting up of Investment corporations to funnel money in to small business. Although I'm sure some in the GOP would start to crow about nationalizing venture capital, it would be an interesting policy issue to debate and I think find enough bipartisan support to get pushed through.


The death of Pope John Paul II stunned the world. The entire Roman Catholic faith was without a leader and among them was the newly-inaugurated President of the United States: John Kerry. In his first four months in office Kerry had dealt with two wars and a do-nothing Congress. Now, he was confronting a large issue: the death of the pope. The last catholic to be president was John F. Kennedy - in fact, Kennedy was the first. Like Kerry, Kennedy experienced the death of a pope during his time in office, but the times were different now. Back when Pope John XXIII died, Kennedy was not dealing with a 24-hour news cycle that tracked President Kennedy's every move. On top of that, Pope John Paul II was a compassionate man who had inspired the world. The entire global community was looking at America's president to see how he would react.

Kerry was visibly devastated. Though he didn't shed a tear when he approached the podium in the White House Press Room, he was shaken. He fielded questions from reporters: yes, he would attend the funeral should he be invited; no, he had not spoken with the Vatican; yes, he was mourning the loss of his religious leader; no, that did not mean he would ask the next pope for political advice - John Kerry was his own man.

Pope John Paul II's likely successor would be Joseph Ratzinger. Ratzinger was born on April 16, 1927. He had been ordained as a priest in 1951 and later became a professor of theology at a variety of German universities. The last few times a pope was elected, the favorite for the position usually lost, an ironic twist. Ratzinger, though most people felt he would be elected, was not a shoo-in, mostly due to the trend in recent years: that a pope's likely successor was rarely the actual victor of the election. Regardless, the President of the United States would visit the Vatican for the service and secretly hoped to meet with Ratzinger.


Also attending the funeral with Kerry would be Kerry's wife, Theresa Heinz Kerry, former Presidents Bush and Clinton, and Secretary of State Joe Biden. The sheer size of the delegation was evidence of how large the funeral would be. It became the funeral attended by the most heads of state, defeating the funeral of Winston Churchill, which occurred in 1965. The Mass of Requiem would be conducted by Ratzinger himself.

Air Force One touched down on April 5, 2005, and the next day the delegation made the trek to the Vatican for the Mass of Requiem. They were seated right in front of the deceased pope's body. It was the first time that John Kerry had met George Bush since the inauguration, it wasn't awkward in the least. They were friendly and cordial. As they listened to the mass and prayed, Kerry was overcome with emotion, and began to break down. The cameras caught him wiping away a tear, a very human moment for the man who was accused of being too stiff on the campaign trail in 2004. It was not the last display of emotion Kerry would demonstrate during his presidency.

After the mass, Kerry sought to meet with Ratzinger, and the two were finally in the same room with one another. In fact, Ratzinger had hoped to meet with Kerry as well. The two sat and talked for about an hour. Discussing a variety of issues, such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the two developed a bond. Kerry sought Ratzinger's guidance and justification for trying events, like Iraq. Kerry had hoped for the opportunity to have light shed on the numbers that came across his desk, the number of men and women killed and injured in Iraq. As those numbers grew it became harder and harder for Kerry to realize that each signified an individual human. A boy or girl whose parents would be devastated, whose entire family and community would be mourning - true heroes. Kerry had seen the worst of battle in Vietnam, and it was still incredibly difficult to see the justification for those deaths. He sought to understand them in that one-hour conversation with Ratzinger.


The media was wild with speculation about the meeting and Kerry's breakdown during the service. Late in the night on April 6th, the U.S. Delegation returned to the United States. Immediately, Kerry got to work. He wanted to pass the tax plan, and work with the Republican congress. This time he was willing to concede on a full-out repeal of the Bush Tax Cuts, but he would insist on moving their initial expiration from the end of 2010 to the end of 2007. The Republicans were again dragging their feet. They were all over the idea of tax cuts for those making under $250,00, but they would not concede on the Bush Tax Cuts. The Bush Tax Cuts had been a better part of George Bush's legacy, they couldn't throw them away, and they wouldn't back down.

Hastert and Kerry came to the table, ready to deal. The final agreement would consist of tax cuts for those making under $250,000, the Bush Tax Cuts would go unchanged, and in return, Hastert promised Republican cooperation on expanding funding for PELL Grants. Education reform wasn't a major issue, and Hastert felt it was worth saving the Bush Tax Cuts. Kerry was ecstatic about some movement on education, and the tax reductions for the middle class. It was a win-win for both sides, and the tax plan was passed and signed into law by President John Forbes Kerry. The increased funding for PELL Grants would come with time. Overseas, Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI. At home, the President had gotten some domestic agenda passed, but legislation would soon be the least of his worries.
The next update is the much-anticipated Katrina Response. Any comments on recent updates? (There'll also be a small format change, font and coding wise - it'll still be narrative)


President John Kerry toured the disaster area. Followed by FEMA Director Setti Warren, Homeland Security Secretary Susan Collins, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast as a Category Five and it was one of the worst storms in American history, perhaps because it had hit a city that was often described as a bowl. The days leading up to Kerry's visit had been long and had left the President, and others in the administration, completely exhausted. Still, Kerry pressed on, it was his responsibility. The President was meeting with people from the city, and witnessing the disaster first hand. Setti Warren was going to remain in New Orleans and keep monitoring the situation, something Blanco was very opposed to. It was very clear that Blanco was going to drag her feet, and that Kerry was going to get dragged down too. That's why he had spent the last few days making sure that he did all he could and that he would spend the next few days doing even more.

When Kerry was originally briefed on the situation - the fact the storm would likely hit New Orleans and not Florida - he grew nervous. Everyone was aware that New Orleans would be immediately devastated by a hurricane, especially one of this magnitude. He got to work, talking with Governor Blanco about possible situations. "We must be prepared," he stressed. Blanco wasn't in the most cooperative of moods. She was unwilling to be overly cooperative, but she was willing to ask for money. On August 27th she requested roughly $11 million in aid, which Kerry immediately supported. "We need to be ahead of this," he told advisers. And he was very committed to the safety of the people of New Orleans.

The day before, Kerry had phoned Blanco and Nagin and told them they needed to evacuate New Orleans - the city was in grave danger. Blanco and Nagin were hesitant and Kerry had taken to the press, demanding that Blanco and Nagin step up to the plate and order a mandatory evacuation, of course it wasn't that direct. Kerry was in an interview and was asked what he would do in the situation to which he responded, "If I was Mayor of New Orleans, I would have declared a State of Emergency and I would have issued mandatory evacuations." This put pressure on Nagin, who eventually agreed. On August 27th he declared a State of Emergency and issued a mandatory evacuation. On top of that, Setti Warren, the Director of FEMA, urged Nagin to implement the disaster plan in place for New Orleans - which included busing citizens out of New Orlenas via the city's school buses. Warren pressed that they needed to be careful of the potential for heat stroke because the buses weren't air conditioned, but FEMA would provide the city with water bottles to put on the buses and the windows would stay down during the ride.


Late in the night, on August 27th, the first set of buses rolled out with evacuees on board. Over the next 24-36 hours the school buses left New Orleans and thanks to help from FEMA and donations by local grocery stores, those on the buses avoided heat stroke and dehydration thanks to an abundance of water bottles and ice. Eventually, the people of New Orleans were leaving the city in preparation for a major hurricane. Setti Warren was all over the situation, coordinating evacuations and working with Ray Nagin. Warren's youth and energy contributed to the success of the Kerry Administration's response.

After the storm had hit, Kerry was touring the disaster area. He surveyed damage in Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, and Alabama - taking in the immense amount of damage. It quickly transformed Kerry and changed his perception of the disaster. When he was on the phone with Governor Blanco and being briefed by his staff he had no idea how bad things were going to get - it was devastating for Kerry to witness, the true power of Mother Nature had been unleashed before his very eyes. It was a difficult moment for the new Commander-in-Chief.

When the tour of the damage was over, Kerry continued to insist on federal oversight of the cleanup and rebuilding. In fact, the President insisted on federal aid and pushed congress to millions of dollars in aid to the neighborhoods and cities that were rocked by Katrina. On top of that, the president fought Governor Blanco to allow him to put the Louisiana National Guard under federal control. Blanco was vehemently opposed, but Kerry was strong in his convictions, it was the right thing to do and it had to be done, for the people of New Orleans. Despite Blanco's objections, Kerry put the guard under federal control and that was that, the president had taken charge.


On September 12th, President Kerry addressed the nation from the Oval Office. He detailed how the federal, state, and local governments had prepared for the landfall of Hurricane Katrina. He then spoke of how the government had responded, and then, finally, he touched on what he'd seen firsthand and what the nation could expect moving forward. When he talked about what he had seen firsthand, Kerry broke down. His eyes watered and he wiped away a tear. It was the tear seen around the world. Some attacked it, accusing Kerry of being too weak while others liked that it was a display of human emotion. The president got through the address largely composed. He delivered another address to the nation one week later. Kerry didn't shed a tear and remained very much in control of his emotions. The address was delivered from the Press Room where he later fielded questions from reporters. He took questions on the response and remained convinced that the government was doing everything within its power to make sure that the country would move forward. "New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast will get past this, we will not waver, we will remain strong." Kerry was firm and presidential, and the contrast between his two addresses pleased those that wanted a compassionate leader and those that wanted someone in control of their emotions.

Another disaster had occurred in the midst of Hurricane Katrina. On September 3, 2005, William Rehnquist died. The Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court was gone and it was John Kerry's chance to make an appointment - to fill the seat. The Senate was just barely in Democratic hands and this was Kerry's chance to realign the court. Kerry's decision would affect the court for years to come, he was ready to offer the nation a new direction in the wake of so much disaster. Kerry's team got to work, it was time to appoint someone to the Supreme Court and Kerry wanted a competent, symbolic appointment.
Solid and effective update, as I think it's plausible that Kerry's more of micro-management type of style would have lead to more cohesion in the response to Katrina unlike OTL. Also the update on the pope's death was touching, and as long as President Kerry continue to establish that personal connection with the American people, he might be able to generate enough outside pressure to let some of his more small bore legislation pass congress.

In terms of who might Kerry appoint to fill the Chief Justice position. I think the consensus pick would be Judge Merrick B. Garland of the DC Circuit. He's young, only would be 53 at the time of appointment, but more of a judicial moderate. If he want's a chance to make history, I would go with Justice Carlos Moreno of the California Supreme Court or Chief Justice Leah Sears of the Georgia Supreme court. Keep it coming buddy!