MSNBC's First Read captures what looks like a slip by Senator Thompson:
“The president called me up and asked me to help shepherd judge John Roberts’ nomination through the Senate confirmation process. I was honored that I got that call. I was honored that he thought I had enough friends on the Democratic side that they wouldn't run me out of town!
“We fought hard against each other, but I always thought that we had mutual respect. And that's what it takes.
“Even though the other party controlled the Judiciary committee, we got some votes there. For a good, sound, what I would call conservative justice.”
Obviously, the GOP controlled the Senate in 2005. They had a 10-8 majority on the Judiciary Committee. The Committee Chair was Arlen Specter, who infuriated conservatives with his handling of the committee. Many felt that Specter let Pat Leahy (the ranking Democrat) and other Democrats run roughshod over the Republican majority.
If you don't recall this, check out National Review's the Corner for the period in question. Look at this post from John Miller in November, 04:
Republicans increased their control of the Senate this week, but if they make Arlen Specter chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, they may effectively lose control of the judicial nominating process. It's amazing how President Bush pulled this guy over the finish line in April, when he was nearly defeated in a primary, and now Specter is issuing threats to the White House on judges. Specter is probably entering his final term now, which means that he's completely unaccountable to anybody. Watch out.
Or from Mark Levin in October 2005:
Specter on 10/11/05 (AP): "Conservatives are giving President Bush an unfair 'pummeling' over his selection of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court, Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter said Tuesday. ... The nomination has drawn criticism from conservatives who say Miers lacks proven conservative credentials and a judicial background. They want more information on whether she would vote to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. 'I'm really sorry that on doctrinal grounds they don't understand that she cannot tip her hand on Roe. I really think ... they're failing to understand a very basic constitutional principle of judicial independence,' Specter, R-Pa., said in an interview with reporters and editors from The Associated Press."
And this from Kathryn Lopez -- January, 2005:
Arlen Specter makes the wife of a former Pa. Democratic congressional candidate general counsel for the Judiciary Committee.
I look to National Review because they were the clearest voice in 2005 about how conservatives viewed Specter's leadership of the Committee. If you ask the team at the Corner, they will tell you that Fred Thompson is absolutely right. It might have been a mistake on Thompson's part, but he could be forgiven for not remembering that the Republicans were nominally in control.