Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Roberts...The Day After

I'm surprised by some things I'm feeling this morning, and no, anonymous, it has nothing to do with your enlightening comments. First I should say that part of what motivated me (and so many of us to be sure) during the election last year was this issue -- the desire to prevent Bush from having the opportunity to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. The very prospect was chilling as he had consistently demonstrated an aggressive antagonism toward our values in his first term. We could not allow him to fill a vacancy on the highest court in the land.

But a lot has happened since last year. First of all, Democrats found their voice and, even after losing seats in both houses of Congress last year, managed thus far this year to be an effective minority party blocking both Social Security privatization and John Bolton's nomination largely by informing and controlling public opinion. Secondly, Bush's approval ratings have plummetted. The country is demonstrating serious buyer's remorse as Bush's facade of moderation has faded and more and more people see him for the out of the mainstream extremist he is. In addition, Sandra Day O'Connor retired to a fanfare of praise for her role as a swing vote, the ultimate ode to the refreshing lack of partisanship she demonstrated as a justice. And finally, 2 words: Karl Rove.

Which brings me to my gut reaction this morning, which I guess can only be described as "the choice could have been a lot worse." On one hand, the fact that Roberts has only been a judge for 2 years and so doesn't have a long record of judicial decisions is a little scary -- this guy is an unknown quantity; but that can work both ways -- Bush needs insurance against critics on the right as well as on the left so he went with the safe choice, someone with conservative credentials whose inside the beltway status and lack of controversial decisions would virtually ensure his confirmation. Let's face it: the choice of Roberts is the choice of an embattled president, a weak president, one who can not afford another bitter fight, who can not afford to lose another battle to the minority party.

Having said that, we can't ignore how the reaction to O'Connor's retiremement must have informed Bush's choice as well. In the wake of her announcement earlier this month, O'Connor was essentially deified by the media and by most mainstream voices. As a caller on the Stephanie Miller Show said this morning, this court will be known as the O'Connor court, not the Rehnquist court. Bush's desire for a long-lasting judicial legacy demands that he appoint a thoughtful evenhanded justice who will serve to moderate between the perceived divided factions that already serve on the court; the same goes for Roberts himself.

Having these thoughts running through my head this morning, I arrived to work with several e-mails from left wing activist groups in my inbox, most declaring what a disastrous nominee Roberts is; and to my surprise, all I can think is "chill the f- out." I'm sorry, Move On, I'm not going to sign your petition this time; no, John Kerry, you're not gonna get any more money out of me today; and sorry Human Rights Campaign, no nominee was going to make you happy. We need to remember that simply being conservative does not disqualify one from being appointed to The Supreme Court and I really just don't like the alarmist tone being struck by a lot of these groups, opposing for the sake of opposing, exploiting my fears of a radical rightwing judiciary to raise money.

I do recommend the Center For American Progress website, however. It's devoted to informing us about Roberts and suggesting plans of attack for the Senate to make sure that this guy is a mainstream choice. I'm certainly not advocating that the Senate rubber stamp this nominee; some of his rulings and arguments on behalf of the government have been disturbing and we do need to ask questions about his judicial temperament and demand that he answer them. But at the same time, we can not allow the Democrats and liberals to fall into the obstructionist trap that Republicans have set and we should not oppose for opposing's sake.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There you go again, TB ... just parroting the line that Bush's approval is imploding.



Hmmm ... down a bit, but not imploding by any means. BTW, have you analyzed the historic trends for how Bush (or Republicans in general) polls at this time of year? Having actually worked in political polling, my very distinct recollection is that Republicans see their numbers drop over the Summer months, since Republicans inevitably have better things to do than to answer polling questions.

Not that it matters ... I mean, it's not like Bush is sweating out how these numbers will impact his chances of being elected to another term in 2008, right?

12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...




12:47 PM  

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