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1/9/2006
LET’S GET READY TO RUMBAAAAAAL!
CATEGORY: Supreme Court

It’s the mismatch of the century!

In the Red Corner, Judge Samuel Alito; scary smart, learned judge, judicially tempered, unflappable, and given the highest rating by the American Bar Association for competence.

In the Blue Corner, the Democrats; piddle brained, highly emotional, tending toward hysterics, and character assassins extraordinaire.

A full house is expected in the arena as this heavyweight match – and in the case of Ted Kennedy, Super-heavyweight – unfolds before a nation that, at the moment, is trying to come to terms with profound constitutional issues involving privacy and civil liberties in wartime.

In the Blue Corner, the seconds for the Democrats – Moveon.Org, feminists, racialists, environmentalists, and various sundry loons, goons, poltroons, and dirty necked galoots – are pushing their combatants to attack the Judge personally. Failing to find any instances of the Honorable Mr. Alito wearing women’s clothes in public (although come to think of it, they would probably mark that in the Judge’s favor) or pictures of the Judge kicking his dog, they have settled instead on the long standing liberal tradition of attacking a nominee because he is white, male, and conservative.

Of course, they don’t come right out and say that this is the problem with the nominee. So instead, they try and dig up “dirt” showing that he’s a racist because his hometown is mostly white or that he’s anti-female because he’s only had one wife, or that he’s anti-abortion because…well, just because. The circumstances don’t matter. In this kind of match where headlines are generated hourly, the important thing is to throw as many baseless, inaccurate, and exaggerated charges on the floor to see if any of them stick to the bottom of a shoe.

There’s not really much the champ can do except parry the blows to the best of his ability and grin back when Smilin’ Joe Biden accuses him of being a Nazi in disguise. And when that Fightin’ Irishman Pat Leahy wonders aloud whether Mr. Alito is “out of the mainstream” it would be best if the champ merely nodded his head and looked at the Vacuous Vermonter as if he were a serious lawmaker rather than the empty headed twit he truly is.

The tale of the tape in this match-up gives a huge advantage to the champ. His intellectual reach exceeds any of his opponents. And his obvious heft and gravitas gives him a big edge in the weight category due to the unseriousness of his tormentors. His muscular brain is more supple than that of any of his speechifying questioners. And his heart is twice the size of any of his ruthless and unprincipled counterparts.

In short, the confirmation hearing for Judge Alito will be a one sided affair that will show the glaring incompetence of his opponents as their inability to land any blows will drive them nuts.

And if Ted Kennedy can lay off the sauce until noon, maybe we’ll get some questions about where Alito was during the Goldwater Administration - even though he was only 14 years old.

By: Rick Moran at 7:45 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (4)

Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Alito hearings to focus on presidential power
11/1/2005
NUKE ‘EM AND BE DONE WITH IT
CATEGORY: Supreme Court

Enough is enough.

I’ve had it up to here with threats, counter threats, promises, assurances, saber rattling, and hand wringing by Republican Senators over whether or not to use the “Constitutional Option” when it comes to exercising the legitimate power granted by the American people at the ballot box and confirm the President’s Supreme Court nominees.

The Republican party won a victory at the polls last November. They achieved that victory in no small measure by promising to apply conservative principals to the governance of this country. This is what elections are about; ideas. Our ideas won. Theirs lost.

So why is there even a discussion about whether or not the nuclear option is on the table in the Alito nomination? The Democrats have made it crystal clear that they consider elections superfluous to democracy, that the results don’t count unless the outcome is in their favor. They have continuously and consistently sought over the last year to delegitimize the victory of both President Bush and the Republican majority by charging fraud or calling their fellow citizens that voted for Bush mouth breathing, tobacco chewing, bible humping red state goobers who vote against their own interests. They have made it clear that they consider the Supreme Court an arm of the liberal establishment. It exists to enact through judicial fiat what liberals are unable to do through local, state, or national legislative action.

The reason, of course, is a small matter of elections; liberals cannot get enough of their ideological brethren elected at any level of government to turn some of their loonier ideas into the law of the land. But being liberals and believing that they know in their bones what is best for the rest of us, they have sought for thirty years to use the courts and turn this country into a nation of simpering, whining victims; a place where every class, every race, every age group, every ethnic and religious minority is granted a special status above and beyond the rights they are normally vouchsafed as American citizens. These are the natural rights of man, brilliantly annunciated and codified into law more than 200 years ago in the Constitution of the United States by men who had more than a passing familiarity with tyranny. The Founders’ experience with oppression along with their reliance on more than 2000 years of western thought regarding a citizen’s relationship with government led to a doctrine that dispersed the government’s power by creating three separate but equal branches to rule the affairs of men.

But something happened to that doctrine as America entered its third century of existence. A small, powerful elite sought to bypass politics and elections altogether by turning the courts into “super-legislatures.” Here’s McQ at Q & O Blog: commenting on a David Corn article urging Democrats to oppose Alito because he is conservative;

I can only hope that the Democrats will do precisely as Corn suggests. Because if they do, they will demonstrate for all to see that they consider the court to be a sort of super-legislature and not a judicial body.

Instead, the court’s job is interpretation and they decide cases through the power of judicial review as outlined in Marbury v. Madison.

It is not a question of “where these men and women may lead the nation”. They’re not leaders. Leaders, in this form of government are elected. Instead, they’re reviewers and interpreters. They make decisions based on their review and interpretation, but only about the Constitutionality of the law upon which the case is based.

Corn’s suggested strategy demonstrates how deeply the left has bought into the premise that it is the court’s job to enact what the left has been singularly unsuccessful in passing in the legislatures of the nation. And, of course, he would argue that his approach isn’t activist, but instead the job of the court as he sees it.

In the upside-down cuckoo land occupied by Democrats like Senator Ted Kennedy, the very fact that Judge Alito has evidenced a conservative judicial philosophy means he is a danger to the republic; an outrageous notion that should be denounced as demagoguery by every thinking American. The point being, of course Alito is a conservative. A conservative President won re election last November. A conservative Senate was seated as a result of a free and fair contest at the ballot box. Kennedy’s ideas lost; Bush’s ideas won. Ergo, unless the Senator is willing to argue that the American people are ignorant fools who wish to sow the seeds of their own destruction by electing people who will enslave them, then he should keep his mouth shut. Especially after issuing this statement in which he outlines exactly what he thinks the courts role in society should be:

Although he is clearly intelligent and experienced on the bench, that is only the beginning of our inquiry. If confirmed, Alito could very well fundamentally alter the balance of the court and push it dangerously to the right, placing at risk decades of American progress in safeguarding our fundamental rights and freedoms.

After stating that he believed in a diverse bench, President Bush took the nation a step backwards today. Apparently, he couldn’t find a woman or minority or a mainstream nominee that meets the litmus tests of the right wing, and instead put forth a nominee with a troubling record on the rights and freedoms important to America’s families.

Putting aside the “diversity” fallacy for a moment, I challenge the Senator to show me where in the Constitution it says that the Supreme Court must be “balanced.” Balanced with nominees acceptable to losers of elections? An interesting concept – if your ideas have been rejected on a pretty regular basis for two decades. I can understand why the Senator wishes “balance” on a court when that is the only way to get judges who reflect his view of what “fundamental rights and freedoms” truly are. I can guarantee you what Ted Kennedy considers “fundamental” to his constituency of racialists, greenies, one worlders, and anti-religious bigots is not the same was what you or I would. That fact alone should cause every Republican Senator worth his salt to stand up and be counted when the time comes to invoke the nuclear option in order to get an up or down vote on Judge Alito.

It will be interesting over the next few weeks to watch as liberal special interest groups try and hold Democratic Senators’ feet to the fire on filibustering this nominee. If they wish to make their Senators walk the plank by trying to block someone that anyone with more than a passing interest in current events will be able to see is well qualified to sit on the Supreme Court, let them have at it. The old political axiom “Never get in the way of your opponent when they’re in the process of destroying themselves” should be in effect for next November’s mid terms.

By: Rick Moran at 11:12 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (7)

Virtual Fret Noise linked with 'Say hello to my little friend...'
WILLisms.com linked with Some Call It A Bonfire (Or Carnival) Of Classiness...
10/31/2005
ALITO: THE GAME IS AFOOT
CATEGORY: Supreme Court

Now he’s gone and done it.

President Bush today named appeals court Judge Samuel A. Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court. Alito, 55, serves on the Philadelphia-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, where his record on abortion rights and church-state issues has been widely applauded by conservatives and criticized by liberals.

Alito, appointed to the appeals court in 1990 by George H.W. Bush, has been a regular for years on the White House high court short list. He was also among those proposed by conservative intellectuals as an alternative to Harriet Miers, the White House counsel who withdrew as the nominee last week.

Some Democrats, including minority leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev), have threatened to oppose Alito, however.

It’s War! War! Cry Havoc and let slip the dogs of ditto!

Now, a fat, old, curmudgeonly man such as myself might ask a simple question like “Hey George! Why didn’t you nominate this guy the first time around?” You and I might not like the answer to that one so let’s just let sleeping dogs lie and concentrate on the upcoming Fight of The Century.

If you think you’ve heard apocalyptic rhetoric from the loons on the left prior to this, I’ve got news for you; the outpouring of invective, gloom, doom, and hand wringing on the part of liberals will make anything previously pale in comparison. Listening to them, you may be fooled into thinking that securing the nomination of Judge Alito to the Supreme Court will end all life on earth or, at the very least, cause the sky to blacken, the moon turn red as blood, the stars fall from their sphere’s in the sky, and the sun to grow dark. In short, even though many of the Moveon crowd would be angry at the comparison, their rhetorical excesses will evoke images from the bible, the Koran, and probably the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead.

I’m laying odds that the first commercial showing a pregnant woman slinking down a dirty back alley to be met at a door by a Dr. Frankenstein look-alike with a rusty saw in his hand will be out by next week. And don’t forget the weeping celebrities who will threaten to move out of the country if Alito is confirmed. This time, let’s send them one way tickets to to Kathmandu just to shut them up.

On a more serious note, the blood left on the floor after this fight will probably mean that Republicans will keep control of the Senate next year. As long as other issues like the economy and the war don’t get much worse, enough of the base will be energized to come out and vote to keep the Republican majority in the upper house secure for 2 more years. While this is good news, it is legitimate to ask about the long term effects of 1) the probable use of the nuclear option to ram the nomination home, and 2) electoral prospects for Republicans in 2008.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the nuclear option will be necessary to confirm Judge Alito. There is no way enough Senate Democrats can be peeled away from their addiction to the far left money machine represented by Moveon, International ANSWER, George Soros, and the Kos Kids to name a few, not to mention the real political power of NOW and NARAL that can be exercised within the party’s presidential nomination process, so that a filibuster can be beaten. Abortion rights is an Ur issue with these groups and they will make it known that they will be absolutely pitiless toward any Democrat who votes to confirm Alito. As the potential deciding vote on overturning Roe, the leftist interest groups simply cannot take a chance that he would vote to negate the decision.

As far as 2008, there is a real possibility that the use of the nuclear option will be seen as the kind of raw exercise of power that the American people so mistrust in politicians. So while Republican prospects in 2006 may not be affected, the breaking of the filibuster by invoking the nuclear option could hurt the party’s chances in 2008. As we’ve already seen, the Democrats will use apocalyptic rhetoric against the breaking of the filibuster as they did last May prior to the agreement involving the “Gang of 14.” Look for the same kind of nonsense used here as well as the Democrats attempt to make it an issue during the Presidential election of 2008.

I’ll leave it to others to dissect Alito’s abilities as well as his decisions. But the political impact is clear already. As Cypher says after Neo takes the red pill in The Matrix:

“It means buckle your seatbelt, Dorothy, ‘cause Kansas is going bye-bye. “

UPDATE

Michelle Malkin had the story early and does her usual extraordinary job rounding up both MSM and blog reaction.

The Captain seems a bit optimistic:

I expect that the Democrats will get 30-35 votes in favor of a filibuster once Alito gets out of committee. If they do consider a filibuster, too many of them will realize that Stevens might get replaced during this term (he’s 85 years old). They need that potential stop on Senate business to protect a genuinely liberal seat on the Court—and enough of them won’t agree to tossing it aside before the 2006 elections, when they might narrow the gap in the Senate, in order to keep Alito off the bench. They also won’t want to fight over obstructionism again during the next cycle, or the Democrats might well lose more Senate seats in the midterms.

Expect Alito to get confirmed, 65-35.

I hope he’s right. The question is, how many Democratic Senators are beholden to their base for money and votes? If you answered all of them, you win a cookie. There will be a filibuster unless Harry Reid, George Soros, and women’s groups all have a press conference announcing they are supporting Alito. In fact, the prospect of an internal fight within the Democratic party over the use of the filibuster could be in the offing.

By: Rick Moran at 8:49 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (11)

American Dinosaur linked with RtR SCOTUS OPERANDI Edition
Stop The ACLU linked with ACLU Concerned Over Alito and Abortion
The Glittering Eye linked with It’s Alito
Stop The ACLU linked with Bush Nominates Samuel A. Alito for Supreme Court
10/28/2005
A PYRRIC VICTORY FOR OPPONENTS OF MIERS

This article originally appears in The American Thinker

The withdrawal of Harriet Miers to be Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States was due in no small part to a tiny, but very influential group of conservative writers and thinkers who viewed the nomination of the President’s personal lawyer as a betrayal of both conservative principles and the President’s own election year promise to nominate strict constructionists to the high court. And now that these advocates have succeeded, the question must be asked of them: What have you gained?

The President has been humiliated and weakened. Democrats have been strengthened and emboldened. The conservative movement is in disarray. And the chances of actually confirming one of their favorites – either Judge Janis Rogers Brown or Priscilla Owens – are about as likely as my pet cat Snowball being capable of reciting the Gettysburg Address.

In fact, I am hard pressed to think of anything the opponents of Miers have gained either for themselves or the conservative movement. Putting on a brave front and declaring that the withdrawal of Miers is a victory for conservative principles is wishful thinking. A fat lot of good those principles will do you when the fallout from this Presidential humiliation depresses turnout in next year’s election and hands the Senate to the Democrats. Of course there are other factors at play when it comes to elections but for good or ill, the base of evangelical Christians who have been the President’s strongest supporters – and the most difficult voters to get to the polls in the first place – were the biggest and most enthusiastic supporters of the nomination. They may decide that their interests lie elsewhere on election day.

I can understand the comeback from Miers’ opponents that the President himself is to blame for nominating her in the first place. There is much truth in that statement as I devoutly wish the President could have seen his way clear in nominating a Brown, an Owens, or a Luttig. Any of those worthies would have been a fine choice for conservatives. Such a selection would have been praised and eagerly supported by the very same folks who opposed the Miers nomination.

But politics is the art of the possible. I daresay that prior to the Miers nomination, it would have been a bruising, uphill battle to get 50 votes for one of those nominees in the Senate. And, since it is extremely likely that the Democrats would desperately oppose the nomination of any conservative of that stripe given that their base would be insistent on countering any move that had the slightest chance of putting a Justice on the Supreme Court who would tip the balance against Roe v Wade, the only option available to the Republicans in the Senate would be the use of the so-called “nuclear option” to break a left-wing filibuster.

Would Majority Leader Frist have the 51 votes necessary to break the log jam? If he couldn’t get the caucus to vote for it last May prior to the deal on lower court nominations made by the so-called “Gang of 14,” how could they possibly believe that Frist would have the votes now? The President is weaker. Republicans are weaker. And we’re that much closer to the 2006 mid terms. Every poll taken on the use of the nuclear option has shown a clear majority of Americans opposed to it. And it is not at all clear that Republican moderates like Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Lincoln Chaffee, and others wouldn’t oppose both the nomination of a Pro-Life candidate and the use of the nuclear option to end any filibuster.

Now the withdrawal of Miers has made the nomination of any strong conservative extremely problematic. Democrats smell blood in the water and, given the President’s weakened position,would feel no compunction about a filibuster, daring Republicans to break it. There is little doubt that the left-wing base of the Democratic party would hold their Senator’s feet to the fire in order to prevent at all costs the nomination of a Supreme Court Justice who would vote to overturn Roe. It is the Ur issue for almost all the interest groups who spend so much in “independent” ads on behalf of Democrats.

And yet, the Miers opponents have not seemed to grasp the fact that by opposing her nomination and now causing her withdrawal, it has cut the legs from underneath the President and the party at a crucial time. Is there much doubt as to the timing of Mier’s withdrawal what with the Special Prosecutor’s indictments coming today? The President, as all Presidents must do, has cut his losses by accepting (or asking for) the withdrawal in order to clear the decks to face what is going to clearly be the crisis of his Presidency. These indictments will dominate the news for weeks. And if what I’ve heard coming from Administration surrogates over the past few days about how the charges will not be serious, that the crime of outing a covert CIA agent has been proven wrong, then the White House is seriously underestimating the impact these indictments will have on voters.

Fairly or unfairly, Republicans are in no position to talk about perjury being an inconsequential criminal act. No matter the whys and wherefores of the charges, the American people would see any such effort by Republicans to paint the transgressions of Libby, Rove and the rest as a case where “everybody does it” or worse, “it’s not that serious of an offense” as rank hypocrisy given the Clinton troubles.

The President may have lanced a boil on his Administration by killing the Miers nomination but at what cost? Given that the nomination of a strong conservative is not in the offing, who are we likely to get?

It would have to be someone who has already been vetted for the high court since the White House plans on announcing another choice as early as this weekend. And like it or not, the demands of “diversity” on the court by both the press and the Democrats resonates with a majority of Americans. Plus, it is apparent that the President would love to nominate the first Hispanic Justice. If not a woman, then how about Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez?

These same conservatives who opposed Miers have largely made it clear that Gonzalez would be unacceptable. The Attorney General supports affirmative action and is identified as a moderate on some social issues. Sound familiar? If you thought you heard the same things about Harriet Miers you are correct. Gonzalez would be grilled mercilessly by Democrats on the Judiciary Committee over the so-called “Torture Memos” where, in the first days of the War on Terror the Administration was groping for a policy on detainees and the memos offered options and opinions on what was legal and what should be done. But in the end, like Justice Roberts, Gonzalez may be able to garner enough Democratic votes to kill any possibility of a filibuster.

This is what the President needs at this moment; a slam dunk, fairly easy win. Conservatives have stepped up the rhetoric over the last 24 hours and seem eager for a fight. But did it ever occur to them that maybe the President isn’t quiet as enamored of the idea of going to war with the Democrats in the Senate? Perhaps the President is interested in getting some of his dormant legislative agenda enacted for this term? Any long, drawn out fight in the Senate over a Supreme Court nominee would derail the efforts to reform social security, enact tax reform, or any number of other issues near and dear to the President’s heart.

The clock is ticking on the Presidency of George Bush. I’m sure he is painfully aware of that fact. The derailment of the Miers nomination has speeded up that clock which is now ticking toward a day when the President’s power to affect that national agenda is severely limited by his lame duck status.

While the President’s troubles are not all of their doing, the opponents of the Miers nomination have been most unhelpful. And the fact that they have gained little but ideological satisfaction from their actions makes me question whether or not they truly realize the damage they have done to the Presidency of a man they still profess to support and admire.

10/27/2005
THE BEST POSSIBLE OUTCOME

The withdrawal of Harriet Miers from consideration for Supreme Court Justice is the best possible outcome to a messy, family quarrel. The damage to the President will be minimal within the party although how it will play in the hinterlands is an entirely different matter. The important thing is that a source of friction in Republican ranks will have been eliminated at a most opportune moment.

I have little doubt that the White House sees the writing on the wall with regards to the Special Prosecutors impending indictments of high level administration officials in the Plame Affair. They perhaps even have advanced knowledge of who might be on Fitzgerald’s chopping block. All signs point to at the very least an indictment on perjury for Scooter Libby along with probable obstruction of justice charges. But the President’s real worry is the possible exposure of his top aide Karl Rove to charges of perjury.

In this context, the withdrawal of Miers can be seen as strengthening the President’s hand as now there will be no excuse for Republicans not to stand shoulder to shoulder with the President through what is going to be the roughest part of his Presidency. The storm about to break in Washington among the media and the left will be loud and long. The indictments will dominate the news for weeks. A united party will help offset the drumbeat of criticism that is sure to follow any actions by the Special Prosecutor.

If Rove especially has to walk the plank, Republicans must close ranks around the President to avoid a disaster – near term, anyway. Any hint of Republican disunity could doom the President’s legislative agenda for the remainder of his term. As I wrote here, any fracturing of the Republican party at this point would make Bush a lame duck long before his time. And the question of how this will play in the 2006 midterms is anyone’s guess but I suspect that much will be forgotten by next November and any pickups by the Democrats will be as a result of depressed Republican turnout.

That depressed turnout will be traced to the President’s continuing refusal to address spending and immigration issues – both near and dear to the hearts of his base supporters. And as I suspect that the President many now nominate a Supreme Court Justice even more unacceptable to those who opposed Miers (Justice Gonzalez?), Bush may be faced with more internal problems in the future. But for the moment, Republicans can be one big happy family again – something that will be of comfort to the President after the Special Prosecutor drops the other shoe.

Miers was not just a poor choice, she was the wrong choice. The President has a chance to do things better the next time around, but don’t hold your breath waiting for the nomination of a constitutionalist to the Court. With the Administration on the run because of the coming indictments, Democrats will smell blood in the water and attempt to draw out the nomination battle of such a nominee until after the 2006 elections where they hope to get a majority in the Senate. This would insure a more moderate Justice coming before the Senate for approval.

The opponents of Miers believe they have won. Perhaps they can inform me of exactly what it is they find in victory that makes them happy? The President, temporarily humiliated, the Democrats strengthened, and the probable nomination of someone even more objectionable to them would not seem to be parameters of winning – at least not in my neck of the woods. So beyond ideological satisfaction, what have you really accomplished?

You may have guaranteed a more liberal court than we have now or would have had with Miers. Congratulations, guys. What do you do for an encore?

UPDATE

Michelle Malkin exclaims “Relief!” and links to dozens of others who weigh on on the bad news.

The Captain also seems relieved and writes “Now can we nominate a candidate whose qualities and track record presumes we control the Senate?

Good luck on that one, Ed.

By: Rick Moran at 8:56 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (15)

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10/10/2005
FORMING THE CIRCULAR FIRING SQUAD FOR MIERS
CATEGORY: Supreme Court

I’ll admit to being extremely ambiguous about the Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme Court. That said, I have no intention of joining the crop of conservatives who insist on quaffing kool-aid over the nomination by hoping to either block her or, more problematically, have the President break down and actually withdraw her name from consideration.

Admittedly, the President has left most of us pragmatists with very little choice. The consequences of a Presidential defeat over the Miers nomination at this point in the Bush Presidency cannot be overstated. Fairly or unfairly, the perception of the Bush Presidency has taken several huge hits over the last few months causing his approval ratings (and thus the true measure of his influence) to tumble precipitously. While it is true that Presidents cannot govern via the public opinion polls, it is equally true that those polls are watched closely both by the political opposition and Republican legislators for signs of gross Presidential strength and weakness. And the quickest way to emasculate the President and make the rest of his term an irrelevancy is to have conservatives gather around in a circle and open fire at the nominee.

Conservatives never would have pulled this crap with Reagan. I say that because anyone who has studied Ronald Reagan with an unemotional and critical eye would realize that the Gipper was never one to place ideology above pragmatism. True, he governed in much more civilized times when after a day-long session of partisan name calling, he and the ever entertaining but completely clueless Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill could sit down and throw back a few scotch and sodas while swapping stories. But Reagan also had a keen sense of what was politically possible. When it became clear that his original tax proposal to cut marginal rates 30% over 3 years wouldn’t fly, he negotiated a 25% cut over 4 years with the now defunct conservative and moderate wing of the Democratic party. So despite a huge Democratic majority in the House, Reagan’s proposals squeaked through and became law all because of his recognition and reading of the correct political environment in which he was working.

George Bush may have nominated Miers in hopes of forestalling a filibuster by Democrats over a better known and more conservative jurist. But judging by this Washington Times article that suggests fully 1/2 of Republican Senators may oppose her nomination and John Hawkins unscientific but thorough survey of most of the top center-right political blogs (sorry John…mine must have fallen through the cracks) there is immense dissatisfaction with the Miers choice with some of the President’s natural allies. In the end, I suspect most of those Senators will bite the bullet and vote to confirm but only after much hemming and hawing about the President’s judgment, etc.

More of a problem for the White House are conservative activists who are heavily represented on the web and are actually writing about some kind of bloody coup d’etat to either defeat the nominee on the floor of the Senate or put enough pressure on the White House to withdraw the nomination.

To quote the great country crooner Dierks Bentely, those folks should be asking What was I thinking? Just what do my friends on the right hope to accomplish by weakening the President at exactly the moment when his Administration is balanced on the knife’s edge of irrelevancy? Lame Duckiness is staring George Bush right in the face and here comes a bunch of conservatives running toward this particular gasoline dump trying desperately to keep the match lit long enough so that they can experience the deep and abiding satisfaction of self-immolation.

It’s nuts.

First, if successful, just what kind of nominee do they think they’d get to replace Miers? Bush would have to come up with someone quickly, someone who has already been vetted for high office. How does Justice Alberto Gonzalez grab ya?

I thought so.

So while I’m not quite with Hugh Hewitt and Thomas Lifson that this is a great choice, that Miers is a stealth conservative whose very ordinariness is a huge plus I’m also not with those who are calling on Bush to recall the nomination or worse, actively work to defeat the choice either at the committee level or on the floor of the Senate. That last especially would be ironic indeed. I wonder if Grover Norquist would consider a joint ad campaign with Moveon.org?

By: Rick Moran at 6:34 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (14)

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IN GEORGE WE TRUST?
CATEGORY: Supreme Court

This article originally appears in The American Thinker

Watching the conservative coalition slowly unravel over the Miers nomination these past two weeks has been an extraordinarily painful experience. Despite all of the hard slogging work done by activists of various stripes over the past quarter century, the winning coalition that encompasses movement conservatives, main street Republicans, foreign policy hawks, and religious fundamentalists under one overarching banner is showing some wear and tear. Five long years of bitter partisan warfare, shocking tragedy, economic bust and boom, and a shooting war in Iraq, where the terrorists test our resolve to prevail every single day, produce a certain amount of stress.

This isn’t the first crisis for the conservative movement since it initially tasted electoral success in the 1980 elections. The world seemed young and full of possibilities then, as the landslide victory of Ronald Reagan, along with the Republican capture of the Senate for the first time since 1948, seemed to augur bigger and better things to come.

Then in the late 1980’s, conservatives fell victim to their own success, as the Cold War ended with astounding speed and the iron curtain fell. Politically speaking, these events started untying the part of the Reagan coalition that included what author Theodore H. White referred to as “urban ethnics.” These were white, middle class, blue collar, second and third generation immigrants, many with deep emotional and family ties to Eastern Europe, who were disgusted with the appeasement and unilateral disarmament policies of the McGovern-Carter wing of the Democratic party.

Economically liberal but socially conservative, they were bunched in an arc in what used to be referred to as “The Rust Belt” along the Great Lakes. Their support allowed Reagan to cut into Democratic strengths in the battleground states of the Midwest. Although considered “natural” Democrats due to their union affiliations, the political brain trust of the Reagan campaign successfully targeted them by appealing both to their patriotism and their unease with liberal values.

Then, in 1992, they went home. With the Cold war over, the Clintonites successfully appealed to the economic interests of this group, portraying George Bush 41 as out of touch with “regular” Americans and thus not able to “feel their pain.” Clinton pandered to their values by rushing home in the middle of his first presidential campaign to preside over the execution of an Arkansas death row inmate, and taking issue with rap singer Sister Souljah.

Many of these white ethnics have since made their way back to the Republican Party, as the Democrats have careened further and further to the left. They have become “values voters” whose allegiance to the party can be traced to its stand on issues like abortion, gay marriage, and the family values espoused so eloquently by President Bush. There is ample evidence that these values voters were the difference in Ohio during the election campaign of 2004.

The crisis over Harriet Miers, however, is much different. It reflects a schism not over ideology, but over perceptions of the President himself. While many activists are extremely unhappy with the choice of Miers and some conservative intellectuals have expressed opposition over her supposed lack of credentials, the question of supporting or opposing the nominee comes down to one, simple question.

How much do you trust George W. Bush?

Even before the Miers nomination, many conservatives have had to take deep breath in order to continue supporting a man whose veto pen seems to have been misplaced in the face of numerous budget-busting, pork-laden spending bills from a supposed conservative Congress. And the President’s support for the McCain-Feingold First Amendment-shattering campaign finance monstrosity has enraged web activists whose support has been so vital both to the Administration’s legislative successes and electoral victories.

But it is on the question of judges that many conservatives have nearly lost patience with the President. They have been frustrated by Bush’s seeming acquiescence in the face of Democratic tactics that seek to impede his most conservative choices. He has been given the benefit of the doubt thanks only to the hyperbole of the left with regard to the unconscionable filibuster tactics of Congressional Democrats.

But now the right is faced with a nominee whose name was put forward as someone who would be acceptable to many of these same Democrats. For some, that is reason enough to oppose Miers. For others, it is proof that the President has “caved in” to certain political realities and has arrogantly ignored the advice of his allies, just to avoid a bruising partisan debate. There has even been talk that Miers should be opposed to teach the President a lesson or to purge her supporters who come from the more moderate wing of the party.

This is idiocy. Prominent conservatives such as The American Thinker’s own Thomas Lifson have pointed out the utter and complete folly of such opposition:

I think these conservatives have unwittingly adopted the Democrats’ playbook, seeing bombast and ‘gotcha’ verbal games as the essence of political combat. Victory for them is seeing the enemy bloodied and humiliated. They mistake the momentary thrill of triumph in combat, however evanescent, for lasting victory where it counts: a Supreme Court comprised of Justices who will assemble majorities for decisions reflecting the original intent of the Founders.

All too often, conservatives have followed a “feel good” course of action and ignored what was possible or even necessary. This has resulted in Republicans devouring their own when it comes to Presidential governance. Only an iconic figure like Ronald Reagan could escape the fate of other Republican Presidents like Richard Nixon and George Bush 41, whose administrations were nearly torn apart by internecine battles between conservatives and pragmatists.

Reagan’s stature was so Olympian in the conservative movement that any visible moves toward the center were blamed on the moderates around him. “Let Reagan be Reagan” was a plaintive, even juvenile cry, first uttered by Interior Secretary James Watt, but which became a battle hymn for movement conservatives who thought they saw apostasy in what was actually Reagan’s deftness and agility in pushing his programs through a heavily Democratic Congress.

Both Lifson and blogger/radio host Hugh Hewitt make the same argument: Trust George. When it comes right down to it, pragmatic conservatives have very little choice. It’s not like they’re going to abandon Republicans and vote Democratic. And it is probable that, with a little coaxing, they can be made to come out and support Republicans in 2006. Indeed, as Democratic prospects have improved over the summer, it will become vital come election time that these same conservatives not sit on their hands and refuse to take part – not with the possible takeover of the Senate, or the House, or both by Democrats in the offing.

For the conservative “true believers” however, this is the crisis of the Bush presidency. No amount of stroking by Bush aides is going to assuage their disappointment. In this respect, it remains to be seen if these disappointed activists will fall on their swords once again in a futile gesture of defiance by staying home on Election Day, 2006. If they do so, and if they hand the election to the Democrats, there could be a real bloodletting among conservatives that could split Republicans for a generation and perhaps even give impetus to the creation of a third party.

Any way you look at it, the President has his work cut out for him. And if Harriet Miers falters or comes up short in any way, the coalition that has elected 3 out of the last 4 Presidents could finally collapse in flurry of recrimination and anger.

By: Rick Moran at 9:00 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (12)

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10/4/2005
ON THE CUSP OF IRRELEVANCY

The Presidency of the United States has been called both the strongest and the weakest elected office in democratic government. This is because the President has no real constitutional authority to enact laws, consent to treaties, (theoretically) declare war, or even choose his own cabinet. All of these Presidential actions are dependent on the suffrage of the elected representatives in the Congress. The President can only “propose” not “dispose” and thus in a very real sense is at the mercy of both the partisan opposition and the vagaries of electoral politics in his own party when it comes to enacting his policies.

But the President is not a helpless giant. His ability to get what he wants from the Congress is usually directly related to his standing with the American people. Before opinion polls, Congressmen relied on a keen political ear in their own districts and states to tell them whether or not supporting the President would lead them into trouble. Even today, legislators can get a good sense of where their own constituents stand on the subject of the President’s popularity simply by reading their mail. True, there are organized attempts to influence the Congressman’s position by flooding he email or deluging his office with telegrams. These interest-group driven campaigns are also helpful although are not given as much weight as the letter from the 80 year old grandma who is worried about having her social security check cut.

What this adds up to is one of the truly remarkable aspects of our republic; the power of the President to get things done being dependent on how well ordinary people think he’s doing his job. This is not some pie-in-the-sky, starry eyed first year poli-sci nonsense but rather the cold calculation of power used by both parties, honed to a fine point via the science of polling, and then sliced and diced by experts to determine what kind of influence the President can wield.

Lately, the process has become even more sophisticated as “talking points” for the party faithful are promulgated based on this polling data and surrogates pan out to hit the various cable news shows where no matter what question is asked by the host, the talking points are driven home at least twice in the segment. Then more polls are taken and the process repeats itself. Both parties do it as does the Administration. In this way, the public is cajoled, pulled, pushed, and even manipulated in a dizzying, head snapping, confusing and often contradictory manner.

Surprisingly, people tend to resist a change in their feelings toward a President. This is because most Americans feel that they have a personal relationship with the man in the White House. Even before television and mass media, this was so. If anything, the ubiquitousness of the media has intensified the relationship.

I don’t have a clue what the internal polls of both the White House and the Democrats are really telling them about the attitudes of the American people toward George Bush. I suspect that the numbers are slightly better than the published polls that have come out recently showing the President’s “approval” (Do you like him?) ratings in the low 40’s. As has been pointed out many times by people like D.J. Drummond, much depends on the way a question is asked and who is being asked in the first place. Most public polls are taken to prove a point. The private, internal polling done by the White House and the Democratic National Committee are done to find out what people really think.

And that brings me to George Bush’s choice of Harriet Miers for Supreme Court Justice.

This has been a summer of discontent for Americans as gas prices have skyrocketed, progress in Iraq has slowed, a hurricane has virtually destroyed a major American city, consumer confidence in the future of the economy is down, and there is an overall feeling of unease in the electorate. Anyone who doubts this need only look at the political smoke signals just this past week as two high profile Republicans have declined to run for high office.

Outgoing North Dakota Governor John Hoeven has declined to run for the Senate seat currently held by vulnerable Democrat Ken Conrad while former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar tearfully turned down the opportunity to run against another vulnerable Democrat, Rod R. Blagojevich, for the statehouse in Springfield. This may be an indication that those two experienced and able politicians see 2006 as the year of the Democrat. And in an uphill battle against an incumbent office holder – even against a vulnerable incumbent – it should be apparent that the calculations made by both men included how the President was viewed in their respective states.

Bush’s nomination of Miers for the Supreme Court must be seen in this political context; the President may not have the strength to engage in a bruising partisan fight for someone more experienced and perhaps even more conservative. Not so much with the Democrats but with members of his own party who are running for re-election next year. When members of your own party start to sidle away from you, chances are your Presidency is nearing the point where your influence is waning and the crew feels less compunction is supporting the Captain as the ship is tossed on ever stormier seas.

The Bush Presidency is far from dead. But the President may have to make more decisions like the Miers choice in the future as his Administration teeters on the cusp of irrelevancy. Perhaps an easy confirmation will help him regain some momentum. That, along with the probable passage of an Iraqi Constitution next week could help the Administration regain some of the luster it has lost off its election victory less than a year ago.

By: Rick Moran at 9:06 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (8)

10/3/2005
AN ARROGANT CHOICE
CATEGORY: Supreme Court

There has always been a fine line in the President’s personality between confidence and arrogance. I’ve pointed this out on more than one occasion, especially when it has come to the way the Administration has conducted some aspects the war as well as the President’s penchant for keeping advisor’s who have either proven themselves inept (Michael Brown) or outlived their usefulness (Rumsfeld).

To me, the most attractive aspect of the President’s personality has always been a confidence in his own judgment and innate abilities. It has allowed him to make tough decisions both domestically and in the foreign policy arena that I admire him for and continue to support. It places him on a level far above the craven Clinton and even his wishy-washy father whose backbone of jelly doomed conservatives to having to put up with two terms of a serial liar and pompous ass as well as possibly saddle us with his addle brained wife as President.

But the President’s choice of Harriet Miers to replace Sandra Day O’Connor as a Justice of the United States Supreme Court just strikes me as out and out hubris.

Miers is someone with no experience as a judge, which will anger some legal experts whose good opinion the President will need to get her confirmed. The choice has angered many conservatives because she has no track record on abortion or other conservative issues near and dear to the right’s heart. It will anger main stream Republicans because until recently, the woman has apparently been a supporter of Democrats. And it opens up a line of attack by the President’s enemies who are already charging “cronyism” in the selection.

In short, if the President wanted to piss off the most number of people in the shortest period of time, he should be congratulated.

But of course, that was not the President’s intent. Instead, it appears the President has rejected the advice of Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, liberals, pundits, and professionals and chosen a non-entity to fill the important position of Supreme Court Justice.

It is now an open question as to whether or not the President has become so cut off from real world exigencies that he is unable to gauge the reaction of both his opponents and supporters. This is not unusual in second term Presidents as both Reagan and Clinton showed at times that they had lost the sure political touch of their first terms. It comes from the inevitable staff shake-ups that occur in any administration. It could also signal that the President, a man who did not take criticism well in the best of times, has completely closed himself off to opposing viewpoints. And while I would hesitate to say that the President’s advisers have turned into a bunch of gonad-less “yes men,” it stands to reason that you’re not much use if the boss never listens to you. And by the way, those the boss doesn’t listen to tend to disappear from the circle of power and cease having any influence.

Perhaps there is something else at work here that we are unaware of but I think not. The President apparently decided that his judgment in the matter was so superior to others that it wasn’t necessary for him to listen to anyone else. If there is a better definition of arrogance, I’m listening.

The nomination announcement is less than 3 hours old and already Miers is in trouble. Perhaps the President can crack the whip and pull 51 Senate votes out of a hat but I’m doubting it. It’s also too late to pull back – unless something of a disqualifying nature can be found. Given how carefully the President’s team vetted her for her position of White House Counsel, that’s not likely.

Does this prove the President is a lame duck? Not hardly. Even though the left will spin the potential defeat of Miers as an indication of the President’s diminished ability to lead, the defeat of an unqualified, unwanted candidate for the Supreme Court would not be an indication of anything except the Senate showing good judgment in not having this nominee rammed down their throats.

Maybe we’ll get lucky and Miers will see the storm of controversy surrounding her nomination and gracefully withdraw. Anyone remember Alan Ginsburg? (10/3: Actually, as Erisamann points out in the comments, it’s Douglas Ginsburg not Alan, the Beat poet and author of one of my favorites, the epic poem “Howl.”)

UPDATE

I’m glad I wrote the above post without reading a single thing from any other source because I probably would have been even more negative in my assessment.

About the only positive note is being sung by the unflappable Hugh Hewitt who gives the selection a “B+.”

Elsewhere, not so good.

Captain Ed is “mystified.”

The Powerline crew is “disappointed.”

Lori Byrd wishes she was younger but is willing to trust the President.

Michelle Malkin is “underwhelmed” and does her usual spectacular job of rounding up reax.

Wizbang is not thrilled and links to Red State who has the skinny on Miers rather interesting camapaign contribution history.

Junkyard Blog makes many of the same political points I do.

Could the Prez run to the East Room and yell “Gotchya” at the press and then announce someone else? Not if he wants to be taken seriously.

By: Rick Moran at 11:56 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (28)

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8/10/2005
RUM, ROMANISM, AND REBELLION

I agree with Ann Althouse on this one: Is this for real?

IN THE presidential campaign, a new threshold in church-state relations was crossed when Catholic bishops threatened to exclude Senator John Kerry from the Eucharist because of his support for Roe v. Wade. The Senate Judiciary Committee is now fully justified in asking these bishops whether the same threats would apply to Supreme Court nominee Judge Roberts, if he were to vote to uphold Roe v. Wade.

The bishops have made this question legitimate because Americans no longer know whether a Catholic judge can hear abortion cases without an automatic conflict of interest.

Asking the bishops to testify would be healthy. If they rescinded the threats made against Kerry, then Roberts would feel free to make his decision without the appearance of a conflict of interest, and Catholic politicians who support Roe v. Wade would gain renewed confidence in their advocacy. If the bishops repeated or confirmed their threats, the Senate Judiciary Committee should draft legislation calling for the automatic recusal of Catholic judges from cases citing Roe v. Wade as a precedent.


That’s right. The author of the article Christopher Morris is advocating a law be passed to automatically mandate the recusal of a judge based solely on his religious beliefs.

Actually, this opens up some marvelous opportunities for legislative mischief aimed at miscreant judges. Imagine being able to bar minority judges from ruling on civil rights cases. Or white judges from ruling on reverse discrimination cases. Or women judges from ruling on gender equality cases. Or Quaker judges from ruling on death penalty cases.

While we’re at it, why don’t we make Catholic judges sew a great big red “C” on their cloak and make them clean the Supreme Court bathrooms?

A little too much hyperbole for you this early in the morning? Try not to choke on your danish when reading this:

One would think Catholic judges would want such a measure in place as a means of honoring their own convictions. That this proposal will no doubt be controversial should not be a reason for failing to pursue it: Political advocacy by religious organizations is on the rise and will only become stronger. If the subject is ducked this time by the Senate Judiciary Committee, it will only come up later in a more aggravated form.

It’s time to have this dialog. Without it, the decisions of our highest court, already tainted by the Bush-Gore election, will increasingly be perceived as self-serving, political, and illegitimate.

I like Dale Frank’s take on this:

Why, you know I hadn’t thought about that before. But, while we’re on the subject, maybe Jews could be forced to wear yellow stars, so they can more easily identify their fellow co-religionists in public. I mean, you know, they’d feel so much more secure if they could look around in a crowd and see a fellow landsmann, wouldn’t they?

Please note that all decisions of the Court have been “tainted” for their defiance of the Democratic party in upholding state election law in Florida which was passed by state legislators who were voted in by the people of the State of Florida. It’s amazing that to this day, liberal partisans like Mr. Morris are still grumpy over the fact that the Supreme Court refused to nullify state law and dictate to the state of Florida how the people’s representatives should conduct the business of elections.

But, hey! Why let a little thing like, you know, the law stand in the way when there are Christians to be publicly gored:

In theory, the same Holy Spirit that made evangelicals born again could also move them to change a social or political view at any time. (In drafting mandatory recusal legislation, senators should probe the foundations of these beliefs and persuade themselves that evangelicals retained a meaningful, not just a technical, choice.) Inquiry into Judaism, Islam, and other religions should also focus on whether any of them make threats against members who hold particular views about abortion.

In other words, in order to see if our Christian judge “retained a meaningful, not just technical choice” in their ability to change their minds about Roe V Wade, we should delve deeply into their religious convictions by asking them all sorts of personal questions not related to their ability to carry out their duties as impartial jurists.

Mr. Morris is not a serious man. He is instead, in need of attention. I recommend his mommy come to his home in Vermont and deliver a few well aimed whaps to his backside and give him the love and consideration he so obviously missed out on as a child.

If it’s attention he seeks, Mr. Morris has got it. And perhaps a little history lesson is in order for Mr. Morris and anyone else who seeks to revive religious litmus tests for any issue and for any public servant whose personal beliefs may conflict with the law.

The anti-Catholic bigotry that roiled this country’s politics for more than 300 years reached a zenith of sorts in the election of 1928 which saw Democrat Al Smith, a Catholic, face off against Herbert Hoover. The nauseating display of ant-Catholic bigotry which directly led to Smith’s defeat convinced both parties that nominating a Catholic for high office was the kiss of death.

This all changed in the election of 1960. Historians have long pondered the reason for the dissipation of anti-Catholic sentiment in the electorate that finally allowed for a Catholic to be elected President. At first, as historian Thomas Carty points out, there was even a high level of anti-Catholic bigotry among liberals:

Author James A. Michener recalled feeling quite startled when guests at publisher Bennett Cerf’s early 1960 dinner party challenged John F. Kennedy’s presidential candidacy on religious grounds. In an educated, professional crowd, Michener encountered “American liberals [who] ... had the most serious and deep-seated fears of a Catholic in the Presidency.” One individual called the Vatican “dictatorial, savage[,] ... reactionary … [and] brutal in its lust for power.” Others feared that clerical pressures would determine Kennedy’s political decisions. One colleague declared that “Irish priests” would manipulate a Catholic president “as if he were their toy.” A Catholic at Michener’s table characterized her church as antidemocratic and incompatible with church-state separation and religious liberty. According to Michener, these individuals claimed to know many other ideological liberals who mistrusted Catholic presidential candidates.

Kennedy had to prove to Kingmakers – even Catholic ones like Mayor Richard Daley in Chicago – that his Catholicism would not be a liability in a general election. The first test of his viability was in the West Virginia primary where his main rival, Hubert Humphrey, tried to play the old “Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion” card with elliptical references to Kennedy’s faith.

Kennedy fought back with both political savvy and a few dirty tricks of his own, trying to tar Humphrey as a draft dodger during WW II (he served variously as state director of war production training and reemployment and State chief of Minnesota war service program in 1942 and assistant director of the War Manpower Commission in 1943) while addressing the issue of his Catholicism head on.

In what author Theodor H. White pointed to as a public appearance almost as important as JFK’s speech at the Ministerial Association of Greater Houston, Kennedy was asked point blank at a press conference about his religion. Rather than remain silent on the issue as he had in Wisconsin two weeks before, Kennedy framed the issue as one of fairness. He said “I do not believe that forty million Americans should lose the right to run for president on the day they were baptized.” In short, Kennedy challenged voters to prove they were not bigots by voting for him. It was a brilliant political stroke and Kennedy’s subsequent win effectively ended Humphrey’s challenge.

Later that fall in Houston, Kennedy buried the issue before one of the most conservative Protestant organizations in the country, the aforementioned Ministers group. In one of the more memorable lines, Kennedy once again, gives people a reason not to use anti-Catholicism as a reason to vote against him:

I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish—where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches, or any other ecclesiastical source—where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials—and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.

On election day, the American people made a conscious choice to elect a Catholic President not because of his religion, but in spite of it. Now Mr. Morris would have us choose judges for exactly the opposite reason. In Mr. Morris’ world, either Catholic judges need not apply or they should be hamstrung with litmus tests and background checks and God knows what else. Once you let loose the dogs of legislation on judicial qualifications, we’ll have litmus tests for all sorts of issues; gay marriage, school prayer, eminent domain, and on and on.

For a country founded both because of religious freedom and in spite of religious differences, we’ve done remarkably well in tolerating one another’s religious viewpoints. But politics is another matter. There are still barriers to high office for people of certain faiths that need to come down.

Mr. Morris isn’t helping matters any.

By: Rick Moran at 6:44 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (15)

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