Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Scandal? What Scandal? Time To Pack The Supreme Court 

And in primetime, too.

Sorry, Judge Roberts, no Rose Garden ceremony for you. Well, those were always quaint, weren't they. Not really in keeping with that high-octane, turbo-charged rightwing Republican Party of today, with all its powerful new ideas.

I'm writing about quarter of the hour when the President will appear before the nation, with his Supreme Court candidate. As if any one whose paid attention to this presidency could have any doubt about what we're about to see and hear.

This will be the accommodating President, the uniter, not the divider; he will present his choice of John Roberts as a gesture of moderation; the President will praise himself for his good-faith consultation with Senate Democrats, and them for consulting with him. That he essentially ignored all their concerns he will not point out. Nor will he, I'm guessing, portray Judge Roberts as a worthy successor to the judicial philosophy of Scalia and Thomas. Remember, this evening he will be uniting us.

The commentariet will pretend not to notice that both the President's phone calls and meetings with Democrats and his ultimate choice of a man closely identified with the most partisan policies of the Republican party, whom the President himself appointed to the Fifth Circuit, are mere gestures of reconciliation, or bringing the country together, not the thing itself. Is there any more constant characteristic of George W. Bush's presidency than this theatre of appearances?

There is no doubt that Roberts has the legal pedigree, and the smarts that will make it difficult oppose him. I'm not sure, myself, it's worth it for the Senate Democrats to mount too vigorous an effort.

Some effort, yes. If not to defeat him, to question his judicial beliefs as a way of demarking how they differ from liberal conceptions of jurisprudence. But on our terms, not the Republicans. I think the public interest groups would be well to do the same thing. This guy isn't Bork. We can't roll out that kind of effort. With a guy this young, I also think it's a mistake to permanently alienate him from any possibility of rethinking his own positions. That does happen, especially when the political winds shift sufficiently to make a Justice worry about being totally out of step with mainstream Americans.

I think there will be general interest on the part of the American public in this process of confirming the Roberts nomination. Perhaps we should see that process as an opportunity to roll out some new ways to talk about the big judicial issues liberals care about, and the underlying constitutional principles upon which they are based. Republicans have been winning the "define your opponents before they get a chance to" game for decades now, with great success. We know that were a majority of Americans to finally see what's underneath all those pretty, shiny, buzz-phrases, Republicans would not be able to say with such confidence that America is a conservative country. We saw just that happening when Republicans rolled out those same election-winning ideas to justify intervening in the Terri Schiavo case.

Ah, the President is approaching the East Room lectern...

UPDATE Via Buzzflash, Robert's Campaign contributions. $1000 to Bush...

Meanwhile, Dean gets to work at once:

"It is disappointing that when President Bush had the chance to bring the country together, he instead turned to a nominee who may have impressive legal credentials, but also has sharp partisan credentials that cannot be ignored.

"Democrats take very seriously the responsibility to protect the individual rights of all Americans and are committed to ensuring that ideological judicial activists are not appointed to the Supreme Court. The Senate Judiciary Committee will now have the opportunity to see if Judge Roberts can put his partisanship aside, and live up to a Supreme Court Justice's duty to uphold the rights and freedoms of every American and the promise of equal justice for all."
(via Americablog)

Not bad.—Lambert

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