Skip to comments.Is He One of Us?
Posted on 10/20/2005 9:56:38 PM PDT by quidnunc
The bile accumulating on the right toward the White House has reached China Syndrome proportions and is starting to melt through the floor.
Suddenly, conservatives are starting to question whether George W. Bush is even a one of them at all. One of my heroes, Robert Bork, recently wrote in The Wall Street Journal that "George W. Bush has not governed as a conservative. This George Bush, like his father, is showing himself to be indifferent, if not actively hostile, to conservative values." Conservative columnist Bruce Bartlett opines: "The truth that is now dawning on many movement conservatives is that George W. Bush is not one of them and never has been." Even at National Review Online where I hang my hat most of the time several of our contributors have echoed these concerns.
I think this goes too far. Two factors contribute to this misdiagnosis: confusion and disappointment.
Let's start with confusion. Contrary to most stereotypes, conservatism is a much less dogmatic ideology than modern liberalism. The reason liberals don't seem dogmatic and conservatives do is that liberals have settled their dogma, so it has become invisible to them. No liberal disputes in a serious philosophical way that the government should do good things where it can and when it can. Their debates aren't about ideology, they're about tactics. Indeed, the chief disagreement between leftists and liberals over the role of the state is almost entirely pragmatic. Moderate liberals think it's not practical either economically or politically to push for a dramatic expansion of the role of the state. Leftists think it would be a good idea politically and, despite all the evidence to the contrary, think it would work economically.
Within conservatism, however, there are enormous philosophical arguments about the proper role of the state. This debate isn't merely between libertarians and social conservatives. It's also between conservatives who are "anti-left" versus those who are "anti-state." Neoconservatives, for example, are famously comfortable with an energetic, interventionist government as long as that government isn't run by secular, atheistic radicals and socialists (I exaggerate a little for the sake of clarity).
It happened long before, but it is a reflection.
Lets hope not. Good riddance to a quisling. It would be good to get rid of the remaining ones along with a few new illegal alien sympathizers, supporters, apologists, and enablers who are vying with one another for quisling status.
The problem was that the Reagan White House went on vacation and left Bork to twist in the wind. They didn't try to defend him against the onslaught of the Judiciary Democrats.
How about sharing that jalapeno koolaid you're drinking? Must be some strong stuff.
[[i dont need an article, i cited the passage from his own book.]]
The article sited your passage from his book and more that you conveniently left out. Taking only your passage was misleading, if not outright dishonest. There is no mistaking Bork is anti-Second Amendment, he regards it as a states right, not an individual right. Amusing you refuse to admit you are wrong when confronted with the facts.
[[Sounds like the Bush lemmings to me.]]
Typical of you, you have never been able to make a cogent argument. Are you a Buchananite lemming ? Obviously comprehension is not one of your strong suits, nor is attention span, because if you had read what I typed, you wouldn't make your moronic statement. But, then again, I shouldn't have expected more from you. My mistake.
My statement was a generic statement, not an attribution of my position. You do err in citing Griswold as a totally bad decision if it had been kept strictly to the topic that brought it about, contraception. Now, if you wish to break it down to some of the writing in the decision, you have a much stronger case, especially regarding penumbras and emanations. Roe is unequivocally bad law, irregardless of the moral outcome. It equates abortion as contraception, which is a very serious flaw.
The point in my statement was not that conservatives rally around her because she is pro-life, but that democrats will oppose her because she is pro-life. That is why I only mentioned pro-life as why democrats will rally against her. Miers is going to have to give a lights out performance in the hearings and provide conservatives with something solid to sink their teeth into to get them to rally around her. My support hinges on her performance in the hearings, if Bush's track record on judicial nominations weren't as good as it is, I would be against her now. I do not cloud the issue by diverting to other issues I have disagreed with him on that are irrelevant to judicial nominations. It is because of his track record that I am willing to withhold final judgement until the hearings. No, she doesn't have to be a Roberts in the hearing, but she still has to be darn good and she has to offer some substantive answers that give me some reason to believe she will be a strict constructionist/originalist.
I would like to see the question asked "What do you think of citing penumbras and emanations in reaching decisions ?" I also want to know her opinion on citing international law.
Your #194 was a list of reasons the criticism and/or critics of the Miers nomination are "marginal," "wrong," and/or "weak."
Your opening paragraph describes attribues of fringe groups - in particular citing that fringe groups of the leaft and right are dogmatic, "speaking hollow platitudes" and having "a lust for power as their driving force."
Do you think that describes those who seek a nominee for SCOTUS who has specific opinions that strongly suggest they ascribe to judicial restraint?
You go on to describe a political spectrum, from left to right, where the majority of people are somewhere in the middle. Without coming out and saying it, the spectrum seems to be defined in terms of issues advocy. This isn't your list of issues, it's mine: "Should we go to war with [fill in the blank]?" "Should gay marriage be legitimized?" "Should abortion on demand be legal in all cases? (e.g., rape, incset, minors, parent consent/notification, etc." "Is affirmative action to be the law of the land? What about the nature of 'takings' for public use?" Those are all contentious issues, but I think you misunderstand the nature of the social battle as it plays out against those issues. Speaking for myself, the "far right" folks who do not like this nominee are pointing out a critical difference between issues advocacy and process advocacy. And most of the pro-Miers camp is not demonstrating comprehension of the process advocacy argument.
It isn't that SCOTUS will decide these issues one way or the other. The dogmatic Constitutionalist holds that SCOTUS should not be involved in those decisions, one way or the other. Does that make the Constitutional dogmagtist "far right," or "far left"?
You go on to describe the value of incrementalism, probably meaning in issues advocay and legislation, but in this context the notion of accepting incrementalism has the effect in my mind of a justification for settling for less than Bush's promise of a Justice in the mold of Thomas or Scalia.
You say that those who stigmatize Bush as not a conservative on the issues (recall the distinction between issues advocacy and process advocacy), and list advances made on issues, moving them toward traditional values. You even refer to the bullet items as "issues." You also list a number of issues (there's that word again) where his position is contrary to what conservatives generally stand for. And you conclude that on balance, Bush is conservative on the issues.
Regarding the Miers nomination in particular, you admit the nomination is confusing. Hah! It certainly is. But it is clear from your writing that you have not grasped the distinction between issues advocy and process advocacy, and the gap between how SCOTUS now plays into our Constitutional fabric, vs. how a dogamatic Constitutionalist (Thomas, Scalia to a lesser extent, Rhenquist) believes it should.
You also speculated on GWB's motivations for making this pick (leaving out the crony motivation) - that the nominee be pro-life (there's that issues advocacy thing again) who is acceptable to the DEMs. You speculate that in a masterful strategy, GWB anticipated the possibility of rejection, and under that cloud, he can "nominate that conservative we all want and weaken democrats ability to fillibuster." It isn't clear if you are into issues or process advocacy with your "that conservative we all want," but my hunch is that you are thinking in terms of issues outcome when you say that. As for this nomination somehow weakening the DEMs, or strengthing GWB's hand, I just don't see it.
You close with the thought that attaches "trust in Miers" based on the quality of GWB's past judicial nominees.
After all of that, you assert "My statement was a generic statement, not an attribution of my position." I don't care where you personally stand. I am rebutting your defense of the pick.
You do err in citing Griswold as a totally bad decision if it had been kept strictly to the topic that brought it about, contraception. Now, if you wish to break it down to some of the writing in the decision, you have a much stronger case, especially regarding penumbras and emanations. Roe is unequivocally bad law, irregardless of the moral outcome. It equates abortion as contraception, which is a very serious flaw.
This illustrates a confusing of issues advocay with process advocacy; and the shallowness of your understanding of how SCOTUS opinions operate over time. The Court -MUST- give the reason why a certain decision was reached, and it is that reason or rationale that cab be used to advance a liberal social agenda on an issues advocacy basis.
A simple example at home. You tell your kid to go to bed at 8PM. "Why?" comes the question. You answer, "Because you are tired." THe next day, you order your child to bed at 8PM, and the child says, "No - I'm not tired." The reason given is more important than the outcome, and the same is true as SCOTUS steps to handle (or not) the hot button social issues advanced by the liberal left.
The point in my statement was not that conservatives rally around her because she is pro-life, but that democrats will oppose her because she is pro-life.
Democrats deliberatly make this an argument over issues advocay, and the people fall for the trap every time. The DEMs use the issues advocay angle to whip up public sentiment, and too, to avoid a discussion on the merits of process advocacy. Why should the Court make the FINAL decision?
Miers is going to have to give a lights out performance in the hearings and provide conservatives with something solid to sink their teeth into to get them to rally around her.
Anybody who falls for that is naive about the role of SCOTUS in our system of government. My first objection (by now, not my only one) is against the notion of "trying to sneak one by" where I want the nominee to have judicial impulses that resemble Thomas'. I express this objection in my vanity essay, "Uncertainty," the Nominee.
Certainly, her ability plays a prt in this, but setting ability aside for the moment, I have many reasons (based on her answers to questions, her history and the like) to seriously doubt she understands the difference between issues advocay and process advocacy, or in the alternative, she understands the difference, but sees the Courts as justified in rendering FINAL decisions on social hot button issues.
if Bush's track record on judicial nominations weren't as good as it is, I would be against her now. I do not cloud the issue by diverting to other issues I have disagreed with him on that are irrelevant to judicial nominations.
The past picks illuminate nothing regarding this pick, for a couple reasons. First, each pick stands or falls on its own merits. Each nominee is a unique individual with a unique belief set. Second, all of the previous nominations forwarded by the WH (pretty much limited to the nominations for the Circuit Courts of Appeal) included as part of the criteria for being on the list, that the candidate have something specific in their record, that strongly suggested the candidate was someone who ascribes to judicial restraint. ... [lots of snippage - go read]
And you do raise his past performance, but that serves mostly to put some heft behind the urging, "trust him."
I would like to see the question asked "What do you think of citing penumbras and emanations in reaching decisions ?" I also want to know her opinion on citing international law.
Roberts answered the Griswold question well, distinguishing between the majority gave in their rationales. That is a process advocacy approach, and doesn't fall into the issues/outcome trap.
Miers was a bad pick on many levels. It's bad on principle, it's bad for the political fallout, it's bad because GWB has damaged his own credibility. COntrary to your view, I think this pick has weakened the GOP's ability advance a COnstitutionalist, if GWB decides to nominate one.
You certainly do engage in a litany of verbosity, as I am wont to do on many ocassions. Where I see the divergence, between you and I, is you see process and issues advocacy as black and white, a solid line dividing the two that cannot be crossed. I contend that one cannot simply make such a claim because if flies in the face of reality.
My defense, as you call it, of the Miers nomination only extends to her having a hearing, it does not go any further. Hopefully you were able to gather that much. Everybody knows what they say about opinions, we only have past events and precedents to base those opinions on. You clearly put more weight on your perceived evidence from Miers past, while you know very little of her personally. I am willing to concede Bush knows her better than I do, as such, I put more weight on his past judicial nominations and ability to discern their philosophy and positions. That weight ends at the hearings, it is then that Miers must provide the substance and insights that verify Bush selecting her.
Your initial response singled out only my reference to rallying around. I merely pointed out that your analysis misrepresented the words written. Pro-life was only referred to when talking about democrats 'rallying against' her, conservatives rallying around her was tied to her performance in the hearings. Granted, there will be some close minded conservatives that will continue to denounce her no matter how well she performs. Are you one of them ?
While my own verbose initial posting that you seek to critique is an amalgam of differing thoughts and issues, you seek to intertwine it into one stew, if you will. Bush as a conservative and the Miers nomination are separate.
You continue to mix issues when referencing incrementalism to the judicial nomination process, that is simply a diversionary rebuttal. Incrementalism is a wide sweeping tactic for re-shaping society, not something nailed down to single issue orientation. It is how the democrats sent this country down the socialist path, they did not do it in one fell swoop. It will not be reversed in one fell swoop, either.
It appears that your whole response is based upon a foundational argument that process advocacy and issues advocacy are distinctly separate and diametrically opposed. Were this a debate on stage, such a position would not hold up under scrutiny nor would its supporting argument be able to be logically defended as an absolute truth. Reality has to creep into your argument somewhere, and the truth is that issues advocacy and process advocacy overlap in many more areas than they have exclusive and distinctly separate areas. Issues supercede process and process supercedes issues to varying degrees, depending on the subject and the opinion that one puts forth.
Paragraphs are your friend. Ta ta.
"The *only* thing that matters to me is effective continuing prosecution of the war on Jihadists."
You should probably consider again how you think about Harriet Miers, then. If she follows federal ethics law, she will likely be forced to recuse herself when cases based on administation handling of terrorism come before the bench. That means one less vote for 'effective continuing prosecution of the war on Jihadists' on the SCOTUS.
But I'm sure you've already heard that.
I agree with you that her confirmation would not be the end of the world, however. It could be another hurdle the Constitution would have to clear, however, and I think that's the big problem here for many--we're just not sure about her and think we could have been more certain about other nominees.
You are fabricating a divergence. I know full well that process and result are intertwined. My beef is that process is given a back seat, almost ignored.
I am willing to concede Bush knows her better than I do, as such, I put more weight on his past judicial nominations and ability to discern their philosophy and positions.
All of the past nominees (except Roberts, whom I still distrust) were required to have a discernable position. See GWB's litmus test.
Granted, there will be some close minded conservatives that will continue to denounce her no matter how well she performs [in the hearings]. Are you one of them?
I see this as the heart of the argument. Everything hinges on the hearings. Pretend that she literally has no history (she does, and it leans lberal). The only information that is relevant is what emerges from the hearings. Now I can't predict how the hearings will go, she may come out and specifically assert, with rationale, why Roe and Casey and Kelo and Lawrence represent bad Con Law. But if she is true to modern form, she will not answer those questions.
I have little control over how the President and Senators play this out, but my bias is away from stealth, and toward an open battle of ideals. If the GOP dares not to assert traditional Constitutionalist jurisprudence, then I will work to discredit the GOP.
Incrementalism is a wide sweeping tactic for re-shaping society, not something nailed down to single issue orientation. It is how the democrats sent this country down the socialist path, they did not do it in one fell swoop. It will not be reversed in one fell swoop, either.
I agree. But the first step is to gut the notion that courts are empowered to have the "final say." -IF- conservaitve get a traditional SCOTUS, certain issues will be returned to the states. The battle isn't ended, it is renewed on different turf. That is a form of "incrementalism."
You continue to mix issues when referencing incrementalism to the judicial nomination process, that is simply a diversionary rebuttal.
We're just talking past each other. The relationship between process and issue is complex, and my aim is simply to cause "we the people" to shift from a focus on the issues side, to a focus on the process side.
I'm not naive. I know that what I advocate will not come to pass. That does not make me wrong. There is a deep fault in our society - "results oriented" - a willingness to compromise principles of honest, robust dialog in order to reach an end, party over principle, use of stealth to get over on the opponent. I refuse to advocate that, and I will expose it as the ethical and moral bankrupt charade that it is at every opportunity.
It appears that your whole response is based upon a foundational argument that process advocacy and issues advocacy are distinctly separate and diametrically opposed. Were this a debate on stage, such a position would not hold up under scrutiny nor would its supporting argument be able to be logically defended as an absolute truth.
You simplify my point of view, paint it as black and white, as absolute, in an effort to discredit it. "Screw you." My world view is fairly well developed, and sees the relationship between process and issue. I would eat your lunch in a debate.
Issues supercede process and process supercedes issues to varying degrees, depending on the subject and the opinion that one puts forth.
I agree with that. And I argue that in the matter of confirming SCOTUS Justices, our leaders have coppped out, subordinating matters of process to matters of issue.
I see you allow yourself an emotional interlude in your response with 'Screw you' and your self-aggrandizing claim of 'eating my lunch'. The former being emotional irrationalism, the latter chest thumping pomposity.
If you see the overlap between process and issues, as you claim, then why did you pontificate upon it in black and white terms ? I have read many of your posts, and, for the most part, you offer reasoned defenses for your positions, with an ocassional post for emotional venting and release of vitriol. While I may not agree with some of them, I understand them. As far as SCOTUS qualifications go, I see process and issues/results as equally important. The right process and wrong result is no better than the wrong process and the right result. Some could make a reasonable argument that the right result is more important, a weaker argument could be made for right process being more important.
And though many do not agree, I do not see the imperative of a conservative intellectual heavyweight in Constitutional law being a necessary litmus test. The Constitution is a fairly simple document of 4400 words (not counting Amendments) that does not require, even in its own words, such intellectual Constitutional credentials. Any claims that it does, and I know this rankles some feathers, is elitist.
You cite your 'opinion' of her past that has been revealed, in often out of context and misleading ways, allows you to claim as fact she is liberal ? People who have demeaned her intellect who do not know her, you accept their opinions, I find that disingenuous, to say the least. I see their bias as tainting their presentation, and thus take it with a grain of salt. Those supporting her who don't know her, I also take with a grain of salt. The opinion of those who do know her I will take that under consideration, but I withhold my final judgement until I see for myself reason to support or oppose her nomination.
I do not expect the hearings to allow me to glean how she will rule on specific cases, if that were to happen, it would be reason to oppose her, even if I favored the position she espoused. What I do expect to be able to ascertain in the hearings is my own opinion of her intellect, her ability to present argument and how she reacts under pressure. Does she break or does she hold her ground ? Does she hold strong or does she try to obfuscate or ameliorate her responses for acceptance ? I also expect some solid conservative statements about the Constitution and its interpretation, judicial activism, citing international law, among others topics. If she tries to straddle the fence, she is toast. As I have said, she needs to offer conservatives some red meat to sink their teeth in to. Bush's nominating her is not good enough. Trust, but verify. Wise words, as long as one verifies for themselves and doesn't let others think for them, which happens too frequently in this debate on both sides.
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