pageok
pageok
pageok
Putting the Size Six Shoe on the Other Foot:

I've seen a lot of silly theories put forth by liberal bloggers and commentators about why the "conservative elite" opposes the Miers nomination. So let's put the shoe on the other foot.

How would the "liberal elite" have reacted if, instead of nominating Ginsburg or Breyer, Clinton, after promising to nominate Justices in the mode of Thurgood Marshall and William Brennan, had nominated a managing partner in the (Little Rock-based) Rose Law firm who had donated to George Bush's 1980 presidential campaign (as Miers donated to Al Gore's 1988 campaign); was Clinton's personal lawyer; was a big muckety-much in the pro-free market Chamber of Commerce (analogous to Miers and the ABA); had publicly opposed affirmative action (as Miers has publicly supported it); had denounced the ACLU(as Miers has more or less denounced the Federalist Society); whose supporters could come up with no better rationale for her appointment than that she was a female Unitarian who had privately expressed the view that abortion should be legal; and who otherwise had analogous credentials and background to Ms. Miers, except with the opposite ideological tinge?

My hypothesis is that such a nominee would have run into at least as much opposition from liberals as Miers has faced from conservatives, and that even fewer liberals would have bought Clinton's "trust me" line than conservatives have bought this line from Bush.

Guestaguest:
I agree. But isn't that to the credit of liberals, that they are less willing to go along with bad appointments and less willing to put blind faith in their partisan leadership? The conversative backlash against Miers has been great -- it is the sign of the maturity of an intellectual movement, as opposed to a political one, that intellectual leaders do not feel compelled to act as apologists for those in power.

To tie together two threads, I think one of the problems that the academic professorate has had with admitting conservatives into its cushy embrace has been their politicization. The ivory tower types generally considers itself above partisan politics. My hope is that, as the conservative intellectual movement removes itself from the mast of the republican party, it will achieve greater and greater acceptance in the academy.
10.14.2005 1:24pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
Now this is just silly. Do you honesly think ANY Unitarian could be confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice? Criminy, they're practically atheists! (Shudder)
10.14.2005 1:26pm
DBernstein (mail):
According to http://www.adherents.com/adh_sc.html, there have been nine Unitarian Justices, but the last one was William Howard Taft.
10.14.2005 1:29pm
anonymous coward:
What sort of "silly theories" from "liberal bloggers" are we talking about? I don't doubt liberal bloggers are pushing silly theories, but they apparently aren't the liberal bloggers I read.

Anyway, the relationship between liberals and Clinton (pre-impeachment, anyway) was far more contentious than the relationship between conservatives and Bush. Though that could be changing as well. Any silly theories likely spring from a mistaken belief that most all Republicans are, well, like Hugh Hewitt.
10.14.2005 1:30pm
A.S.:
You have a much higher regard for liberals than I do, David. Have you ever heard any of the "liberal elite" call ANY of Clinton's appointments a "Clinton crony"? That phrase is reserved for use by right-wingnuts. Nobody on the left condemned Clinton for appointing Webb Hubbell, for example. Hey, I'd love for the left to prove me wrong and find ONE liberal elite call someone a Clinton crony. I think you would have to look long and hard to find it.
10.14.2005 1:31pm
Hugh59 (mail) (www):
The conservatives I know are upset because they feel that there are many BETTER qualified candidates for this vacancy. They have been aching for years to get good people on the court who could resist the temptation to play God.

I don't think the opposition is based on elitism. I also think that there is an over emphasis on nominees with appellate judicial experience. I think that a trial judge or litigator, or even an attorney in a goverment agency, should be considered.

Such a candidate should have an extensive list of published articles that demonstrate the thoughtfulness and intellectual brilliance necessary to challenge (or even oppose) the never ending evolution of the Court towards the increased exercise of power.
10.14.2005 1:33pm
bittern:
Cites please?

Conservatives have been putting up with an endless sequence of poor governance and government growth, all for the imagined promised land of a conservative ideologue at the Supremes. You got sold a bill of goods. You thought you had dibs. Power. You've swallowed a lot to get to this point. Of course you're PO'd now. But I'm not sure your shoe switching proposal adds much light. There's a lot of specific history involved.
10.14.2005 1:34pm
anonymous coward:
"Hey, I'd love for the left to prove me wrong and find ONE liberal elite call someone a Clinton crony. I think you would have to look long and hard to find it."

What a strange claim; of course it is false. The #3 google result for "clinton crony webster hubbell" (no quotes) is Greg Palast writing, "he called on a Clinton crony at the top of the department's Export-Import Bank." This from an article that says Republicans will "suck the blood of the working class." Your lucky day I guess.
10.14.2005 1:42pm
Jacob:
I realize that David wasn't going so far as to say the Federalist Society is the conservative equivlent of the ACLU (or vice versa), but the fact that they even make up a corresponding pair of feet on the same hypothetical really made me laugh. Definitely a comparison where everyone loses.

I also call shenanigans on the Unitarian supposition. Does the Unitarian "church" expressly promote pro-choice politics or merely not promote pro-life politics? Isn't the biggest aspect of the current nominee's professed faith the fact that it means Bush and company are "pretty sure" she's pro-life (and are therefore at the very least hoping that she's anti-Roe). Would anyone be as sure that a Unitarian (or atheist for that matter) nominee be as equally pro-choice and pro-Roe?
10.14.2005 1:59pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
According to http://www.adherents.com/adh_sc.html, there have been nine Unitarian Justices, but the last one was William Howard Taft.


Well I was firmly joking about it (I know there have been atheists on the Court), but honestly, it seems highly unlikely the current administration would even nominate a Unitarian. We've regressed, haven't we?
10.14.2005 2:04pm
bittern:
Jacob, I'm not convinced that Miers is (wink, wink) reliably quote pro-life or anti-Roe. Just because W, her boy-toy, and her minister THINK that she should be? Therefore, for me the bar is low on guessing that a Unitarian or atheist would be as (unreliably) pro-choice and pro-Roe. Not based on logic, just seat-of-the-pants probabilities.

But I'm really more of a lapsed Unitarian myself and I'm moderately quote pro-choice but also anti-Roe.
10.14.2005 2:16pm
Gordon (mail):
Touche.
10.14.2005 2:32pm
Nash (mail):
My hypothesis is that such a nominee would have run into at least as much opposition from liberals as Miers has faced from conservatives, and that even fewer liberals would have bought Clinton's "trust me" line than conservatives have bought this line from Bush.

David, you are not upset because there are people on the right arguing over Ms. Miers' qualification to be a justice on the Supreme Court, but because thre are people on the left advancing silly theories as to why this is happening?

And to counter this, you create a hypothesis that under similar circumstances, the liberals would undoubtedly have been bigger hypocrites than the right already is showing itself to be.

There is, of course, an easy way to test this hypothesis. [tongue firmly planted in cheek] Amend the Constitution, bring him back for a third term and find out.

It just makes me wonder, David, what exactly do you think provides any rhetorical gravitas for charges of hypocrisy based on your invention of a history that never occurred?

If the last few years have taught us anything, it is that calling someone a "hypocrite" doesn't carry the same sharp sting it once did. In light of that trend, calling someone a "theoretical" hypocrite is beyond amusing.

I mean, I know it makes *you* feel better, but outside of that, is that a debate winner? Liberals should be shamed into standing down in silence on the basis of *your* intuition? Okay, got it.
10.14.2005 2:50pm
A.S.:
OK, I'll take your word, anonymous coward, that Greg Palast is one of the "liberal elite". I've never heard of him.

PS - Jacob, I'm a Unitarian, and you can be almost certain that a Unitarian is pro-choice. The Unitarian church is explicitly pro-choice, and has been since 1963:

"Therefore be it resolved that the 1987 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association reaffirms its historic position, supporting the right to choose contraception and abortion as legitimate aspects of the right to privacy; and Be it further resolved that individual Unitarian Universalists: educate themselves, their congregation, and the public about the new moral understandings emergent in the works of feminist theologians and social ethicists; and
oppose any move to deny or restrict the distribution of government funds as a means of restricting access to full contraceptive and abortion counseling and/or services, at home or abroad; and Unitarian Universalists actively oppose all legislation, regulations and administrative action, at any level of government intended to undermine or circumvent the Roe v. Wade decision; and communicate their opposition to such attempts to their legislative representatives and to the electorate; expose and oppose bogus clinics and other tactics that infringe on the free exercise of the right to choose; and promote legislation funding safe abortions for low-income women..."
10.14.2005 3:04pm
RB:
David,

You're a former prof of mine, and I think you're great, but on this post I confess I have no idea where you're coming from as far as liberal blogger theories on why conservatives don't like HM. Most of what I've heard from the libs are the same things conservatives are saying, and it's folks like the RNC Chair and Mrs. Bush that are calling conservatives elitist and sexist.

I should add the caveat that I generally dislike broad characterizations on the views of "liberals" and "conservatives" based on random silly comments from one member of those groups, so maybe that's why this post strikes me as off-base.
10.14.2005 3:12pm
Richard Bellamy (mail):
I think the "left" was less likely to trust Clinton to begin with. They would certainly have rejected the idea (as they did with, say, NAFTA, or welfare reform). I'd say the left protested gobs of things Clinton did.

The difference, apparently, is that the Right has, so far, NEVER really protested what Bush did. Cut taxes without cutting spending? Sure. Medicare drug benefit? Sure. War in Iraq with no exit strategy? No problem. Protestation never really extended beyond the Pat Buchanan wing of the party (and perhaps not beyond Pat himself.)

Now, suddenly, there's the Right protesting Harriet Miers, FEMA cronyism, and government torture policy -- all in the same month!

You know what therapists say about stress and anger, and how you shouldn't let it all build up inside because you're more likely to explode later on? It would have been healthier to have small protests of each objectionable practice by whomever was against it.

I think the lefties are looking to see what happens when five years of unexpressed frustration all explodes at once.
10.14.2005 3:14pm
dbernstein (mail):
Bellamy: You're right. I've been very critical of the Bush Administration during my blogging career, and I even predicted in 11/04 that he would nominate a "moderate Hispanic" to the USSC; I certainly don't trust him, and didn't have high expectations.
10.14.2005 3:16pm
Brian24 (mail):
A.S.: One difference here is that the "liberal elite" never accepted Clinton as one of their own. He ran as the centrist, DLC candidate (recall Sister Souljah), and they always regarded him with suspicion or outright hostility, at least until the impeachment proceedings.

I don't recall the word "crony" coming up under Clinton either, but then there was never a parallel incident where the left wing felt betrayal, because they never expected much from him in the first place.
10.14.2005 3:19pm
tylerh (mail):
A.S.

First, the Cronyism charge was hurled at Bill Clinton. Do you recall such names as "Ron Brown" and "Vernon Jordon?" However, the perception is that Clinton was engaged in far less cronyism than the current administration.

Second, you claim to be a Unitarian, but you've violated one of the founding ideas UU: Non-Credalsim. A major point point of agreement within the UU movent is that a Church should NOT not dictate matters of faith to the individual. The Church may lead, discuss, and exhort, but the individual must decide for herself/himself. That is why my UU minister says "will you please stand as you are willing or able" on Sunday mornings: he wants me to stand, but acknowledges he has no right to compel me to stand.

So saying someone is Pro-Choice because they are a UU may be statistically accurate, but is intellectually fatuous.
10.14.2005 3:33pm
A.S.:
tylerh:

As I said above, the charges of "Clinton Crony" against people like Jordan and Brown came almost exclusively from the right. But the issue, as David B put it, is whether liberal elites would themselves decry a Clinton nominee in the manner that conservatives have decried Miers. So to say that Brown and Jordan were called Clinton Cronies is not sufficient - can you find examples of liberal elites calling them Clinton Cronies?

Second, I didn't mean to imply that the Unitarian church REQUIRES that its members be pro-choice. I certainly didn't say that. In my experience, most of them are. And, as I posted, the church itself is pro-choice.

Heck, even if the church DID require its members to be pro-choice, I don't know that it really means anything. Doesn't the Catholic Church require its members to be pro-life? Does that mean all Catholics are pro-life? I don't think so.
10.14.2005 3:57pm
anonymous coward:
"the perception is that Clinton was engaged in far less cronyism than the current administration...."

If there is that perception it's probably incorrect. Anyone remember the "Friends of Bill"? Of course the FOBs were generally pretty sharp compared to Michael Brown.

Many conservatives see themselves as part of a "movement" that is reflected (if imperfectly) in GOP politics, and that's a source of the relative unity that's breaking down over Miers (or is it?). Liberals haven't felt that way about a party or a President since maybe FDR.
10.14.2005 4:01pm
Nash (mail):

So to say that Brown and Jordan were called Clinton Cronies is not sufficient - can you find examples of liberal elites calling them Clinton Cronies?


Yes, tylerh, do get back to defending liberals against something that never happened. How dare liberals not do something that they shouldn't have done! I never!
10.14.2005 4:05pm
Adam (mail) (www):
people like Jordan and Brown came almost exclusively from the right. But the issue, as David B put it, is whether liberal elites would themselves decry a Clinton nominee in the manner that conservatives have decried Miers.

Well, it's not really the same thing, but I seem to recall a lot of liberal outrage over the Marc Rich and Mel Reynolds pardons.

Clinton didn't have nearly as chummy a Cabinet as Bush does -- Janet Reno, anyone?
10.14.2005 4:10pm
Steven:
We'd be pissed, just like conservatives are now. I don't recall a lot of liberals jumping up and down when Justice Breyer was nominated.
10.14.2005 4:12pm
james23 (mail):
Interesting hypothetical, and I think you are right, the left wouldn't have let it happen.

But I am reasonably certain that Clinton would NEVER have run the risk of sending his personal attorney to Congress to answer questions under oath for a week or two—at least, not unless he absolutely had no other choice. Bruce Lindsay taking the witness stand; sounds like Bill Clinton's worst nightmare. I don't know how close Miers has been to Bush, but I have to assume she will be a very attempting target for Senate Dems. There will no doubt be some interesting fights over privilege.
10.14.2005 5:23pm
Unnamed Co-Conspirator and Impersonator:

You're a former prof of mine, and I think you're great>

Gee thanks, RB, but you should have quit right there. You could've been my pick for SCOTUS.

David

(apology to Prof. Bernstein, but I couldn't just let this one go -- Unnamed Co-Conspirator)
10.14.2005 6:01pm
Justin (mail):
I'm on board with this being a specious attack on unnamed liberal bloggers when the argument should be against conservative defenders of the Miers choice, and that most of the comparisons are silly (ACLU to FedSoc? Try ACS....and to argue that Miers "denounced" them is silly anyway)....Unitarian (which almost by definition has no political positions, which is part of its appeal to liberals) to a particular church in Texas that has strong political positions on major issues?

"My hypothesis is that such a nominee would have run into at least as much opposition from liberals as Miers has faced from conservatives, and that even fewer liberals would have bought Clinton's "trust me" line than conservatives have bought this line from Bush. "

I've yet to see a single liberal, btw, defend Miers's pick as sufficiently conservative and qualified (as these are the two arguments you seem to be melding here). Which once again shows how the people you are attacking are obviously not the people you should be attacking.
10.14.2005 6:16pm
dbernstein (mail):
Justin,
(1) the ACS didn't exist when Clinton was nominating Breyer and Ginsburg, which is why I couldn't use a more direct analogy.
(2) I don't see how I "attacked" anyone. I just pointed out that there is no reason to come up with complex theories of conservatives' motivation when, if those coming up with these theories would simply look at it from the conservatives' perspective, the motivation is obvious. And "putting the shoe on the other foot," at least mentally, is a good way to see this.
10.14.2005 6:26pm
erp (mail):
David, Have you forgotten the FOB's?
10.15.2005 11:11am