Will's Coffee House

John Dryden, Dramatist, Critic, Poet Laureate, and my ancestor, frequented a coffee house called Will's almost daily, where he would hold forth on sundry subjects with great wit and aplomb. Same deal here, only without the wit or aplomb.

Location: Large Midwestern City, Midwestern State, United States

I am a stranger in a sane land...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Don't Know Anything

...about this guy. (You know the guy I'm talking about...The one who's up for the job where he can show up late and drunk and reeking of bong water every day and they still can't fire him, and he gets to decide whether you can read porn, marry a member of the same sex, and have that abortion you've been putting off?) So a lengthy blog post on him at this point would be premature. We've had a whiff or two that give a sense of his conservative bona fides, as a trial lawyer he represented folks who were what the left would call "anti-environmentalist," though his legal argument was based on the law they were claiming as justification, and was concise, witty, and--I hate to say it--correct.

And truth be told, though I'd love a Supreme Court that went about making this country into an image of my own personal utopia, it's rather better for them to be sticklers on matters of legal interpretation. Plus, he can write, which is always a good sign. (Though so can Scalia, so it's not an infallible touchstone.) He did, of course, assist in the composition and filing of a brief on behalf of the odious Ken Starr (then Solicitor General), who wanted family planning clinics to have the consititutional right not to even mention the possibility of abortion as they went about their counselling. In this brief, the words "We continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled" were used, which should send a chill up many spines. But. He was one of many hands who toiled on that document, and we've no way of knowing how much those words reflected his views or were simply the work of a team member who wanted to produce a forceful statement of principle. Regardless, he's also said elsewhere that Roe was a legal principle he didn't think needed changing, which supports the latter interpretation. Either this guy is a stealth arch-conservative who's spend his whole career pretending to me a moderate conservative on the incredible slim chance that he might be called up to the majors, or he's just what he appears to be--a moderate conservative who bases his decisions on an intelligent interpretation of the law rather than on a rigid ideology. He's not Patricia Owen, is what I'm saying.

But now the fun begins. I think the NY Times mentioned, and I believe it, that many conservatives on the Hill still remember the Bork fiasco of the mid-'80s--the Hindenberg of confirmations--and they'll be gunning for any Dems who want to recreate that process, but they won't have to--I think these proceedings will be closer to the Thomas confirmation, without the distraction of the Anita Hill scandal--Thomas, who minus the murder is the O.J. Simpson of justices (got his success, married a white woman, and proceeded to turn his back on the community that supported him with a cold-blooded viciousness that suggests an ugly soul underneath it all)--a confirmation which, in retrospect, reminds one of the strange, subtle progress of African Americans in this country, since, like Simpson, if Thomas had been white, he'd have gone down, hard. Nobody had the balls to call him on his "high-tech lynching" claim, as grotesquely self-serving a statement of historical insensitivity as can be--can you image if Ginsburg had claimed to have been suffering "a high-tech pogrom" during her hearing? Rgeardless--the GOP is in charge, and they'll defend him with enough vigor to get him through.

I think Roberts smells like a swing-vote. Barring any Hill-like skeletons in his closet (and, post-Hill, if you think this guy wasn't vetted with a proctoscope, you're just not thinking this through), he'll be confirmed in a wink. But that might not be bad. Looking back at history, conservative nominees tend to do two things--stay conservative (Scalia, Thomas--we knew what we were getting, and we got it), or become moderates who occasionally skirt liberalism: Souter, Kennedy, O'Connor. Yeah, they all voted with Bush in 2000--yeah, it was partisan, not legal--but they've been on the left side of a lot of votes (you always love those votes because Scalia's vitriolic dissents are always so hilariously scathing.) I am not panicked by this choice. Not yet. But as the title of this post suggests, these are just my first impressions. We will have to wait and see.

Karl Rove must love the fact that nobody's bugging him these days. But I think that will not last. With a Supreme Court justice they don't have to fight tooth and nail, the Dems can focus all their attention on his slug-like butt. (Is it just me, or does he look like a larval form of Jabba the Hutt? Just me? OK, fine.)


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