Sunday, July 03, 2005

Sandra Day O’Connor, Alberto Gonzales and the Hard, Hard Right

Not for the first time, Bionic Octopus has come to the same opinions on a subject as I have and posted them first. On the possible forthcoming nomination of Alberto “this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions” Gonzales to the Supreme Court (and Bush really wants to appoint a Hispanic to the court, but I doubt it’s Speedy’s time quite yet; maybe Rehnquist’s replacement or the one after that), the D’s are beginning to engage in “pre-cave ground preparation,” pointing out how Bush is under such pressure from his right (!) to appoint someone even more paleo-reactionary, so we should just settle for Gonzales. BionOc thinks D’s have fallen prey to shrewder R negotiating tactics, that the R’s are also playing up the supposed extreme right-wing opposition to Gonzales in order to Mau Mau the D’s into letting him slide through without filibustering. Chuck Schumer is even quoted praising Bush for his fortitude in standing up to the “hard, hard right.” BionOc suggests Schumer and the Dithering Dems want to be able to portray this as a victory, but why? Is the charge of being “obstructive” really so hurtful to them when the things they’re obstructing are so horrible? Do they really think that being on the losing side is the same as being a loser? If the D’s had real principles to stand up for, an honorable defeat in defense of those principles would be preferable to spinning a disaster for constitutional rights as some sort of half-assed victory.

That the D’s would fold instantly in the face of a Gonzales nomination is predictable from the fact that they did just that less than six months ago. I’ve been re-reading my posts from that period and getting pissed off all over again. This is me in February:
A while back I said that I wanted the Gonzalez nomination to become an up-or-down vote on torture, because I really am curious how such a vote would go, how badly damaged the moral compass of this countries’ elected representatives had become. I half-way got my wish: the D’s have proclaimed this a vote on torture, but say that they intend to confine themselves to impotent squawking. This is the lead of a WaPo article by Dana Milbank: “Senate Democrats angrily denounced White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales yesterday as an advocate of prisoner torture but said they would not block his confirmation as attorney general.” Tells you everything you need to know about the D’s.
And January:

I wish the D’s would stop praising Gonzales’s “rags-to-riches” story. Patrick Leahy: “The road you traveled... is a tribute to you and your family.” That road was paved over dead bodies in Texas and broken ones in Guantanamo; the toll on that road was too damned high.
And later in Jan.:
In, pathetically, the boldest Democratic move yet on Alberto Gonzales, Ted Kennedy says he is “leaning against” voting to confirm him. But if you consider support for torture to be an absolute disqualification for the job of attorney general, and funnily enough I do, you don’t “lean” because there is nothing left to consider. You do not “lean” on issues of principle.
A NYT Week in Review article delineating the flavors of judicial conservatism (“Constitution in Exile Conservatives” is a new one to me) (and they left out a term found in the main section article, used by a “senior administration official” which would have to mean Card or Rove: “true constructionist,” which I take to be an even more arrogant formulation for “strict constructionist”), a picture is captioned “Sandra Day O’Connor wasn’t everything conservatives had hoped.” Yeah, a man. Seriously, it’s hard to believe how ground-breaking her nomination really did seem to be in 1981. I remember how thrilled even radical Berkeley women were (I was visiting Berkeley when her nomination was announced) that any woman had been named. Now it’s all pretty hum ho, and Bush isn’t even under any particular pressure to name a woman to replace her, in the way that his father had to find a black man to replace Marshall. But consider this: in the last 24 years, only one other woman has been appointed or nominated. Don’t take gender equality for granted, is all I’m saying.

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