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Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

He Said It



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It is incontrovertible. Multiple sources confirm that they remember it the same way. And they are not John Fund’s source, as Novak reports.

Maybe McCain forgot. Other people didn’t. They, and many Americans, are genuinely concerned about this issue. As my post on Alito testimony reflects, this was indeed an issue in his confirmation. That Alito was purportedly a “conservative ideologue” was a myth cooked up by liberal antagonists trying to bring down his nomination. Which is why so many people from across the political spectrum who knew then-Judge Alito came forward to refute it.

McCain, long after the fact, repeated what the Ted Kennedy / Moveon / People for the American Way crowd said about Alito. We don’t know what to make of it, because it’s as outlandish as if McCain had said, “As President, I will not send a man to the moon, because the moon wears its green cheese on its sleeve.”

It makes no sense. But he said it. Whether he remembers the specific comment or not, he did say it. So we need to try to understand it, or at least get some pretty detailed commitments from Senator McCain going forward. I hope he, and others, will understand why this is necessary. A President who confuses adherence to judicial restraint with conservative political decisions is very confused about how to select judges. It is one thing to vote for, and even praise, judges some other chief executive has picked (especially when it would be political suicide not to). It is another to discern good Supreme Court appointments. Just ask Ronald Reagan, or George Bush (pere or fils, take your pick).

A friend just reminded me what Bill Buckley once told him about a conversation Buckley had, either with President Eisehhower or his chief of staff, Sherman Adams, looking back on the administration.

“Why weren’t you more conservative when you were in the White House?” Buckley asked. The answer: “Why didn’t you force us to be?”

Pearl of wisdom for the day from WFB.


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