Bench Memos

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Memo to Former White House Colleagues


A former White House staffer in this administration offers this strategic analysis:

The Left is actively planning a vicious character and ideological assault on Judge Roberts. It is keeping most of its powder dry through August when the American public and political establishment are both largely on vacation. The Bush Administration and its allies need to understand that the real target of the coming assault is not merely Roberts but the Reagan legacy, which the Left wants to recharacterize and relitigate. This is a fight conservatives should welcome and can win, but one that can be won only by reassembling the Reagan coalition and fighting on Reagan’s high-minded and openly ideological terms. Here’s hoping Ed Gillespie and the White House team will study the playbooks of the 80’s and bring all of the conservative movement’s resources to bear for the battle ahead.

The Administration must set forth and defend a high level, positive vision of the Reagan legal legacy that Roberts helped establish. Nothing typifies Ronald Reagan more than the images of “Morning in America,” the famous 1984 campaign ad. The Administration must demonstrate why the legal work Roberts was engaged in made Morning in America that much brighter. What Reagan did in the area of civil rights, for instance, was not just defeat quotas and busing–he brought us closer to the noble ideal of a colorblind society. He didn’t just block liberal judges from perverting our criminal justice system, he made our communities safer places to live. And he didn’t just promote prayer in schools, he helped remind us all that America is still One Nation Under God. If Roberts is seen as an architect of that glorious legacy he will be confirmed, and by a large margin. If he is instead falsely depicted as a “handmaiden of the Radical Right” bent on undoing years of “progress” for women, minorities and the less fortunate, he will be defeated or win only by the exercise of brute political force.

That is the challenge, and I desperately hope that conservatives are up for it.


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