Politics & Policy

“My Chief,” &C.

Start out with some judge talk? I hope Roberts is a big success–and we could have done worse, pick-wise–but I’m still sorry that Clarence Thomas wasn’t elevated to chief. I’d been advocating that for years. It would have been thrilling, on so many levels. Yes, the confirmation hearings would have been an ordeal for him–another ordeal. But he would have sucked it up: for the country and, I guess, for history. Besides, what are they going to do? Damage him more?

Forgive me if I’ll always think of Clarence Thomas as “my chief.”

‐Last week, Richard Cohen had a column arguing that Roberts could be inadequate, because his life has been “too perfect.” He’s never known failure, blah, blah, blah. Should have gotten his hands dirty, lived with the Harlan County miners, sung with Arlo Guthrie, I presume–all that BS.

Several points: Richard Cohen has no idea–not the foggiest–what John Roberts has had to deal with. Neither do I. People have struggles that don’t necessarily show on the surface, or turn up in a bio. Also, if they’re stoic, they don’t bitch about it, as so many of those whom the Left admires do.

Second, Cohen writes, “[Roberts] will lead one branch of the government.” See? They’re giving him the confirmation already. “I wish he knew more about all of the people.”

I thump the table again: Cohen has no idea what Roberts knows about. It just may be–may be–that Roberts knows more about people–a whole mess o’ people, all that crooked timber–than Richard Cohen does. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

And I’ll tell you a dirty little secret about hardship: It doesn’t necessarily make you more “liberal” and “compassionate,” in the way that Cohen means. It may have the opposite effect: It may make you less tolerant of whining and excuses. It may make you less receptive to a hard-luck pitch. Those who have had it easy can be guilted into false pity. They may even harbor “the soft bigotry of low expectations”!

If Richard Cohen wants the Mommy State, he’d better beware of people who’ve had it rough. I don’t think he’d have many allies among them. Among trust-funders with Ivy League degrees–sure.

Furthermore, what if Roberts had liberal views? What if he thought like Brennan or Blackmun? Would Cohen worry about his lack of “realness” then? Or would liberal views be proof of no problem, no deficiency?

I’ll say this about Cohen’s column: He has the good grace to say, “Sure, Clarence Thomas was grossly deprived, but I still can’t stand him.” (I paraphrase.) And sadly, Cohen gets in his Bush-is-an-idiot jabs. He really ought to know better: Only the most stupid people allege that Bush is stupid. A Washington Post columnist shouldn’t be among them–and this is quite aside from political orientation.

‐Speaking of Washington Post columnists, how about the dean, David Broder? (“Dean of the Washington press corps.”) In his own Supreme Court column, he wrote,

Bush’s political advisers will be conscious not only of the dangers of an ideological battle over [tough] issues but also of the advantages of filling the O’Connor vacancy with a woman or a Hispanic judge.

Given the emphasis that Karl Rove and Bush himself have placed on courting Latino voters, it would be surprising if the president rebuffed that constituency by passing up for a second time the possibility of naming the first-ever Hispanic justice.

Many Democrats privately are convinced that Bush will choose not to miss that opportunity. They will breathe a sigh of relief if he so chooses, and happily go to war if he makes an ideological choice.

I see: A Latino or an “ideological choice.” Hmm. First, are all conservatives “ideological choices”? (I guess they are if that’s the opposite of “affirmative-action choices.”) Second, what if Bush proffered a Miguel Estrada? After all, it is possible to be both philosophically sound and Latino.

But I’m not sure Washington pundits–even deans–grasp that. Race, or ethnicity, is destiny, in that mindset. That’s why someone like Clarence Thomas sends them into a tizzy: It upsets the natural order of things.

And how about that statement, “it would surprising if the president rebuffed that constituency”? So, if Bush picks anyone other than a Latino, he’s “rebuffing” that constituency? I voted for Bush. If he picks someone other than whom I want–Mike Luttig–is he rebuffing me? No–he’s president. I doubt that Bush’s Latino supporters voted for him in the expectation that he’d be a racial/ethnic bean counter. Even a refried-bean counter.

I’m sure that violates some campus speech code somewhere. Good thing I’m not on one.

‐A final judicial note: Senator Schumer says, “Because Roberts is in the mold of Rehnquist, what most Americans would say is, for the associate-justice pick, [Bush should choose] someone a little more moderate–in the mold of O’Connor.”

Three points: 1) Most Americans would say that, would they? How would Schumer know? Shouldn’t he just speak for himself–or, at most, New York? 2) More moderate than Roberts? What does Schumer think this man is, the second coming of James Madison (the ultimate “judicial extremist” and originalist)? 3) I trust that Schumer, for consistency’s sake, would insist on a right-wing justice, upon Antonin Scalia’s retirement.

‐What sad words: “Antonin Scalia’s retirement.” I feel like washing my (typing) fingers out with soap.

‐Andrea Mitchell, the NBC News veteran, called Pat Robertson a “colleague” of the administration. This was when she was criticizing him for the Hugo Chávez business, and obviously she wanted to link Robertson to the hated Bush. A “colleague” of the administration.

Couple of questions: Has anyone, in the history of the world, ever been called a “colleague” of an administration? I mean, until now? And second: How low will establishment journalists go to get Bush?

‐Jeff Jacoby, the excellent Boston Globe columnist, sent me a note “apropos race and rioting.” Was I familiar with a certain quote about L.A., from May 1992? I was not. Here it is:

“Oh, to be sure, it was heartbreaking to see some little children going into the stores in Los Angeles and stealing from their neighbors. But they live in a country where the top 1 percent of Americans have more wealth than the bottom 90 percent.”

That was Bill Clinton, running for president. The location: San Francisco’s Glide Memorial Church. Says Jeff, “The governor wasn’t speaking off the cuff in the heat of the moment. He was delivering prepared remarks a week after the rioting had pretty much ended.”

Some DLC Democrat for you. And how do the poor feel about such remarks? “You are thieves–you are criminals, you break Commandments–because you are poor. And not even poor! Because the top 1 percent have more wealth than the bottom 90 percent.”

So disgusting. If I had known this earlier, I’d have been mad for 13 years!

‐Consider an AP report, about Gaza: “After rushing into the settlements, Palestinians set fire to empty synagogues in the Morag, Kfar Darom, and Netzarim settlements, as well as a Jewish seminary in Neve Dekalim. In Netzarim, two young Palestinians waving flags stomped on the smoldering debris outside the synagogue, and others took turns hitting the building with a large hammer.”

So, any moment, Jews will start demonstrating, rioting, and killing. And the world will excuse them–right?–given what the Palestinians did to the synagogues and seminary. Just like the world understood when Christians demonstrated, rioted, and killed, after the PLO desecrated the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

Oh, no, wait. Sorry.

But wait’ll someone tries to flush a Bible down a toilet!

‐Let me give a little lesson in why I love Mark Calcavecchia, the PGA Tour veteran. He just won the Canadian Open, having started brilliantly, and hung on during the final two rounds. Taste a news story:

“Calcavecchia [avoided] a playoff by sticking a 6-iron shot at No. 18 within 6 feet of the pin. He then lagged the putt to within tap-in range. ‘Thank God we ran out of holes,’ said Calcavecchia. ‘I saved my best drive and my best iron for the last hole and knew I could two-putt from 6 feet. How embarrassing to lag from 6 feet.’”

I just adore that guy. “No swing–all guts and a putter,” a famous teacher once said. I don’t know about that–but I can vouch for the guts and the putter.

‐Whenever my friends and I get together, we spend the bulk of the time marveling at the achievements of Tiger Woods. They are, in a word–superhuman. Impossible.

Anyway, there’s an excellent accounting of these achievements at TigerWoods.com, on the bio page.

I was quite astonished to read this:

In winning the British Open, Woods became the youngest to complete the career Grand Slam of professional major championships and only the fifth ever to do so, following Hogan, Gene Sarazen, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus. Tiger also was the youngest Masters champion ever, at the age of 21 years, three months and 14 days, and was the first major championship winner of African or Asian heritage.

What I was astonished at was that last bit–the racial bit. What does that have to do with anything–particularly amid that long, long, miraculous list of (genuine) achievements? Does Tiger know about this sentence? I rather doubt it–because I think he’d hate it. He despises racialism, particularly as applied to him.

I wrote about Tiger here and here, and the second piece is especially relevant to the point I’ve just made.

Tiger, I appeal to you–strike that line. It is very, very un-you. You know that the accident of race doesn’t belong in a chronicle of your totally unaccidental–utterly earned–golfing achievements.


‐Marvelous, one-sentence letter related to the new global-warming craze:

“Back in the early Sixties, the common explanation for violent weather was H-bomb testing.”

Yes, and I grew up–not so long ago–in the age of “nuclear winter.” Remember that one?

‐A little language:

Hi, Jay:

Thought you’d like this: I recently saw a program about Ella Fitzgerald, and a woman who saw her debut at the Cotton Club described the scene before she sang, when she walked up to the stage. People jeering, laughing. And then Ella starts to sing, and afterward it was so quiet, “you could hear a rat piss on cotton.”

Nice, huh?


‐On our continuing theme of naming children “Reagan.” (You may wish to see yesterday’s Impromptus.)

Hi, Jay:

My youngest daughter is named Reagan . . . yeah, partly for Ronnie and partly because we (wife and I) just plain like it.

Anyway, the day after she was born, my wife, who’d been through a tough delivery, was resting in her hospital bed when the on-call OB-GYN came in (not her regular doctor). This snippy [so-and-so], without even greeting or speaking to my wife, picked up her chart, read for a moment, and then looked at her with contempt and disgust, saying, “I can’t believe you named your daughter after the worst president we ever had! How could you do that to your new baby? I’ll never understand people like you!”

Jay, there are few things that get me truly angry. One, mess with my wife. Two, mess with my kids. Three, start spouting off a bunch of liberal crap about conservatives in general and Reagan in particular. Needless to say, this doctor hit the trifecta and is very lucky I wasn’t there when she insulted us like that.

Oh, I wish he had been!

See you, guys.


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