The Corner

Those ‘Wonderful American Stories’

In recent days, we’ve been hearing a lot about a “wonderful American story” — Sonia Sotomayor’s. Can’t oppose that, can you — that wonderful American story? Oh yes you can, if you’re the Democratic party. They certainly did it in the case of Miguel Estrada.

He came from Honduras, and was no Spanish aristocrat, to put it mildly. Arrived in America at 17 speaking barely any English. Graduated with honors from Columbia and Harvard: Law Review, Supreme Court clerkship, blah, blah, blah. Distinguished record in government service — an American success story, a Movie of the Week, a slam dunk.

Bear in mind that he started here — started here — at 17. What he accomplished, in the next years, is amazing.

George W. Bush nominated him for the Court of Appeals — and bam: The Democrats stopped him. They had to, some people think. Because, if he had been permitted to serve on that court, he may well have been nominated for the Supreme Court. And how could you stop that wonderful American story? How could you stop the first Hispanic justice?

Estrada came up in a talk that some of us NR-niks had with Bush in the Oval Office last December. I wrote about that meeting here. Bush said,

“I just talked about Harriet [Miers], but there’s a lot of other good judicial nominees who get nominated, scrutinized, and they just dangle out there. And all this is going to do is cause good people to say, ‘Why do I want to go through this, why do I want to have my family hang out there, why do I want to jeopardize my career, why do I want to put opportunities on hold, if I cannot get a fair hearing and a vote?’ I mean, I think of Miguel Estrada, unbelievably brilliant, and it’s a fabulous American story . . .”

I interjected, “That’s why he had to be stopped.”

Bush said, “Yes. Oh, absolutely. But I look at it from his perspective, not theirs. And his perspective is, I want to serve, I want to be in a position to exercise my intellect, I want to help my adopted country . . . And yet he just got hung out there. It was very discouraging, I’m sure, to him and to others who watched the process.”

The Democrats would not even grant Estrada a vote — up or down. They filibustered. And this was just an appeals court, mind you, not the Supreme Court. Somehow, I have the feeling that Sonia Sotomayor will get a vote. And there will be plenty of talk about a wonderful, or — to use President Bush’s word — fabulous, American story. When that talk comes from Democrats, you may want to remember Miguel Estrada.

I guess what I’m saying is, Look: Vote for Sotomayor if you want to, because you like her views. But cut the crap about American stories. Such stories didn’t matter much when Miguel desired to serve.


The Latest