Dionne begins by routinely chastising NARAL for guilt by association in falsely linking Roberts with abortion clinic bombers. Then, preposterously, Dionne excuses NARAL:
Let’s give NARAL all the benefits of the doubt here. The group has every right to disagree with the stand that Roberts and the first Bush administration took on this question. A lot of other people disagreed, including Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in her dissent. Roberts’s views on women’s rights, which entered into his interpretation of the law in this case, matter. And whether anyone likes it or not, where Roberts stands on Roe v. Wade is a central concern to people on both sides of this battle.
This amazing paragraph of spin turns NARAL’s calumny into a free speech issue, with Dionne genuflecting before the altar of St. Sandra before reducing the issue to abortion rights. Dionne’s main problem with the anti-Roberts left is not that they’re too extreme. To the contrary:
I’m among those who have criticized liberals for a reluctance to stand up and fight the Bush administration and the right wing. NARAL’s defenders could say that the organization is simply being as tough on the right as the right is on the left.
Here’s the deal, says E.J.: "The over-the-top suggestion that Roberts is someone who would ‘excuse violence against other Americans’ is a distraction from the core issues surrounding his nomination." Question: If conservative interest groups had launched a similar scorched-earth media campaign against Ruth Bader Ginsberg during her confirmation hearings, what do you want to bet that Dionne would have dismissed the furor as a mere "distraction"?
Dionne closes with a stunning instance of moral equivalence featuring the kind of blame-the-victim thinking that has become the hard left’s stock in trade since 9/11. In the name of "civility" (increasingly the last refuge of a liberal scoundrel), Dionne says the first move toward detente is up to the White House:
So let’s embrace a Civility Compact: Roberts and the administration will agree to be more open about the issues that matter, so that phony issues and distortions will be left by the wayside, where they belong. Any takers?
Dionne’s clear implication: Future barbarous assaults against Roberts can be expected — and covertly blessed by so-called mainstream liberals — if Bush doesn’t accede to their farcial demands about documents.
Nice try, E.J. I’ve got a better idea. Schumer, Kennedy, Boxer, Leahy et al can do what they have been planning to do from the start: vote against any Bush nominee to America’s court of last resort. Let’s drop the pretense that any of this is about anything else.