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Saturday, January 07, 2006

"It must take a man or woman with an especially strong constitution, no pun intended, to be a Republican SCOTUS nominee. I am appalled by the demogoguery, the character assassination, the misrepresentation and distortion, and the intense scouring of one's public and private life that any nominee must now endure. God give strength to any individual who submits to this process. They need it. I'm sure the Founders never envisioned this process becoming an inquisition."
Hear, hear. I first realized the toll that public life exacts when I was working on the campaign staff of U.S. Senator Howard Metzenbaum. He and I once walked into a diner to grab a bite to eat before a campaign appearance, and before we sat down to order Metzenbaum walked through the entire restaurant shaking hands with everyone there. It was clear to me that a good many of the diners were simply embarrassed by the glad-handing and artificial familiarity. I was, too. It wouldn't occur to me to systematically greet a room full of strangers in that way. For one thing, it strikes me as rude. Plus: I'm too much of an introvert. But of course the emailer is describing something that goes beyond different normal zones of privacy for different kinds of normal people. Inquisition is really the right term for the sustained process of assault we now ask and expect our public people to endure. The worst is over for Supreme Court justices after they get confirmed, because the campaign is over. It's the perennial candidates who become grotesque charicatures. Many decent men and women spend untold hours in public life calling strangers and asking for large sums of money, and raising their fingers to the wind so they can stay abreast of the prevailing winds. I happen to know that many of them find the process demeaning, degrading, even repulsive. Many who stay with the process become zombies. On the other hand, look at the expression on the faces of candidates who opt for fellowships at think tanks or media gigs instead of running for reelection. It's called relief. For one thing, they can say what's really on their minds. Like bloggers.
TOM'S TIMING: The deep sigh of relief you hear is Republicans at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. Delay's decision to step down as majority leader is the right one politically, whether or not he eventually gets convicted for the campaign finance charges. His departure reduces his exposure as a Democratic target, making him thereby less of a liability for a GOP already nervous about Abramoff. As for next November: Preliminary reports indicate that Democrats comprise as many as 35 percent of members of Congress being investigated in the lobbying scandal. If that's accurate, I'm betting angry voters will focus less on the GOP than "the culture of entrenched incumbents." Then again, the political waters are way too volatile to be sure at this point — many butterflies yet to fly.
THOSE DASHING DEMS: Barry Casselman likens Democrats to the bear hunter who sets a trap, later steps in it after forgetting where he put it, only to become a bear's brunch. Speaking of which: Senate Democrats plan an all-out assault on Alioto, using their standard race-gender weaponry. These demagogues are more suicide-prone than I realized. The last time they tried that strategy, here's the three-word result they achieved: Justice Clarence Thomas. Two key developments have taken place since that era. One, the left has become more obsessed with racial, ethnic, and gender identity-based politics. Two, the American electorate has gotten increasingly turned off by that entire venue because they realize what a cultural and moral dead end it is. So by all means: on Teddy, on Chuckie, on Boxer, on Durbin — dash away all! (against the rocks of political self-destruction). In the immortal words of Yortuk Festrunk: "That's your funeral!"

Thursday, January 05, 2006

SUPREME SPIN: Schumer's latest on Alito:
"If he is out of the mainstream and will use his tremendously powerful position as Supreme Court judge to impose his views on the American people, then there's a potential for a filibuster, and no one really knows that until the hearings."
Clearly "impose" is the left's term of art for judicial rulings that fail to advance the social-engineering agenda that the left continues to be unable to advance through the ballot box. No less clearly, Alito will be confirmed and will join a Supreme Court majority that gets serious about undoing the radical activism that began with the Warren Court. The new 5-4 majority will proceed slowly and carefully, to be sure, but a process of correcting the imbalances of leftist activist judges will go forward. (Latest sign of weakness behind blustering rhetoric: they plan to delay a vote on Alioto, which one assumes will allow them to go to their wacked-out leftist supporters and say: "Out of conviction, we postponed." Wow. Hardball.) If Justice Stevens should leave the Court during Bush's term, the Dems will likely filibuster Bush's next nominee because the stakes will be enormous. All the more reason why continuing GOP control of the Senate is crucial after 2006 (even though conservatives and libertarians have many good reasons for not feeling much respect for the GOP majority in both houses on issues ranging from bad action on prescription drugs and no action on illegal immigration).
FLEEING ABRAMOFF: In the pantheon of non-virtues, one of the most despicable is the perennial human impulse to abandon a friend when he's down. But that's not what's involved in so many Washingtonians now distancing themselves from Abramoff. After all, the relationships now being abandoned weren't "friendships" — with the possible exception of Tom Delay, who has called Casino Jack one of his dearest. No, what strikes me is the sudden epidemic of highly public impeccability, with the President and Speaker of the House declining to remain in possession of the funds they received from the newly indicted Abramoff. (Look for similar displays of piousness from Democrats, who likewise benefitted from the generosity of this lobbiest's largesse.) I'm reminded of the way children will go to great lengths to put the candy back in the jar when they have a pretty good idea they were seen taking it without permission. No doubt we can expect to hear some Clinton-like distinctions between what seem to be the bribes of Abramoff and "normal" high-dollar campaign contributions. This might be a great weekend to rent the movie Casablanca:
[after observing the gambling tables at Rick's] Customer: Are you sure this place is honest? Carl: Honest? As honest as the day is long! [as he goes to hand Renault a bribe] Jan Brandel: Captain Renault... may I? Captain Renault: Oh no! Not here please! Come to my office tomorrow morning. We'll do everything businesslike. Jan Brandel: We'll be there at six! Captain Renault: I'll be there at ten. Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds? Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here! [a croupier hands Renault a pile of money] Croupier: Your winnings, sir. Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much. [aloud] Captain Renault: Everybody out at once!
(By the way, these musings come from one who believes the Supreme Court got it wrong in ruling that the giving of campaign contributions is not a form of protected free speech.)

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

PBS RECANTS — SORT OF: Last fall, PBS ran an hour of anti-male propaganda disguised as a documentary, portraying fathers as batterers and child molesters who steal children from their mothers. Here's the key fact: numerous studies make clear that the vast majority of child abuse, parental murder of children, child neglect, and child endangerment are committed by mothers, not fathers. Nobody says there aren't abusive divorced dads out there; the problem with the PBS documentary was its claim that only fathers commit child abuse. Following a national firestorm of protest, PBS recently acknowledged the program's flaws. Major kudos to columnist and talk radio host Glenn Sacks for leading a spirited campaign to get PBS to commission a balanced (read: not mired in vicious feminist animus) hour-long documentary to allow "doctors, psychologists, judges, parent advocates and victims of abuse to have their perspectives shared, challenged and debated."
WHY SPY: The invariably wise and cheeky Kathleen Parker drills right to the core of the debate about Bush's counterintelligence measures. Money quote:
Thus, try as I might, I can't muster outrage over what appears to be a reasonable action in the wake of 9/11. As a rule, I'm as averse as anyone to having people "spying" on me. I'm also as devoted to protecting civil liberties as any other American. But the privilege of debating our constitutional rights requires first that we be alive. If federal agents want to listen in on suspected terrorists as they plot their next mass murder, please allow me to turn up the volume.
Turns out most American agree. A survey by Rasmussen Reports of 1,000 adults on Dec. 26-27 found that 64 percent of Americans (including 51 percent of Democrats) polled believe the NSA should be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States. (Will Hillary side with the crazy left on this issue, or will she align with most Americans — and her husband, and Jimmy Carter, who likewise argued for broad presidential counterintelligence latitude?)