Thursday, July 21, 2005

John Roberts

I guess the most encouraging news today is that Canada has legalized same sex marriages. It’s not that it makes any difference here, but it does show that a creeping sense of common sense and social justice is spreading throughout the world. It could still be turned by religious fundamentalists in Canada, as it has been in the United States, but at the moment it gives me hope for a brighter future.

But those hopes are dashed when I look at Judge John Roberts. He proves once again that the Republican machine is a perfectly tuned, well oiled machine that can trump the democrats at every turn. The Karl Rove controversy was heating up in a big way, rallying liberals and progressives around the country and seriously damaging the white house’s credibility. President Bush’s poll numbers were dropping. Then the news cycle changed and front page news is all about this smiling, handsome man with the precocious kid who is about to become a Supreme Court justice.

Look at this guy. Bush would not have made a more perfect choice. He fits the bush mold (conservative white guy, strict constructionist) while being practically unassailable from the left. Sandra Day O’Connor’s comment upon hearing the announcement totally sums him up: “He’s confirmable.” And that’s what’s important. He’s a confirmable conservative. The People for the American Way are out in the desert on this one. They have nothing real to fight him with. Did he oppose abortion before the Supreme Court? Sure he did, but he was “acting as an advocate for his client,” and that shouldn’t be taken as his actual opinion. After all, he did say at his confirmation hearings to the Appellate Court that Roe v. Wade “was the settled law of the land,” so all you girls can trust him to have control over you reproductive organs. Of course, he is now going to be in a position to unsettle it. I loved listening to the talking points on this one. Every conservative commentator went out of their way to point out that John Roberts “is a really nice guy.” This guys personal appeal is a big part of the package he comes with, a definite upside for a president who needs a win on this one. In fact, the similarities between this John and another one, John Edwards, are striking. He’s a good looking lawyer in his fifties with a precocious young child. He has dimples. He has a boyish look even at fifty. He has very neat hair. Doesn’t he look just a little bit like Edwards? Like John Edwards, the good looks, charm, and happy go lucky family guy image are pert of his appeal. The camera really likes John Roberts. Finally, he was confirmed on a voice vote by the senate to his appellate job just a couple years ago. How can they turn around now reject him, especially when none of his written opinions have been controversial? With Fred Thompson leading the way, this guy will sail through.

What this choice has demonstrated is not only that President Bush can still get what he wants some time, but that this White House is/are masters of the media. They have chosen the perfect candidate for Supreme Court in a post modern, media driven society: one who’s good looking, personable, great on the mike, has no solid record to hang him with, and who nonetheless is a conservative white guy who will serve the interests of big business and religious fanatics in the Republican party. These guys are good. And Roe v. Wade, Miranda, affirmative action, the establishment clause, civil rights in general, certainly gay marriage, and just about every other thing that could make this a just and civilized nation are going out with yesterday’s bathwater. By October the conservatives will have so securely locked up the Supreme Court that it might as well hang a sign on its doors saying “Neo-cons only need apply.”

Which is fine, because that is what the constitution says is supposed to happen. The president gets to appoint these guys, not me and not congress. We elected a staunch right-wing conservative with clear ties to big oil and Christian fanaticism who said Clarence Thomas is his ideal justice, and we got a better looking, white Clarence Thomas without as much baggage as his first Supreme Court nominee. And all those moderates out there who support Roe v. Wade and civil rights who voted for Bush anyway will just have to suffer. You reap what you sew.

What a coup!


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