The Fray examines the off-off-election tea leaves.

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Nov. 9 2005 11:46 AM

Bellwether ... or Partly Cloudy?

The Fray examines the off-off-election tea leaves.

Fraywatch will update later today once readers have had a chance to digest the relative importance of electoral contests in Virginia, New Jersey, and California. In the meantime ...

Overview: The_Bell offers his roundup here and concludes that results aren't as promising for Democrats as the punditocracy believes:

In Virginia, many had seen the passage of the Governorship into Democrat Mark Warner's hands as a "fluke." The victory of Tim Kaine, his Lieutenant Governor, over Jerry Kilgore repudiated that and bolstered Warner's 2008 Presidential ambitions. What is more, the Virginia race represents another black eye for President Bush, who made a special point of stopping in Richmond Monday night on the way back from his Latin American trip to campaign for Kilgore at an election-eve rally.

The bottom line, however, is that both wins reflect voters maintaining the status quo. By and large, that was the case around the country despite some unusual results here and there.

Both California and Ohio soundly rejected a series of ballot initiatives sponsored by those states' respective minority Parties in order to loosen their opponents grip on the Statehouse.

…Some of the wins were progressive and others reactionary. Yet the dominant theme was that even when individual incumbents did not triumph, the existing power structure tended to prevail. That is not such good news for Democrats heading into 2006 who hope to recover Congressional seats or even gain control of a chamber.

The exception? The_Bell's stomping ground of Cincinnati.

Texas: One element of absurdity in the language with which Texas voters "defined" marriage yesterday is examined by Thrasymachus here:

By forbidding their state and local authorities from recognizing any legal state "identical to marriage," Texans might very well just have forbidden Texas from recognizing marriage!

If the courts apply a plain language interpretation to the new Amendment, they'll be forced to conclude that marriage is, by definition, a relationship "identical to marriage," and is therefore now among the domestic arrangements that the great State of Texas is now barred from ever extending legal recognition to.

So congratulations, noble Texans! To briefly borrow the words of the immortal Gandhi, your sons and daughters are now bastards, and your sisters and wives are now whores!

NOW will you consider funding public education?

Texas' syntactic issues aside, Fraywatch poses this question to those who voted in the affirmative—precisely what sort of arrangement do you propose for two same-sex partners who wish to spend their lives together? We have jokers like this absolutely horrified at the prevalence of risky sex among a small segment of the gay population. Yet when pushed to define what sort of social arrangement for same-sex partners is best for Texas (or anywhere else, for that matter), there's a dastardly silence from these same cretins. Well, which is it? You can't render gays and lesbians outside the protections of the law and then turn around and lambaste them for … well … not playing by the rules. We realize that your overwhelming preference is that we cease to exist. But in case you haven't taken a gander down Cedar Springs Road lately, that's a pipe dream.

A civil society works only if you include everyone within the boundaries of the law. So, to the opponents of gay marriage or "recognizing a legal status similar to marriage" for gays, Fraywatch asks again—what's your proposal?

Paris: Two well-composed posts on the disaster circumscribing Paris, one from The_Bell here, another from Ele_ here:

Isolation from the mainstream society breeds more Islam and Islam breeds more isolation. The mullahs of course figured it out a long time ago. They are not interested in seeking assimilation and economic opportunities, for their power would start dissipating. Accordingly, their basic position toward the French authorities is very simple: Leave us alone. We want you no more than you want us. We shall dress our women in our own tradition, bring up our youth in our own schools, and disperse justice in our communities in our own way.

The Maghrebian flavor of Islam is quite mainstream and a far cry from the Islamic fundamentalism. The mullahs have no desire to wage jihad on either the French authorities or the French population, for they have nothing to gain and a lot to lose. Yet, in their quest to wrestle governance of Islamic communities away from the French authorities they do not waver. The current riots are no more than another message to the government. It is also no less.

Ele concludes that "an appearance of de-facto independent Islamic quasi-states in France as well as in many other countries of Western Europe, where the situation is about the same, is just a matter of time."

Darfur: Fraygrants long opposed to the war in Iraq seem conflicted to lap at the chalice of Hitchens on the matter of Darfur, but not_abel recommends that the best way to read this week's Fighting Words column is to "pretend Hitchens didn't write" it:

It's not that Iraq isn't part of this picture. It is a large part of the context for any answer. But both the questions and the potential answers are much more important than whether Hitchens is or isn't a hypocrite. Whether you agree with his answer or not, he gets the question right.

…Hitchens precisely points out the dilemma facing interventionists. Had intervention prevented the genocide there, we would never have known the cost of not intervening. Without that side of the ledger known, many would have been outraged at the cost of intervention, had there been one, both in dollars, and in the inevitable loss of innocent lives that must accompany…

Now Darfur is happening and happening at a time when both the Rwandan genocide and the Iraq debacle are fresh in our minds. Please, those who both believe that we should have intervened in Rwanda and Darfur and say that we should have stayed out of Iraq, please suggest the criteria to be applied that do justify intervention.

What made Hussein's oppression of Kurds and Shiites in Iraq something to be tolerated as long as he was "inside his box", if the genocides in Africa were intolerable?

Would any intervention in either Rwanda or Darfur have made things any better?

If intervention can ever be justified, what combination of moral bounds of tolerance and pragmatic probability of effectiveness can be applied to tell us when and where to intervene?

Should the presence or absence of a strategic interest be a factor at all?

But Shrieking_Violet won't detach the message from the messenger. She begins her post by plucking this from a 2002 Hitchens column:

"Facile equivalences are to be avoided." -- Christopher Hitchens, April 2002

Then she proceeds to call out Hitchens for charting Darfur as the moral equivalent of Iraq:

It's quite easy for the Fifth Infantry Division of Gin-Soaked Oxford Intellectuals to cast shame and blame on the world leaders who have failed to intervene in the Sudan, and much of the blame is richly deserved, indeed. It's quite a bit more difficult to identify the decisions the United States would have to have made in the previous 4 to 12 years to put themselves in a position to intervene effectively in Darfur, and still have a free hand to defend our own shores and combat international terrorism.

But Hitchens can't help himself. His current agenda is built around condemning Brent Scowcroft's brand of foreign policy "realism" and defending his own decision to back the invasion of Iraq. So, just as surely as the leaves change color in Washington at the start of November, Hitchens grasps and gropes for the facile equivalence between Darfur and Iraq...

An equivalence between a regime that is actively slaughtering its own citizens without anyone raising a hand against them, and a regime that slaughtered its on citizens a decade previously, prior to the establishment of no-fly zones which were highly successful at stemming the violence...

An equivalence between a military operation designed to stop atrocities against a civilian population, and an operation designed to invade and indefinitely occupy an entire large nation for a variety of nebulous reasons that have mostly evaporated under scrutiny...

An equivalence between the military operation we SHOULD BE engaging in, and the war we chose to fight instead.

MarcEHaag echoes SV hereKA8:45 a.m. PT

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Thursday, November 3, 2005

The Fray's best reading today can be found in Culturebox Fray in response to Katie Roiphe on Maureen Dowd. The responses vary—from the hetero-male confessional (radwatts) that corroborates Dowd to the gentle retort that "Dowd in an editorialist" (Ozymandias1), therefore stylized anecdotes, not empirically based reporting, are her stock in trade. Sawbones offers a variation of this here:

Maureen Dowd's anecdotal evidence of anti-feminism in the dating scene is only marginally less funny than Katie Roiphe chiding her for this weakness, then attempting to rebut her argument using only anecdotal evidence. Both are making sweeping, unsupported generalizations (almost never a truly revealing line of argument), but only one of them seems to be doing it with at least the hint of a wink at her audience. Hint: I don't think it's Roiphe.

In reality, I think both writers are on-target for certain groups of men; there are certainly men who have adjusted to and enjoy the ongoing effects of feminism, just as there are those who are threatened by and recoil from them. To attempt to describe an amorphous blob called "men" and pretend that either categorization fits all of them or even is becoming a trend is silly, at least until one of them provides some numbers.… though

Breathe nails it best:

Roiphe, perversely, gets sucked into defending the rest of the world's women by trying to logically attack satire. Poor choice. You bought into the game. Dowd wants you to be offended. You can't fight comedy, even poor comedy, with facts, figures and first hand personal testimony refuting Dowd's position. It makes you look like a sucker.

The most interesting thread on the board was launched by topazz, who concedes that while "stereotyping and characterizing an entire sex is ludicrous – it's even more so not to admit what she says is real and occurs every day to women in work environments everywhere." From there, topazz elaborates:

That being said, attention should also be given to the men who treat women as colleagues and as their equals and peers, who hold admiration and respect for women in positions both above and below their own, the men who do not feel superior to women, not even to those "maids, masseuses' and secretaries" - but rather who appraise each woman on her individuality and worth as a human being both in relation to the work environment and outside of it.

"As a Seven Sisters-educated girl early in her career," naddyfive believes that "in the end, [Dowd] wants more of a Stepford life than she realizes." And chadosaurus, appreciative for the "even-handed perspective," maintains that Dowd may have the wrong idea about a guy like him and his "absolute beauty of a wife":

Somebody like Dowd might well see a couple like us out in public and mentally place me in the category of a pig who bagged a trophy wife while all the smart, ambitious girls like her were left home alone watching MacNeil-Lehrer.

But not only is that inaccurate and an insult to me, it is an even graver insult to my intelligent and strong willed wife, who never buckled under to me on anything that mattered to her. If I have spouted nonsense on occasion, she never bought it. And she maintains that attitude without ever trying to make me feel stupid. And she treats me with respect, as I do her.

Not quite so simple is it, when real people have relationships? We are more than saints or reprobates, and women may be smart, pretty, or both.

CDouglas, whose "circle of stay-at-home friends includes a lawyer, a teacher, an engineer, a publicist," writes that Dowd may be "channeling P.G. Wodehouse":

His character Bingo Little was constantly falling in love far beneath his station, until he secretly tied the knot with a waitress. Of course his wife turned out to be Rosie M. Banks, the famous novelist, gone undercover for research.

CD explains her decision:

Women like me decided to stay home because our income wasn't adequate compensation for the extra expense and work of leaving home for a job. Or, we felt our presence was necessary when our kids were very young. I personally feel blessed for having had the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mother; I know that in this economy, this is only a dream for many working women.

Successfully married women share a common commitment with their husbands to home and family. That commitment is greater than any commitment to career or self-actualization. I sense that Dowd was never willing to do that.

Several women on the Fray lament that Dowd seems to turn her back on the fundamental virtue of the women's movement—choice. Here's m-, and here's funkgenie:

The goal of feminism was indeed to foster a sense of choice for women. Women can choose to stay at home, seek a 9-5 job, or do both. But, I'm not so sure that women who choose this path are any happier than 'spinsters' like Dowd (or myself even) More and more often I hear friends who have chosen the SAHM path act quasi-embarrassed about their choice. Hinting at regrets about not getting the MA, PhD etc. I've also been at parties where the wives of colleagues answer my question of "so what do you do" with "I'm just a stay at home mom." I think its a legitimate choice so I don't think any less of her. I'm just trying to make conversation at a party where I'm highly uncomfortable as well. But there's an awkwardness that permeates the moment where it becomes clear that the problem is not with the career driven woman but with the SAHM who's not so thrilled about her chosen role.

Splendid_IREny doesn't align herself with CD but isn't drinking the revivalist-Dowd Kool-Aid:

Yeah, there are men looking for June Cleaver redux. Some of those men are in their 20s, some in their 40s. Culturally, this suggests that, in the age of internet dating, of virtual sex and porn-on-demand, some men and woman are recoiling from sexual freedom overload. Or, what might be perceived as such…

However, unless O'Dowd looks for which percentage of the population actually thinks along this route, then she's not doing her readers any favors. And, she's definitely not representing the many different stories out there. Some of those readers might look around, see one or two examples of what O'Dowd presents and not look further for examples of other lifestyles and styles of interaction. And they do exist. I know of men who, not making as much money as their wives, elected to be stay-home-fathers while the mothers were the bread-winners for the family. Those are successful and balanced marriages. Does O'Dowd explore this phenomenon?

Clearly not, since she wanted only to paint a generalization of Leave it to Beaver for the new century, then skew her findings to represent that generalization. A lot of intelligent, attractive women who use sarcasm don't have O'Dowd's credentials or her address list. To bad, then, that O'Dowd chose to stay close to what she knew.

That leaves a lot about what real women think about themselves and their relationships unknown.

Of course, there are a bevy of guys on the Fray who boil Dowd's singlehood down to a much simpler explanation. Here's Jaymon:

Going on a date with her would require three seats - one for you, one for her, and one for the enormous chip on her shoulder

Finally, take a peek at rundeep's KRo/MoDo mirror conspiracyKA9:55 a.m. PT

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Wednesday, November 2, 2005

A Common Thread: Thrasymachus sees one in "Justice Alito's decisions on criminal procedure, abortion rights, and political asylum":

the notion that a husband has a property interest in his wife.

He's denied asylum to the boyfriends of women who've been forced to undergo abortions on the theory that only a legally empowered husband would have a sufficient interest in his wife's reproductive capacity to have injury to that capacity "imputed" to himself. Shei Fei v. Gonzales, 131 Fed.Appx.390 (3rd Cir. May 16, 2005);see, Chen v. Ashcroft, 381 F.3d 221 (3rd. Cir. 2004)

He's also held that a search warrant for a husband should be construed, by "common sense" to extend to his child and his wife. Doe v. Groody, 361 F.3d 232 (3rd Cir. 2004).

And then, of course, he reasoned in support of Pennsylvania's spousal notification requirement using logic that could also be adapted, seamlessly, to support a requirement for spousal consent.

The message, I think, is pretty damn chilling. . . and pretty damn clear.

HLS2003 asks T …

Couldn't the common thread here be that he believes the marriage relationship carries consequences for both parties, both practically and legally? I hardly consider that a radical view, and I don't believe the majority of Americans, or even Senators, consider that radical either. It has nothing to do with alarmist declaiming of "property rights" in women.

… to which caliban1 responds:

The consequences you speak of may be moral ones- but they really shouldn't be legal ones...

But legally, rights to notice usually only apply when the person being notified has a right to do something after being notified. Example (a poor one I admit): say you and I own a building. I cannot destroy and/or sell the building without giving you notice as you have an equal property interest in the building. My rights in the building are no more than and no less than yours. We are equals. You have the right to stop me and/or negotiate.

There are many other examples of notice being required by law; again, notice is only given to those who have rights in whatever is being given notice about. I can feel for the husband who is not given notice, but when I give him the legal right to have notice I am giving him something much greater than sympathy: I am giving him rights. If the wife fails to give notice, can the husband sue for damages for the breach thereof? The possibilities are scary...

The_Bell offers exuberant praise for Alito and concludes:

Bush listened . . . and learned. As a result, he picked somebody that virtually nobody can oppose without seemingly being at odds, to some degree, with their past objections. His hearings will be longer and far nastier than those of Roberts and the vote will be closer but Alito will be confirmed. The judge whose decisions Justice O'Connor frequently reversed will ultimately be her replacement on the Supreme Court.

And Joe_JP deserves to be heard on the Alito appointment. Here's his analysis. 

Feeling Chipper: A handful of Democrats on the Fray are giddy that Reid & Co. went 21 on the Senate body yesterday and invoked a closed session. ElephantGun is relieved:

As a Democrat, I am finally energized somewhat by the recent cojones that the Democrats in Congress have started to show. And of course, like clockwork, the GOP has sent out its bent energy to the "liberal media" (feh) to 'appropriately categorize' this as a stunt designed to curry political favor.

Call it what you want. I call it, 'about time'. With Biden grilling Roberts, Miers being called to the carpet on not having any real qualifications … to the latest salvo to the Senate: you will NOT ignore the issues.

Thank the maker. Balls. Once thought extinct from Democrat trousers, they've shown signs of return. I could give a rat's ass what the precious GOP thinks of this or how they want to spin it. It doesn't even matter to me what comes of it. Alito may be confirmed, and no investigations of intelligence may happen, but at least the Democrats showed some interest in opposing these pathetic ideological shills masquerading as Republicans from running slipshod all over them.

Locdog says "bring it on."

Sometimes a Light Saber Is Just a Light Saber: That's what chadosaurus throws back at Aidan Walsey's post-structuralist gaze into the Star Wars series:

This is why generations of students unfairly label all academic criticism of literature and art, etc. as utter hogwash. The urge to write an article like this, and the expectation that people will take it seriously, is the same urge that causes academics to see metaphors where none exist and symbolism where the actual narrative is sufficiently compelling to inspire admiration.

Duck, Aidan, there's more—from Gilker_Kimmel here:

George Lucas believes his press releases. Nobody else should.

Star Wars is not the universe-spanning mythic adventure Lucas pretends. It is a hack-written space opera with cardboard characters play-acting through old-time Saturday morning serial cliff-hangers. It is not an art film of great depth.

Lucas got very lucky in the first Star Wars. He lucked into a combination of actors and design talent that fleshed out his anorexic fairytale in a way that hit a nerve - not because Lucas designed it to hit that nerve, but rather because of pure serendipity. It was a happy funny-bone moment that Lucas has been desperately trying - and failing - to reproduce ever since. The proof is in the steadily declining results throughout the series.

But any large, accreting human artifact, especially one made by a person of only moderate talent, will be complex if for no other reason than its creator has no idea how to integrate all the parts. And so a willing observer, one presuming that all elements have been carefully controlled and assembled, will project that presumption onto what he observes and rationalize his way to a grand unified theory of what is the mess.

Why is DVD Extras the most inviting corner of the Fray this afternoon? TheNewSnobbery nails it:

So let me get this straight -- anti-intellectuals fill the Fray to trash a fawning, academic analysis of the Star Wars series?

2005 is so schizophrenic it makes my head hurt.

Take two tablets and head hereKA2:50 p.m. PT 

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Monday, October 31, 2005

Slate thanks all fraygrants for their generous patience over the weekend while we worked on some maintenance issues.

On the nomination of Sam Alito for the Supreme Court:

HLS2003 applauds the choice and feels that Alito will pick up between 20 and 25 Democratic votes in the Senate. In addition, HLS lays out a strategy for "Court Dominance in Five Easy Lessons." Among HLS' five prescriptions?

Make the district courts look like America -- as you want it to look.

Pull out of Iraq, aka Win Elections.

… and Fraywatch's personal fave:

Accept no substitutes. The elite law schools have long since been captured by liberals, even more so than academia at large. This means at least three things: first, conservatives forged in those fires are more likely to remain staunch in the face of opposition; second, if someone is respected in the academy while still being exceedingly conservative, it speaks well of their rigor; and third, beware of those who were not well-respected by the academy beforehand, but who always craved it -- I'm looking in your direction, Justice Kennedy.

For all the panic from the left that Bush is replacing a moderate swing vote with an archconservative, JohnLex7 believes that the Alito nomination "does not necessarily mean as hard a turn to the right as people think," largely because of John Roberts:

Alito is certainly a conservative jurist, regardless of the occasional opinion that seems otherwise. 15 years of being on the bench will leave you with a long record on a whole host of issues. However, Roberts does not necessarily have that kind of record.

Roberts is the Chief Justice. He does not want to be a polarizing figure. However, what he could be is an incredibly powerful figure. If he takes the O'Connor position as the swing vote, then instead of living in Sandra Day O'Connor's world, or Anthony Kennedy's world, we might be living in John Roberts' world. Exercising that kind of power would mean that Roberts could shape the Court, and he can't shape anything if he just toes the Scalia line. In order to be the one with the real power, he can't completely agree with them, he has to chart his own course, like O'Connor did.

Given the present makeup of the court what is clear is that we will not be living in Scalia/Thomas/Alito's world. Whether we are living in Anthony Kennedy's world or Roberts' world is a different matter.

Here, J_Mann tries to set Emily Bazelon straight on the matter of Alito and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

And Thrasymachus sheds some light, albeit ironically, on Alito's judicial stance on abortion:

The poor man is being cruelly maligned and slandered by his unscrupulous feminist opponents.

Why, just last week Alito issued a decision in which he denied asylum to a Chinese woman who fled China because she had undergone a forced abortion and been ordered to report to a medical clinic for mandatory sterilization. Chen v. Gonzales, Slip Copy 2005 WL 2652051 (3rd Cir., October 18, 2005).

So take that, liberals! He's not anti-abortion at all! He's just against women having the right to choose abortion for themselves.

To clarify and expand the taxonomy of judicial philosophies, IOZ coins a new term— conservatarianterventionism:

Conservatarianterventionists believe firmly that all laws curtailing the freedom of the State to bear its fangs and start slashing at anyone and anything in its way must be struck down in the name of liberty, whereas those laws limiting the self-determinant freedom of individual action must not only be upheld and reaffirmed, but strengthened.

Here, locdog confesses that …

i wouldn't describe myself as a miers supporter, i was certainly more, ah, tolerant than many of my conservative brethren. miers, i suspected, was every bit as conservative as we could have hoped for--and easily confirmable to boot. but in hindsight, i suspect that the base wasn't so much disappointed in the miers nomination itself as they were in the prospect of losing out on what they had been gearing up for since bork: a no-holds-barred battle royale in which the democrats would finally be ground beneath our heals, filibuster and all.

looks like they're going to get their shot.

is "scalito" confirmable? without a filibuster, certainly. with one, things get a bit more complicated.

In response, rundeep declares that "[t]he fight works for Bush in so many ways." How so? Click here.

2005 MLB: Since FromtheEast was the only frayster to have the Chicago White Sox winning the American League Central, FtE wins, as promised, two complimentary tickets to a yet-to-be-determined 2006 Los Angeles Dodgers game.

Condolences, East … KA12:25 p.m PST.

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Friday, October 28, 2005

It's a big news day in the Fray and, as many fraygrants have noted, a lousy weekend for the Fray to undergo a major migration that will go a long way toward improving the forum's performance. A migration of this sort must be scheduled weeks in advance and, unfortunately, the timing stinks—but save up those column inches for Sunday evening and Monday morning.

On the Libby indictment and resignation, which should light up the Fray this afternoon brighter than Michael Beschloss' MSNBC makeup job, here's JohnLex7 declaring that Libby is the administration's designated fuckee:

In the manner of all good organized crime outfits, someone was designated by the Bush Administration to take the fall. That someone was Scooter Libby. He lied to the grand jury to protect Cheney, Rove and possibly others. He will dutifully take his punishment, pleading guilty so no one will have to testify to what he lied about. He will do some time in a reasonably easy federal facility, and then be handsomely rewarded by those backing Cheney and Bush. Since he's not in the Mafia, they won't be expecting him to do what Frankie Pentangeli did. Maybe.

Catorce unveils his crystal ball:

Libby will plead guilty to some crime for which he will receive 2 years of Martha Stewart jail. He will then write a tell-some book, give lucrative speeches, and become a conservative radio talk show host. In other words, perjury and obstruction of justice will be a nice career move for him.

There is no way Libby can defeat these charges, for one main reason. Libby would certainly have to testify in his defense and you can be sure Cheney will never allow that to happen. Why? Because Libby's cross examination would bring out every nasty little thing there is to bring out on Dick Cheney, literally putting the war on trial. And if Libby feels spiteful, he can certainly bring down a few other high ranking officals with him -- and can probably implicate them in far worse behavior. Still, Libby won't flip on anyone to obtain the get out of jail free card. Someone named "Scooter" doesn't flip, he takes the fall.

Let's close the door on the Miers escape hatch. What's most important about this story?

For Demosthenes2, it's ...

a particularly bitter family quarrel and it stems from the fracture that lies at the heart of the increasingly tense alliance between the evangelical wing of the neo-conservative movement and the business interests that comprise the real and more powerful base of the party. That's important because it can illuminate what might happen next as Bush tries to get something to go his way…

ElephantGun agrees:

The only difference between previous Bush initiatives and the Miers nomination is that Bush didn't want to go along with the right-wing this time. Bush wanted to nominate a loyal apparatchik, Bush family retainer, and all around nice woman for the job and expected the right-wing to follow his lead. The problem for Bush was that the activist right dominated the Republican Party on legal issues just like the neo-cons dominated on defense and tax crusaders dominated on the budget. Bush and the rest of the non-activist Republican Party has been the tool of the right all along. The pawns being pushed by the right-wing players. The tail being wagged by the right-wing dog.

For RoyJaruk18, it's that ...

People are fed up with cronyism. This isn't New York City under Boss Tweed in the 19th Century, or even Chicago und Richard Daley the Elder in the 20th. We need the best legal brains we can find on the Supreme Court, regardless of party affiliation or where they lie in the political spectrum, without resorting to litmus tests on lightning-rod issues. We need independent thinkers who clearly understand that it is not the job of the Supreme Court to MAKE the law, but rather to rule on the constitutionality of the laws and cases brought before it - and that is all they are supposed to do. The precedents the Supremes set are too important and have so great an impact on our society that they cannot be left to a crony loyal to a political dynasty - or to a political party.

For Steve-R here, following Dahlia Lithwick's analysis, it's that ...

Bush is now waist-deep in abortion politics. There's no soft-pedaling or dancing around this one anymore.

And he's brought it on himself. Bush is not personally committed to over-turning Roe and outlawing abortion. That's clear enough. His politics have always been very non-committal on the issue, and in recent years have consisted simply of bland and tepid declarations in support of a "culture of life." His only interest has been to play the abortion issue and the anti-abortion base for his political gain. At the same time, between that rabid base and supporters of abortion rights (who make up the majority), he has sensed a political open flame, and he doesn't want to get burned. So his strategy until now has been to play both sides of the political fence.

Bush has said that he does not have a "litmus test," and has not quizzed his appointees about their stance on abortion. I'm actually inclined to believe him there. He doesn't want to know, and he doesn't care that much. What he has cared about is that he has a "safe" nominee who can dance around the issue and at the same time mollify the pro-life base. He pulled it off with Roberts, but as Lithwick points out, those days are over. As are the days when Bush can sidestep the issue and still keep the pro-lifers in his pocket. He now needs to make up his mind and show his cards on how he's going to play the abortion issue, and face the consequences.

And for HLS2003, who "for once [agrees] with Lithwick," it's that ...

conservatives have decided to pierce the judicial veil. "In OUR Senate, from OUR President, we get OUR candidate," is the feeling. But I believe that by playing by the rules of a highly political and powerful Court, conservatives are joining liberals in sowing the seeds of ultimately diminished power and legitimacy for the judicial branch.

Thanks for you patience as we upgrade our system … KA11:40 a.m.

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