Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Roberts Bug-Eyed Angry on Civil Rights but Smooth as Silk on Privacy

It's quite interesting to me.

To the extent that Roberts' facade "cracked" at all, it was when he was being questioned about his views about race and civil rights. He got testy, did push-back - in other words, he let a bit of who he really is show through.

Shame that these issues have been largely shunted aside by the majority of folks who put energy into opposing Roberts.

In contrast, from what I am watching, Roberts more than handled the questions about privacy -- perhaps because there is far less of his own writing to slap him around with than there is on the issues relating to people of color and discrimination, so we have to largely take his word for it. Either way, Roberts was smooth as silk (his careful discussion of the limited value of stare decisis when it comes to the high court reviewing constitutional decisions should make crystal clear where he stands) and I predict that his detractors folks have now lost even the tenuous traction his prior work left them on this issue. Indeed, some of the comments above make clear that folks are already buying into his new "I've changed my mind" story.

The best that Roberts could say about his anti-civil rights views when being asked directly about his own words was "you misrepresented me" and "that was my job." He never ONCE said that he'd "changed his mind" "didn't believe personally" in what he was arguing. Nothing. Because it wasn't important enough to anyone for him to have to front, as he had to do on privacy rights.

Yet the issue of civil rights is of so little political value to the vast majority of progressives that we chose to fight harder on Roberts' ambiguous privacy record than we did on his fairly unambiguous civil rights record, which should have made him just as unacceptable but clearly is relatively meaningless to those deciding what is "most important" to progressives.

Oh well, it's only 39,000,000 people.


Of course, I predict it will be completely lost on everyone that had we crafted the right primary message of opposition -- which did not shunt away civil rights issues in favor of a singular, completely reproductive rights message -- we might have been able to actually make a dent into the "smooth sailing" that this bug eyed man (bug eyed because when he's angry, his eyes get as big as saucers, in case you haven't noticed) who is about to ascend to the role of Chief Justice is now facing.

But as we all now know, it is not the job of the court to solve society's problems. Your new Chief Justice makes clear. Indeed, the Court has no right to step in to fix these things, according to him.

So it's business as usual again in America at least about some things. And we as progressives let it happen, because of our own tunnelvision about what mattered most.



At 3:45 PM, Blogger Pam said...

I was listening to the hearings in the car going home and caught the portion with Roberts doing the "I was a 26 year old" story to deflect having ANY opinion about the Voting Rights Act extension during the Reagan era. He sounded completely disingenuous, but he didn't ever answer as to whether he had personal opinions about anything he worked on.

I had to turn it off after that old queen Lindsay Graham starting kissing his ass.

At 6:30 AM, Blogger Shanikka said...

You got that right, Pam - he never did express his opinion. Because he didn't have to - it was clear nobody was listening to Ted Kennedy anyway, since the "word on the street" was that it was all about privacy.

Roberts' performance two days in now merely confirms what I always thought: he is the perfect anti-Bork. He is the ultimate stealth judicial candidate, without any opinion that he actually will express. And that's exactly why he was picked. Because nobody will "make him" express a view, stymied as they are by the mythical "convention" that says that a lawyer seeking one of the 9 most coveted jobs for lawyers in the country nonetheless must fail to have any human opinion about anything just in case someday he will have to do his job and make a decision about something. This whole idea of "tabula rasa" jurists was clearly not developed by lawyers, since the entire experience of law school training is grounded in...you guessed it....formulating an opinion LOL.

What a bunch of hooey.

We won't even go there about Lindsay, even though he is a very interesting politician, he's also such a drama queen when he wants to be. He had a real opportunity during both the Clinton impeachment process and the Abu Ghraib morass to break ranks - clearly he's a talented lawyer and has some conscience deep down under all that deep cover. But on the other hand he's closeted as the day is long and clearly gets off on the power he has as a Republican. I have these visions of him coming out on his death bed and apologizing a la George Wallace for having been such a jerk his entire political career.

But then again, I didn't believe George Wallace either. It's real easy to be sorry when one is facing one's maker.


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