Thursday, September 15, 2005

X - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts

The Roberts confirmation hearings are lots of fun. I loved constitutional law, so it's nice to be reminded of that class. More importantly, the Democrats are suffering for their huge failure to connect with American voters. Everyone knew, before the hearings started, that there was no reason for Roberts to give too much up in the way of substantive answers.

And why? Because Republicans don't need Democrats' votes, because Democrats are losing seats to Republicans, because Republicans are better at connecting with voters, because Republicans have a soul, a central organizing ideal, around which everything else flows. Voters see a Republican and they see someone who built a platform on a foundation of religion (even the low-taxes bit is religious in origin, from the 1800s economic darwinist movement thing popularized by Protestants).

Democrats are, on the other hand, a party currently consisting of people running around with planks and trying to build a platform without agreeing on the foundation and shape and building materials. Issues galore have the Democrats, but no discernable central theme or soul. And this is why Democrats are so frustrated today. Because John Roberts is, from what I can see, a good old fashioned conservative, someone whose highest allegiance is to a single ideal --the law, and they have no way to relate to that. Because the best they have is an allegiance to a bunch of positions -- gay marriage, affirmative action, wetlands protection. There is no central ideal at the core of their being.

That being said, my favorite bit from the hearings so far is the funny bit from Charles Schumer:

It's as if I asked you: What kind of movies do you like? Tell me two or three good movies. And you say, I like movies with good acting. I like movies with good directing. I like movies with good cinematography.
And I ask you, No, give me an example of a good movie. You don't name one. I say, Give me an example of a bad movie.
You won't name one. Then I ask you if you like
Casablanca, and you respond by saying, Lots of people like 'Casablanca.'
You tell me it's widely settled that Casablanca is one of the great movies.

Because it illustrates Schumer's frustration, appropriately illustrates the way Roberts won't be direct in his answers, and shows the important idea of movie preferences being Important. Our favorite movies are supposed to be windows into our souls, hints at our unique perspective and experience of the world. I'm not sure how true it is, but Roberts actually replied to Schumer by saying his favorite movies are Dr Zhivago and North by Northwest. So now thousands of movie buffs are probably trying to tease some hint at Roberts' inner life from these movies... since I never saw one and saw the other only once, I am useless in this regard.

But at the end of the day, it's obvious that Bush nominated someone who can do the job, and no one can argue with that. If the Democrats want to make nominees give them more answers and reassure them, and if Democrats want to have justices that suit their ideas, Democrats have to win more elections. And until they get a soul that burns as bright in their hearts as the Republican's soul burns in theirs, that isn't going to happen.


Nate said...

Wow, I had no problem with Roberts before, almost...egads...liking him. But now that I know his fav movie is North By Northwest I have to applaud Bush for the choice.
What is this world coming to?

Eric said...


You think so? You think Republicans have a soul? I don't, and I think after seeing Bush's callous response (non-response, at first) to Hurricane Katrina, Americans are waking up. Hell, even some in the GOP are realizing that Bush is willing to mortgage the future of this country.

Iraq? Afghanistan? Rebuilding the Gulf Coast? "Nah, we don't need to roll back tax cuts for the richest 1%," Dubya says. "We'll just let our grandchildren and great-grandchildren pay the interest for the next 200 years."

Even some Republicans are waking up and smelling the electoral discontent. The GOP will see substantial losses in the 2006 midterms. Bush has caused damage to this country that will last for decades, and finally, the brain dead American populace is realizing this.

John Roberts is so dull and inoffensive, that no one (including me, a raging liberal) can raise much objection to him. He'll be a good Chief Justice, and Bush made a fairly safe choice on this one. We'll see who he nominates to fill the second vacancy -- GWB has very little political capital to spend right now, so my guess is that he'll make another safe, inoffensive, dull choice.

But the Democrats in the Senate are doing their job, as mandated by the Constitution. I'm glad they're asking Roberts pointed questions, even if they end up voting "Yes" in the end. At least they're taking their duties seriously, unlike the majority of Senate Republicans, who would have rubber-stamped Satan himself if GWB had put him forward.

lee said...

Yeah, Eric, I think the Republicans have a soul. Perhaps it's an animal soul running roughshod with no godly soul there to discipline it. But Republicans, like them or their ideas or not, are a party that's much more unified than the Democrats. Sure, you can find fissures, but they have more in common than separates them. When I see Democrats speaking today, I see people who are getting good at reacting to Republicans, not very good at offering a competing vision. Sure, they're out of office, but again, that didn't happen on its own. Democrats have lost their way and opposing Bush isn't enough for them to win in 2006, I'm afraid. It's not enough that people don't like Bush -- we learned that LAST year.

Remember, also, that I am a registered Green and not a Democrat. I never voted Nader or anything that drastic, but I am honestly more disaffected with the Democrats than Republicans, because I never expected anything good from the Republicans.