The Jade Monkey

I didn't have a superiority complex until inferior people gave me one.

Location: San Antonio, Texas, United States


Pro Gonzolo

There is a lot of opposition out there to the prospect of President Bush nominating Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to replace Sandra Day O'Connor. I am not certain I don't join in that opposition; nevertheless I think a deeper examination would be, if not valuable, at least interesting. In this piece, I'd like to play devil's advocate by saying an unwavering demand for "no more Souters" may in fact be depriving the Democrats of a well-deserved Souter of their own, in the person of Gonzales. In other words, building upon several previous posts, Gonzales may be more conservative than we think, less liberal than we fear.

First, let us take as given two or three propositions, not about Gonzales, but about Bush:

1. The President is a man of loyalty, and values that trait in others.
1b. The President really wants to appoint the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice.
1c. Because of 1a and ab, the President really wants it to be the Attorney General.
2. The President, in addition to being a man of loyalty, is also a man of principle and of long-term vision, and values those traits in others.

I don't think these questions, put separately, would reach with anything but unanimous consent from Bush supporters, but put together, there seems to be a bit of a disconnect. Why is this so? Why don't we trust the President in this matter?

He promised that if elected, he would name to the court strict constructionists in the mold of Scalia and Thomas. I believe he is an honest man, and committed to these principles, so if he wishes to name Alberto Gonzales to the Supreme Court, it is obvious that he does not view him as antithetical to those principles or to the long-term goals of the conservative base.

Now much of the fear on both the left and the right involving any potential Bush nominee is that 800-pound gorilla, Roe. And this is the issue in the opposition to Gonzales on the right. But do we truly know what Gonzales' views on the matter are? He has ruled, so far as I can tell, not so much on the core issue itself, but on the judicial-override clause in a state legislative statute. In ruling with the majority (a majority Pricilla Owen joined in full or in part on at least 2 instances), he has not shown a propensity to favor abortion so much as he has a deference for the legislative process. And isn't this what we really want? For the will of the people on the subject, through their elected legislatures, to be heard? It is presumably possible, for the non-idealogue, to favor abortion, but to think Roe was wrongly decided. And again, I am not sure what Gonzales' views are. While a concurring statement saying "...even if we ourselves might have made different policy choices" may be merely euphemistic for the usual liberal "I can't legislate my morals on anyone else" tripe, isn't it at least equally likely that he's hinting he's more on our side, but aquiesced to what he saw as the intent of the law.

(As an aside, in noting Gonzales' siding with the majority, I recall reading somewhere that one of Rehquists' virtues as Chief Justice was a willingness to change sides when his was lost, so that he could assign himself to write the majority opinion to avoid the setting of dangerous precedent - to neuter it as much as possible as it were. A question, to which I do not know the answer: would the majorities with which Gonzales sided have been majorities even without his vote? And did he actually write the opinion for the majority in any of these cases, or just a concurrence, if that?)

I see reason to suspect that Gonzales would at the least be willing to uphold legislation restricting partial-birth abortion, replacing O'Connor's decisive 5th vote for the bad guys with a 5th vote for the good guys. And this too can only be a good thing, a step in the right direction.

I know it would feel good to strike the enemy down with one blow, that it would be righteous and just. But would it be lasting? A morass of wrong-headed jurisprudence has sprung up in the last three decades, the ramifications of which will take time and careful effort to clear awar completely. If you tried to fell a mighty oak (though that image is far more noble than the Culture of Death deserves, the metaphor will have to do) with one swing of the axe, you'd be as (more) like to shiver the haft as to topple the tree. President Bush has indicated he sees the victory of the Culture of Life being, of necessity, an incremental one. He has indicated that while he sees abortion as an unequivocal moral wrong, the country is not yet ready to overturn Roe. This is probably, sadly, true. We have taken a while in getting to the edge of the abyss, we will have to edge ourselves back carefully. A justice willing only (if only it is) to put logical limits on this secularist sacrament may be all we need to put the brakes on the erosion of our legal and moral foundations.

In the same vein, remember Reagan's 80% rule. We can geth the other 20% next time. This is the same philosophy I think is fundamental to the anti-anti-Specter coalition and the anti-anti-deal coalition, the Coalition of the Chillin'. If we overreach, right though we may be, we risk MSMisinformed public backlash, being viewed as two-year olds wanting cake AND cookies, and getting neither. Or managing both, getting sick as well in the deal, and throwing it all up. Slow and steady wins the race, though I know this is of little consolation to those who deem it unconscienable to piddle around, to suffer a gradual reversal while an horrific infanticide is going on now - a view I share, and so I am little consoled myself.

To use another analogy (if I have not used up my allowance), I am something of a Texas Hold'em afficianado, and putting the politics in the context of a poker game, I think you could call the President an aggressive player, but not a player on tilt. The best way to increase your stack is to get people to call, and you're more likley to do that without going all in. Sometimes that will only steal you the blinds. Sometimes you'll get called and win. But sometimes you'll get called and lose everything. I think Bush is a skilled poker player, and I think he may be slow-playing his hand, Alberto Gonzales.

The bottom line is President Bush trusts Gonzales, and I trust President Bush. And, unlike (I assume) his father, with Souter, or Reagan with O'Connor or Kennedy, Bush knows Gonzales very well. If he's looked into his eyes and taken his measure, that's good enough for me.

To put it more conspiratorially, in the moonbat fashion (and if the DUmmies or the Kossacks get ahold of this, can I claim royalties?), since Bush stole the election and he's something more nefarious and evil than the love- (hate-?) child of Hitler and Satan, isn't it all probable that, knowing he'd be installed as President by the neocons, and maybe the Illuminati, he ordered Gonzales to pretend to be moderate and pro-"choice" so as to fool those last heroic defenders of human rights and democracy, the Democrats?

Again, I freely admit that I don't know, and may be missing some more telling facts. I freely admit this may be pure fantasy and entirely more faith in Gonzales (or Bush, or both) than is warranted. And I don't disagree with those who say there's no reason to pick Gonzales when we can have a surer thing, or with those who would accept him as a second (or better yet, third) nominee, but not as the first. And I do somewhat doubt, for all these reasons, that Gonzales will be Bush's first nominee. Right now I would bet on one of the women (which one, again, I don't know, though if forced to guess, I'd say Edith Jones), but I'd also bet that Gonzales will get his chance later. Nor do I disagree that the Democrats will be wholly ruthless and unethical in their attempts to bring down whomever the President puts forward, and that even a supposed moderate like Gonzales stands little chance of giving someone more conservative any more leeway later on.

Nevertheless, this random thought exercise is submitted for your consideration. Do we serve our purpose by not giving Bush, and by extension Gonzales, the benefit of the doubt, especially if Bush nominates him and we, in our righteous anger, stay home in 2006 and 2008? Do we protest too much? Or is this a bunch of hogwash?


Blogger Barry said...

That was an extremely well thought out and well put post. I have to admit that I am quite ambivalent about Gonzalez. Nevertheless, (and I believe you share this sentiment) I would take a "strict-constructionist" who would defer to the law as written, over a rabid "pro-lifer" that would be an activist jurist.

11:22 AM  

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