My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


When Lying and Smearing Get You Nowhere. . .

then, and ONLY then, should you fall back on the merits of an argument.

At least, that seems to be the approach of the New York Times editorial page. Today, after months of flip-floppery support of the filibuster (See Powerline for more on this aspect), the Times finally decides to come around to arguing the merits of Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown. A bit laughably so, but still . . .

If war breaks out in the Senate over judicial nominations, the initial battle is likely to center on two women, Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown. Republicans seem to think that those nominees will come off as so likeable that Democrats will be forced to back down from their threats of a filibuster. But when the American public looks beyond the photo-op, it will be clear why these women do not belong on the federal bench. Both have records of kowtowing to big business and showing contempt for ordinary people who are the victims of injustice.

That's a start. . .but then the Times goes predictably down a broad-ranging attack on Republicans:

Senate Democrats have confirmed almost all of President Bush's judicial nominations, more than 200 of them. But they have balked at a few of the least qualified, most ideologically driven nominees. The Republicans have, shamefully, countered with accusations of ethnic and religious bias. When Democrats blocked one far-right Hispanic, Republicans claimed that he was a victim of anti-Hispanic discrimination - even though Hispanic groups opposed him. An address by Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, was heard last weekend as part of a convention that attacked Senate Democrats as being "against people of faith" for blocking judicial nominees. Now the Republicans appear to be trying to make the opposition look sexist.

Yes, SHAMEFULLY. . . As if resorting to pointing out prima fascia discrimination is an exclusive tool of Republicans. HELLO!?! Jesse Jackson, please phone the office! And let's point out which Hispanic groups opposed Miguel Estrada--oh, no, that might reveal those groups for the liberal political action organizations which they are. But what really cracks me up is the lead of "Senate Democrats have confirmed. . ." Yep. All by themselves. To them is the power and the glory and . . . Well, you get my point.

Times concludes thus: The Republicans are trying to make the fight about process, about whether the Democrats have a right to filibuster judicial nominees. It is a dishonest discussion: Senator Frist does not like to admit that he participated in a filibuster of an appeals court nomination made by President Clinton. But even more important, the discussion of process is crowding out the debate we should be hearing over whether the nominees being fought over would make good federal judges. Justice Owen and Justice Brown have extensive records that point to the inescapable conclusion that they would not.

First of all, throw out the red herring about Frist participating in a filibuster--it didn't happen. Had it happened, you can bet we would know all about it and the Times would be trumpeting it to the rafters. There's a vast difference between a slight delay of a nominee, and the interminable obstruction of nominations which the Dems have been engaged in. And secondly, if these women were "inescapably" bad jurists, then why did the ABA mark Owens "Well Qualified" and mark Brown "Qualified"?

Or is it that the Times is a much better judge of judicial temperament than the ABA? Such arrogance would be consistent.

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