Thursday, November 10, 2005

Mike Kinsley: He's Still Got It

Kinsley is back at Slate and still using the same too-clever-by-half logic on which his career was built. Here he is telling us that Judge Aliton is "too conservative":
The Republican counterargument will be fourfold: A) He is not very conservative; B) no one knows how conservative he is, and no one is going to find out, because discussing his views in any detail would involve "prejudging" future issues before the court; C) it doesn't matter whether he is conservative—even raising the question "politicizes" what ought to be a nonpartisan search for judicial excellence; and D) sure he's conservative. Very conservative. Who won the election?

Actually D), the most valid argument, is one you will never hear, although the Harriet Miers detour showed what happens if Republican activists suspect that a nominee really might not be onboard the ideological train.

The other Republican arguments are laughable. Of course Alito is very conservative. That's why he got nominated.

Get it? Kinsley says that Harriet Miers got thrown overboard because she wasn't conservative enough. He then says that you know Sam Aliton is "very conservative" by the simple fact that he was nominated. But wait, Miers wasn't conservative, and she got nominated.

So was Miers a conservative who was rejected for reasons other than ideology? Or does the act of nomination not, in itself, signify deep conservatism in the nominee? Kinsley, of course, wants it both ways.

(I know the Miers fight was three whole weeks ago, but it's worth recalling that her rejection was about competence, not ideology.)


Anonymous said...

It was about competence and ideology. Why else would so many conservative commentator's bring up the stuff about her sponsoring a left wing women's forum? Or the pro-choice stuff in some speech she did back in 19-whatever. It was both.

Also, Kinsley's argument does not strike me as a contradiction. He's basically saying, "because Mier's was deemed insufficiently conservative by Republican activists, Bush nominated an especially conservative person to correct for his original error.

Anonymous said...

Jake and Kinsley 1, JVL 0.

Kinsley doesn’t say Miers was not conservative, he says that she was suspected of not being conservative enough. Perception ≠ Reality.

And actually, Miers’s rejection was about qualifications and ideology, not competence. Nobody really knew anything about her competence. All we had were her qualifications, which were thin, but the much-vaunted conservative “principle” that every nominee deserves a hearing and an up-or-down vote (there being, in conservative minds, some other kind of vote, perhaps side-to-side) would have given senators and the American public a forum to assess her competence. Conservatives opted not to give Miers a chance to demonstrate her competence; instead they campaigned against her by belittling her qualifications. It was about what was on her resume, not what her actual abilities might be.

That her ideology was also an issue for some, if not all, of her opponents is demonstrated amply by the daily blogstorms over her political contributions and the sometimes non-conservative content of her bar speeches. And even the high-minded conservatives who today claim it was all about Miers’s thin resume kept describing her nomination as a betrayal of the conservative legal establishment, which had worked so hard for thirty years now to have strong conservative judges on the appeals courts, ready for promotion when their party controlled the White House and Senate.

After all, even JVL led a post on Miers by writing,

“Patterico has excellent post on Miers, this time examining some of the nominee's views on the rights to choice and the nature of judicial activism. Damning stuff.”

Elsewhere, JVL approvingly quotes Bainbridge writing,

“She has no public track record of proven conservative judicial values (what happened to Bush's 2000 promise to appoint people in the old of Scalia and Thomas?). How do we know she won't be another Souter? or Kennedy?”

And Morrissey writing,

“Other women with judicial experience and/or a stronger track record of conservatism could have been found.”

And JVL also approvingly quotes Meringoff writing,

“So instead of a 50-year old conservative experienced jurist we get a 60-year old with no judicial experience who may or may not be conservative.”

Sure, it wasn’t about ideology, even though conservatives kept saying how disappointed they were that her ideological commitment was not sufficiently proven.