Wednesday, July 27, 2005

And So It Begins

The onslaught of cynical and insinuative attacks on John Roberts' conservatism has begun.

Consider this opening by the Boston Globe's Charlie Savage (great name for a reporter, yes?):

"As a young aide in the Reagan administration's Justice Department, John G. Roberts Jr., now a Supreme Court nominee, advised his conservative colleagues to cloak their views behind broadly acceptable terms such as ''judicial restraint," according to memos released yesterday."

Cloak their views. How sinister and dishonest! What was he referring to?

'In 1981, for example, when the Justice Department was prepping Supreme Court nominee Sandra Day O'Connor for the same Senate confirmation questioning that Roberts will soon face, Roberts counseled her to avoid giving direct answers on legal issues facing the court.

" 'The approach was to avoid giving specific responses to any direct questions on legal issues likely to come before the Court, but demonstrating in the response a firm command of the subject area and awareness of the relevant precedents and arguments,' Roberts wrote in one memo describing the mock questioning sessions he held with her."

This is hardly groundbreaking strategy, and has been employed (as prudence requires) routinely by court nominees for decades. For what legitimate journalistic reason would Savage characterize this advice as "advising his conservative colleagues to cloak their views?"

It is clear from a fair reading of the material (insofar as it is quoted in the article) that, in fact, there was nothing sinister or controversial about Roberts' comments or advice -- he was (as the article briefly notes) simply counseling in favor of "the need to avoid the sharper edges of debate."

Sounds like prudent politics to me. Oddly, however, "avoiding the sharper edges of debate" is an art that has been entirely lost on the vast majority of Congress.

Savage's work here stands out (even among the Globe writers) in its biased innuendo.


And what do we make of this:

This morning's Globe carried a story by AP reporter David Espo, the headline of which was "Democrats seek more on Roberts." The story focused on the Senate Democrats' "struggle to unearth [Roberts'] elusive views on abortion, civil rights, and other controversial issues," highlighting the dispute over whether or not the White House should release documents from Roberts' days in the solicitor general's office.

[Ed.: "elusive views," as though Judge Roberts had something to hide, or indeed was hiding them.]

The article raises, only at the very end, the point that the attorney-client privilege has been the basis of refusal by seven former solicitors general from both Democratic and Republican administrations. But Joe Biden disagreed, saying "That's a big mistake [witholding the documents]. There's precedent for these kinds of documents being released in the past." And the article closes with Biden asking, "And why are they always looking for a fight?" (Huh??)

By noon today, the Espo article was no longer posted on the Globe's on-line version (and I could locate it nowhere else through Google). Instead, the Savage article had taken its place (in the Globe).

Like Savage's article, Espo pointed out Roberts' memorandum regarding the prepping of nominee O'Connor. But it also included reference to a later memo in which Roberts counseled Attorney General Smith how to respond to conservative sniping that judicial nominees were not conservative enough:

"...we should shift the debate and briefly touch on our judicial restraint themes. It really should not matter what the personal ideology of our appointees may be, so long as they recognize that their ideology should have no role in the decisional process," Roberts wrote.

Curiously, Charlie Savage did not find this portion of Roberts' counsel as worthy of reporting as did Espo.

Happily linked to OTB.

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?