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A winning pick

By Bruce Walker
web posted July 25, 2005

The selection of Judge John Roberts to the Supreme Court has hit another grand slam. It has left the Left "twisting slowly in the wind," although the Left does not know it yet. Why?

US President George W. Bush speaks to the press with his supreme court judge nominee John Roberts after a breakfast meeting at the White House last week
US President George W. Bush speaks to the press with his supreme court judge nominee John Roberts after a breakfast meeting at the White House last week

First, two years ago Judge Roberts was overwhelmingly confirmed by the United States Senate. Anything brought up now about his integrity or qualifications will look ridiculous, and it will make Democrats opposing him purely partisan.

Second, Roberts is young, attractive and articulate. He looks like the "good guy" in any confrontation with frumps like Leahy, Kennedy and Schumer. This means that in a public relations battle, Roberts will look like an honorable victim and his enemies will look like thugs.

Third, the conventionality of his selection – picking a judge from the D.C. Circuit who has worked in Washington, and one who will probably get a high rating from the ABA – reduces the areas of controversy.

Fourth, although it ought not to matter, Judge Roberts was born in New York, raised in Indiana, went to Harvard and lives in Maryland. This makes it much easier for Republicans like Santorum, Chafee, DeWine, Snowe and Collins to support him and it makes it harder for Democrats like Byrd, Bayh and even Clinton to oppose him.

Fifth, the selection puts a young man on the Supreme Court. He will be on the Supreme Court for a long time, and his ideological record and makes him as near a sure thing as conservative can desire. Mortality increases works against the Left – John Kerry and Nancy Pelosi are the ingénue of the Left – and young, vigorous conservatives know that time is on their side.

Sixth, the Left is blindsided. They expected a woman. They expected a "first," like a black woman or an Hispanic. They expected Bush to pander to affirmative action, and he politely and clearly rejected that approach. That means that President Bush has a half step lead in the battle, which means Democrats will be reacting, not attacking.

Seventh, Susan Estrich has already begun saying that "she really wanted a woman," but that sort of talk sounds utterly phony when President Bush pushed so hard for Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown. Democrats will actually lose male votes (half the electorate) if they keep yelping the gender war cry. What is true for women is also true of blacks and Hispanics, both attacked by the Democrats who supposedly champion their cause. This appointment is not the death knell of affirmative action and quotas, but it is a good shot across the bow.

Eighth, his confirmation by a voice vote two years ago means that Senate Democrats like Nelson of Nebraska and Nelson of Florida and other 2006 candidates from Red states will pay a price if support a filibuster or oppose his confirmation. It puts Harry Reid and the Senate Minority leadership behind the eight ball: they can look like the real extremists, or they can not fight hard.

Nine, President Bush will win this battle. That means that the perception that his second term will be plagued with problems will lose steam. This can be the building of momentum going into the 2006 elections. Winning creates political capital. Getting nominees confirmed, fairly easily, will make the President more popular and influential.

Tenth, when President Bush wins this court battle, it will make it even easier for him to win the next court battles. Democrats who complain that Roberts is not a female may well face, in the next appointment, a conservative woman jurist, making President Bush look responsive to their concerns (and, if they complain, making their concerns look silly.)

Eleventh, if this battle goes well, the Chief Justice Rehnquist may well be more inclined to retire soon. Others, like Stevens, may have to retire soon. Some, like Kennedy, may prefer to retire. Soon, very soon, we may have a Bush Court.

Twelfth, the timing of the appointment and the universally recognized integrity of Judge Roberts takes Karl Rove off the front pages. It forces Democrats to either stop talking about Rove or to start talking about Roberts, and if they keep talking about Rove, then it makes it appear as if they do not consider the Supreme Court all that important. "Misunderestimated" – again.

Bruce Walker is a senior writer with Enter Stage Right. He is also a frequent contributor to The Pragmatist and The Common Conservative.

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