Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Replying to Ann Coulter

Powerline responds to Ann Coulter whose concerns about the Roberts nomination were highlighted in our previous post:

Less reasonable, it seems to me, is Ann Coulter's complaint reported by Drudge that Roberts may not really be a conservative. Coulter cites the Souter debacle. But Souter was an unknown from New Hampshire whose conservatism was vouched for by John Sununu (conservative, but a politician, not an active lawyer) and Warren Rudman (not even a conservative). Roberts has been a player in Washington legal circles, including actively conservative ones, for more than two decades. And he has worked side-by-side with many of the leading conservative lawyers in D.C. in one or more Republican administrations. To my knowledge, none has a bad word to say about him. The fact that fair-minded liberals also respect him shouldn't be considered a negative.

Roberts may not be as conservative as a few who reportedly were on Bush's list. And a longer track record as a judge would have been nice. But it's unfair to suggest that Roberts is or will be anything like Souter. A comparison to Rehnquist would be far more apt. Indeed, while Coulter contends that "stealth" nominees "never" work out, I don't recall Rehnquist, plucked by Nixon from the Justice Department, having a more substantial track record than Roberts can point to.

Despite Coulter's misgivings the response among conservatives to Roberts' nomination remains predominately positive and the response among the left remains predominately, if not uniformly, negative. These are good signs.

Conservative Dissent

Despite our earlier report on the pleasure conservatives were taking in the John Roberts nomination, the approval is not unanimous. Ann Coulter, for one, is skeptical. According to Matt Drudge Coulter will be releasing the following statement:

"We don't know much about John Roberts. Stealth nominees have never turned out to be a pleasant surprise for conservatives. Never. Not ever... Oh, yeah...we know he's argued cases before the supreme court. big deal; so has Larry Flynt's attorney."

So declares conservative columnist Ann Coulter in a new dispatch set for release.

Coulter declares: It means nothing that Roberts wrote briefs arguing for the repeal of Roe v. Wade when he worked for Republican administrations. He was arguing on behalf of his client, the United States of America. Roberts has specifically disassociated himself from those cases, dropping a footnote to a 1994 law review article that said:

"In the interest of full disclosure, the author would like to point out that as Deputy Solicitor General for a portion of the 1992-93 Term, he was involved in many of the cases discussed below. In the interest of even fuller disclosure, he would also like to point out that his views as a commentator on those cases do not necessarily reflect his views as an advocate for his former client, the United States."

This would have been the legal equivalent, after O.J.'s acquittal, of Johnnie Cochran saying, "hey, I never said the guy was innocent. I was just doing my job."

And it makes no difference that conservatives in the White House are assuring us Roberts can be trusted. We got the exact same assurances from officials working for the last president Bush about David Hackett Souter. I believe their exact words were, "Read our lips; Souter's a reliable conservative."

From the theater of the absurd category, the Republican National Committee's "talking points" on Roberts provide this little tidbit:

"In the 1995 case of Barry v. Little, Judge Roberts argued-free of charge-before the D.C. Court of Appeals on behalf of a class of the neediest welfare recipients, challenging a termination of benefits under the District's Public Assistance Act of 1982."

I'm glad to hear the man has a steady work record, but how did this make it to the top of his resume?

Finally, lets ponder the fact that Roberts has gone through 50 years on this planet without ever saying anything controversial. That's just unnatural.

If a smart and accomplished person goes this long without expressing an opinion, they'd better be pursuing the Miss America title.

That sounds like Ann. No doubt that when the port side web sites pick up her comments their paranoia will kick in and they'll immediately shift into conspiracy mode. They'll soon be surmising that Karl Rove has had Coulter raise these objections in a deliberate ploy to make liberals think that Roberts must be too moderate for conservative tastes. If conservatives don't like him, the reasoning will go, then he must be okay, and the libs will be gulled into softening their opposition to him.

Thus, they'll be exhorting each other, they must not be fooled. They must be wise as serpents and gentle as pit bulls. They must not allow Rove to make fools of them yet again. It'll be fun to watch.

Only Fools Believe

Michael Barone issues a caution to anyone who would put any confidence in Joseph Wilson or any of the other witch-hunters who are afoot today seeking to throw Karl Rove on the flaming pyre:

In September 2003, Wilson said, "It's of keen interest to me to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs." He wrote a book called "The Politics of Truth," which got rave reviews from the mainstream press, and he became a foreign policy adviser to John Kerry's campaign.

But Wilson ... lied. His Times article said he had been sent by the CIA at the request of Vice President Dick Cheney. But Cheney denies he made any such request, and former CIA Director George Tenet said the trip was initiated inside the agency.

Wilson's article said George W. Bush lied in his 2003 State of the Union Address when he said that British intelligence reported that Iraq had sought to buy uranium in Africa. But Wilson's mission covered only one country, and the British government has stood by its report.

Moreover, the report that Wilson sent the CIA said that Iraq had sought to buy uranium in Niger in 1998, unsuccessfully; agency analysts concluded, not unreasonably, that this strengthened rather than weakened the case against Saddam.

Wilson denied repeatedly that his wife had played any part in his assignment to Niger. But the Senate Intelligence Committee, in a report subscribed to by members of both parties, said she had suggested his name.

In other words, Mr. Wilson is estranged from the truth and seems willing to say anything he deems necessary to hurt the Bush administration. Whatever testimony he might offer in the matter of his wife's status as a CIA agent and whether she was or was not deliberately outed is testimony which only a fool or a left-wing true believer could place any credence in.