Monday, October 3, 2005

Tough Breed

Here's a brief story about the kind of men who are fighting against Islamic extremists in Iraq so that our families are safer from them here:

Lt. Col. Matthew Lopez was awarded the Silver Star for his actions during multiple firefights his Marines were engaged in during battles in al Qaim, Iraq, in April 2004. Shot in the back during an ambush on his convoy and with multiple broken ribs, it was not until after a second firefight further down the road and well into the night that he recieved treatment.

Lt. Col. Lopez was awarded the prestigious Silver Star today for his actions during Operation Iraqi Freedom, when his unit came under fire near the Syrian border in Iraq.

Riding in the 3rd vehicle of an 8-vehicle convoy, heading to assist other Marines in another firefight, Lopez's own unit was suddenly hit with enemy fire. The Marines fired back as they had numerous times before.

When the smoke cleared, Lopez and his Marines had killed 25 insurgents. Twenty-two Marines in the convoy lay wounded, including Lopez himself.

"The shot hit (my) back," said Lopez. In addition, the impact of the round also broke a few of his ribs.

"My first thought was I didn't want to pass out," said Lopez, a Chicago native. "We'd already fought through one ambush and I wanted to get the injured Marines to the (corpsman) as quickly as possible."

The Marines were involved in another fight at a forward base checkpoint, and needed fire support. It wasn't until that night that Lopez was treated for the wounds he sustained.

Lt. Col. Lopez was Cpl. Jason Dunham's Battalion Commander, who saved his fellow Marines by selflessly diving on a grenade thrown by an insurgent. Dunham's Kilo Company 3/7, has a lion's share of honorable Marines, right up the chain to their commanding officer.

Brave, tough men. It's little wonder the enemy has never won a single combat engagement with our troops in Iraq. Nor is it any wonder that the enemy prefers to attack women and children rather than take on Marines like these.

Fly Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee

Conservatives are split on George Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers for a seat on the Supreme Court. The American Center for Law and Justice calls Miers an "excellent" choice. But others are less pleased. A group called Public Advocate has released a statement which states that:

"The President's nomination of Miers is a betrayal of the conservative, pro-family voters whose support put Bush in the White House in both the 2000 and 2004 elections and who were promised Supreme Court appointments in the mold of Thomas and Scalia. Instead we were given 'stealth nominees,' who have never ruled on controversial issues, more in the mold of the disastrous choice of David Souter by this President's father.

"When there are so many proven judges in the mix, it is unacceptable this President has appointed a political crony with no conservative credentials. This attempt at 'Bush Packing' the Supreme Court must not be allowed to pass the Senate and we will forcefully oppose this nomination."

Strong stuff. William Kristol at the Weekly Standard is no less dismayed, claiming to be "disappointed, depressed, and demoralized."

Viewpoint joins Kristol in being disappointed that Bush didn't pick a proven conservative from among the eight or nine candidates that have outstanding judicial records, and we're concerned, too, that Meirs has no real record from which her views can be gleaned. Most of all, we're concerned that her nomination seems to have delighted Senator Chuck Schumer.

Conservatives fear that the specter of David Souter hangs ominously over both John Roberts and Harriet Miers since, like Souter, they both purport to be conservatives but also like Souter, we have no way of assessing the depth of their commitment to an originalist reading of the constitution. Souter has turned out terribly, and the trepidation among conservatives is due to the possibility that Roberts and, even more, Miers, may turn out likewise.

Perhaps. But the difference in the present case is that George Bush is committed, we hope, to putting constitutional originalists on the court. He also knows Miers very well. Unlike his father who didn't know anything about Souter, W. knows Miers' philosophy. Presumably, her convictions mesh with those of the President. If we believe his own judicial convictions and instincts to be correct then it is probably unwise to condemn him for his selection at this point in time. Conservatives have been disappointed by George Bush on more than one occasion, but in picking judges he's been impeccable and has, in our view, earned the benefit of the doubt. One is justified in withholding it only if one thinks that Bush is unprincipled enough to go back on his word that he wants conservative judges on the court. Whatever one thinks of Bush, however, "unprincipled" is hardly a fair description of his conduct in office over the last five years.

We think that much of the disgust and frustration expressed by conservatives over the Meirs pick derives from a desire for a resolution of the power struggle going on in the Senate. Conservatives want Republicans to apply the coup de grace to the floundering Dems who act as if they are still the majority party. Republicans, unfortunately, too often act as if they're still in the minority and seem loath to use the prerogatives bestowed by their majority status. This frustrates conservatives who want Bush to nominate a Scalia/ Thomas type justice and then dare the Democrats to filibuster.

In other words, conservatives are spoiling for a slugfest, but Bush prefers to beat the Democrats with finesse rather than brute force. That's what he did with Roberts and what he'll probably do with Meirs. He has taken something of a gamble, to be sure, but if both picks turn out to be more conservative than Sandra Day O'Connor then Bush will have succeeded in his goal of moving the court to the right without shedding much blood. Conservatives want him to fight like Joe Frazier, but he prefers to dance like Muhammed Ali. If he's confident of the conservatism of his selections then it's hard to fault him for his tactics.

The President has enough enemies on the Left. He doesn't need criticism from the Right unless we're sure he deserves it. On this matter we're not yet sure that he does.