- “He’s a scholarly man; he has a good education; he has been recommended by legal authorities; he has a good record in lower courts.” – President Bush
- “This decision had the advantage of being acceptable to conservatives, plus Democrats won’t be able to attack him. There is nothing to grab a hold of, to whack him on.” – An administration official
- “Virtually every conservative who knows him trusts him and thinks he’s a competent guy.” – Newt Gingrich
- “[He] has voiced opposition to many forms of abortion. He dislikes affirmative-action programs, contending that they amount to reverse discrimination. Also, he has vigorously defended … the Lord’s Prayer in its public schools.” – Los Angeles Times
- “He is a remarkable intellect and he’s had great experience and he’s had wide knowledge, and you all would enjoy an evening or more with him.” – C. Boyden Gray
- “This guy is a complete S.O.B. of a conservative and you can’t prove it.” – P.J. O’Rourke
- “When you look at the man’s record, his experience, his integrity and his ability to deal with tough questions of law in a way that the courts should, in a restrained way, not to attempt to legislate from the bench, I think he’s a man in tune with the times.” – Dick Thornburgh
- “His view is: ‘Here’s what it says state government can do – and if it doesn’t say it can do it, then it can’t do it.’” – Lawyer who argued cases before the nominee
- “[He] seems to be a judicial conservative, what we call a constitutional constructionist. … That’s satisfactory with us, if that’s true.” – National Right to Life’s John Willke
- “He is a ‘stealth nominee.’ … The right’s not yelling; the left is trying to yell but can’t find much to yell about.” – Bob Beckel
- “This is a home run.” – President Bush’s chief of staff
He is David Hackett Souter, only the most recent reason Republican presidents – especially Republican presidents named “Bush” – have lost the right to say “Trust me” when it comes to Supreme Court nominations.
The other reasons are: Earl Warren, William Brennan, Harry Blackmun, John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy.
Like John Roberts, Souter attended church regularly. Souter was also touted for his great intellect. He went to Harvard! And Harvard Law! (Since when does that impress right-wingers? So did Larry Tribe. It is one of the eternal mysteries of the world that liberals are good test-takers.)
At least when Souter was nominated, we needed a stealth nominee. The Senate was majority Democrat back then. The Judiciary Committee consisted of eight Democrats and six Republicans – two of whom were aggressively pro-abortion. A year later, faced with the same Democratic Senate, the current president’s father nominated Clarence Thomas. Who would have thought the current Bush would be less macho than his father?
Roberts would have been a fine candidate for a Senate in Democratic hands. But now we have 55 Republican seats in the Senate and the vice president to cast a deciding vote – and Son of Read-My-Lips gives us another ideological blind date.
Fifty-five seats means every single Democrat in the Senate could vote against a Republican Supreme Court nominee – highly unlikely considering some of those Democrats are up for election next year – along with John McCain, Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins and Lincoln Chafee. We would still win.
Of course, it’s possible that Roberts will buck history – all known human history when it comes to the Supreme Court – and be another Scalia or Thomas. (And we’ll hear this news while attending a World Series game between the Cubs and, oh, say … the Detroit Tigers.)
That will not retrospectively alter the fact that Bush and all the other Zarathustra Republicans cheering for Roberts haven’t the first idea what kind of justice Roberts will be right now. They are telling us their hopes and dreams.
I share their hopes and dreams! I also hope it doesn’t rain in August. I’m not throwing out all my umbrellas, and I won’t be “proved wrong” in that decision even if the rain never comes. This is a fact: Right now, we don’t know.
Republicans are desperately trying to convince themselves that Roberts will be different because they want to believe Bush wouldn’t let us down on the Supreme Court. Somewhere in America a woman is desperately trying to convince herself that her husband won’t hit her again because he told her “things are going to be different this time.” (And yes, that woman’s name is Whitney Houston.)
Bush said “Trust me,” and Republicans trust him. It shouldn’t be difficult for conservatives to convince themselves that Roberts is our man. They’ve had practice convincing themselves of the same thing with Warren, Brennan, Blackmun, Stevens, O’Connor, Kennedy and Souter.