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E.J. Dionne tries to restore sanity to the Left after watching NARAL squander their public credibility on a smear campaign -- and seeing few of his own side object to it. He gives what looks to be the first severe scolding by an unimpeachable voice on the Left to the pro-abortion contingent for the silence that discredited not just NARAL, but also the main force of the opposition to the nomination of John Roberts for the Supreme Court:
Fellow liberals, face it: The advertisement created by NARAL, the abortion rights group that opposes John Roberts's nomination to the Supreme Court, is outrageous. It ties Roberts to people who bombed abortion clinics. If this isn't guilt by association, I don't know what is. ...
You can consult FactCheck.org, a Web site run by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania -- not a haven for the right-wing conspiracy -- to find out all that is wrong with the ad. Just consider: Roberts filed the brief in question on behalf of the United States government (i.e., the administration of President Bush's father) in the spring of 1991, seven years before the Alabama clinic was bombed . The brief did not support clinic bombings. There is a difference between "bombers" and "protesters," as any civil libertarian knows. The Supreme Court, by a vote of 6 to 3, sided with Roberts's interpretation, and Congress then, rightly, passed a federal law aimed at preventing violence against abortion clinics.
Give Dionne credit. Most people who argued against these ads either did so because of the injustice of the smear campaign against Roberts, which includes all of the Right and darned few voices on the Left. Those on the Left who argued against the advertisement did so on the basis of expediency -- how it adversely affected the anti-Roberts strategy. Dionne so far stands alone on the Left (thus far) to argue both injustice and stupidity, and he does a marvelous job of it.
People have demanded more civility and less partisanship from Washington in handling policy and nominations. When Bush chose a conservative with enough flexibility and support to allow the Democrats to approve, or at least not blockade, what happened? One of their main special-interest groups launched a highly uncivil hatchet job on him, ratcheting up the temperature of the debate by injecting outrageous claims of bloodthirstiness on his behalf. Dionne points out the folly of then expecting a civil response from the White House on negotiations for disclosure and the proper bounds for questioning during the hearing.
Dionne doesn't mention this potential outcome, but it should also be obvious: the NARAL smear and its tacit acceptance on the Left will convince the White House that offering face-saving candidates to the Democrats wastes political capital. Expect the next nominee to explicitly come from the Scalia/Thomas mold as a result of this scurrilous attack and lack of specific disavowals.
I disagree with Dionne on his conclusion, where he argues for a Civility Compact. It consists of Roberts and the administration basically giving in to extortion to avoid smear jobs against him. It weakens his strong stance earlier in the piece on the injustice of NARAL's lies and innuendos. Those have no place in any fair political process, and potential victims shouldn't have to bargain to avoid them. Roberts and the White House should cooperate with the Senate on the same basis as the Clinton administration did for Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. That seems like a fair and honest standard for both the Senate and White House to follow, and should result in a spirited but civil and rational discourse -- followed by an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor.Sphere It View blog reactions
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» Dionne Takes On NARAL from A Knight's Blog
Liberal columnist E.J. Dionne, Jr. has a column in the WaPo today scolding the Left for complicity in NARAL’s libelous attack ad against John Roberts. Fellow liberals, face it: The advertisement created by NARAL, the abortion rights group that ... [Read More]
Tracked on August 12, 2005 11:12 AM
» Judge Roberts' Spokesmen from Hard Starboard
There's been a question resulting around in the back of my cranium over the past few days, and I think it deserves an honest, straightforward answer: If Democrat senators like Pat Leahy and Ron Wyden are going to keep putting words in Judge Robert... [Read More]
Tracked on August 13, 2005 7:23 PM
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