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August 16, 2005
John Roberts To Michael Jackson: Beat It

Hugh Hewitt points out this hilarious Dana Milbank article in today's Washington Post which may have played a part in the Democratic decision to moonwalk away from obstructionism on John Roberts. Papers uncovered from the Reagan administration shows that Roberts repeatedly advised the White House to keep their distance from the now-disgraced pop star, avoiding historical embarrassments:

Tucked in the thousands of pages of documents released yesterday from Roberts's time in the Reagan White House is a collection of memos by the young lawyer about efforts by Michael Jackson's publicists to get presidential flattery for the Gloved One. Without exception, future judge Roberts voted to overturn.

"The office of presidential correspondence is not yet an adjunct of Michael Jackson's PR firm," Roberts wrote in a memo to his boss on June 22, 1984, opposing a request by the singer's publicist for a presidential letter praising the star's work against drunken driving.

In opposing the wishes of Jackson, Roberts acknowledged that he was a voice in the wilderness -- but being a future Supreme Court nominee, he used the Latin. "I recognize that I am something of a vox clamans in terris in this area," he wrote, "but enough is enough."

Apparently Roberts underestimated his own abilities to influence White House staff through argument. Rather than a vox clamans in terris, he successfully turned back two attempts by the administration to latch onto the enormous popularity of Jackson. Roberts argued that such endorsements might never stop and that selecting the proper recipients would create more and more grief. Roberts even predicted that Twin Cities music legend and notoriously odd Prince would one day eclipse Jackson in popularity -- and that the Gipper probably would not much care to associate himself with the funk superstar.

John Roberts, cultural sage?

Of course, no one could predict that Jackson would one day face child molestation charges, at least not in 1984 before his full weirdness became public. (Roberts also preferred to use Latin phrases for his argument instead of snippets of Jackson's lyrics, a decision that Milbank would have done well to follow.) His clear and common-sense reasoning shows a flexibility for cautious reasoning and a clear sense of the administration's mission even when some of its staff didn't. And anyone who had the foresight to warn politicians off of Michael Jackson at the height of his popularity and the will to convince them of his foresight probably will easily make mincemeat of the puny and superficial attacks offered thus far to his confirmation.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 16, 2005 7:43 AM

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