We Lose On Roberts

So, Leahy will vote for Roberts, after in his statement making a strong case against him. That's just fucking great. I'm not going to be eloquent on this one: get bent Senator Leahy. Anyway, this pretty much ends any hope of even achieving 34 No votes, which would have been the minimum possible requirement to claim victory and already be in a strong position to oppose the next nominee. We lost this one, and lost is pretty badly. I'm not going to have a detailed post-mortem on this one, but Liberal Oasis has a pretty good one:Sen. Min. Leader Harry Reid put the nail in the coffin of the already limp Roberts opposition yesterday.

He announced his personal opposition to Roberts, but it was empty posturing to keep the base in check.

He also announced that the nomination "do[es] not warrant extraordinary procedural tactics to block" it.

In other words, no filibuster and hello Chief Justice Roberts.

Furthermore, he removed any pressure on his caucus to vote No, predicting that Roberts will get "plenty of votes" from Dems and that the nomination is "something people have to vote their conscience on."

That's code for: "I'm not twisting any arms."(...)

But that doesn't excuse us from developing and executing a strategy for when there is a nominee with little paper trail, especially since that was and is a very live option.

The proper Day 1 message in that scenario is "No Blank Slates." Without a clear record of impartiality and respect for basic rights, you have not earned a free pass to a lifetime appointment.

However, such a message now will be even harder to execute, because the Senate will soon confirm a Chief Justice who was very much a blank slate when he was first nominated (and only slightly less so today).

And if the next blank slate is a person of color, attacking that person while passing on Roberts will be quickly and gleefully branded by the Right as racism from the Left.(...)

We can't be shocked that "plenty" of Senate Dems will vote for Roberts, because so little was done by liberal activists, pundits, bloggers, and politicians to create the conditions for a strong opposition.

If that doesn't change the next time around, we will badly lose again.

And Dubya, while at 40%, will have succeeded in further moving the Court to the Right, possibly for the next generation.

Read the whole thing. It is amazing that even when he is at 40%, we still can't mount a credible opposition to Bush and modern conservatism, otherwise known as whatever Bush does today.

Tags: Judges (all tags)

Comments

29 Comments

John Kerry Opposes Roberts' Nomination
Statement here: http://blog.thedemocraticdaily.com/?p=627
by Pamela 2005-09-21 08:06AM | 0 recs
Re: John Kerry Opposes Roberts' Nomination
That pretty much confirms a run for him in 2008.  Sigh...
by yitbos96bb 2005-09-21 09:08AM | 0 recs
What we should have done/ must do next do
The Dems got too tactical here and thus missed an obvious strategy. We were, rightly, concerned not to be drawn into an opposition that would be sound-bited down to "abortion" and which would have come across -- like it or not-- as shrill, while Mr. Rogers/Roberts would come across as a friendly neighbor. Why are those Dems always so crazy? That was just what Rove wanted and we did avoid that (and every other single-issue) trap.

But by the same token, the reason to be skeptical, question and eventually oppose Roberts (and certainly the next nominee) is that he simply lacked the lifetime experiences necessary to understand the problems that ordinary people bring to the courts to decide. A lifetime spent at at top law schools, top law firms and top of the Justice Dept prepares only to have ideological and political understandings of issues -- not ones based on our fellow citizens as neighbors, with whom we share a community and whose struggles, conflicts and goals we share together.

In other words, if you had a dispute with your neighbor or your boss or your ex-spouse and you needed it resolved, would you want a guy to quote you case law, theory and sound bites?

Where in Roberts' privileged life has he ever experienced real conflicts that are the basis of our adverserial ocurt system?

I wondered last summer if the Dems would have the stomach to attack him for being, well a lot like many Senators in his background and outlook, and I'm saddened that no one did.

The issue is not about where a nominee stands on any one case, its about what kind of people make up and lead our government and Roberts is not the kind of person who understands the issues and lives of others.

by desmoulins 2005-09-21 08:06AM | 0 recs
My greatest fear about the dems in DC....
is that they are still afraid to strongly oppose Bush on the issues. It is as if they have bought the Republican framing about obstructionism. I was speaking to my father a couple weeks ago about Bush's low approval rating increasing the democrats chances in the House and SEnate. We both concluded that on surface this seems to be good for democrats, but we were both pretty pessimistic about whether dems would even try to take advantage of it. I think the Roberts confirmation is just another sign that the democrats in DC are weak and out of touch with their base and the mood in the country. I don't know how much longer I can take the democrats capitulating on every issue for Mr. 40% approval rating.  
by tiberius 2005-09-21 08:07AM | 0 recs
Meanwhile on the Right...
Posted by Erick at RedState.org:

Despite Reid and some cry babies at that leftwing site, Roberts is going to pass. But, what it also indicates is that the Democrats are setting themselves up to pretend to be reasonable. The White House and GOP Senators already understand that the Democrats are going to fight like hell on the next nominee.

Note to Senators: There is absolutely no point in voting strategically on Roberts. Vote yes and you're obviously trying "to pretend to be reasonable." If that's the thanks you get for a yes, how much worse can the fallout from a no vote get you? At least you can say you stood up for yourself.

Hell, why don't the Democrats just refuse to vote? That's only fair after the White House refused to release documents and Roberts refused to answer questions.

by Scott Shields 2005-09-21 08:19AM | 0 recs
Roberts another Souter only smarter
i wouldnt fret too much here.  I am willing to bet you that Roberts turns out to be a great Chief Justice.  and i have a deep feeling he will turn out to be another Souter or better.  just watch.
by safford 2005-09-21 08:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Roberts another Souter only smarter
Unfortunately, due to his lack ofg experience and failure to answer questions, it will be a little while until we find out.
by yitbos96bb 2005-09-21 09:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Roberts another Souter only smarter
You know.  I've had that same feeling too.  I can't explain it.  Something about him.  I feel like he's been playing this game and once he gets there he'll turn out to be quite the surprise for the Left.  Perhaps I'm being delusional.  

By the way, I totally think he's gay and he knows it.  Bill Maher was right on the money.  Maybe that's what that feeling is.  He's been blipping on my gaydar...

by dayspring 2005-09-21 09:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Roberts another Souter only smarter
well he may be gay friendly.  he also is probably the most qualified person to be on the COurt in many a year.  i have had a good feeling about him from the beginning.
by safford 2005-09-21 09:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Roberts another Souter only smarter
me to or four.
by aiko 2005-09-22 04:25AM | 0 recs
What bullcrap!!!
We can't be shocked that "plenty" of Senate Dems will vote for Roberts, because so little was done by liberal activists, pundits, bloggers, and politicians to create the conditions for a strong opposition.

There was an UPROAR over the filibuster debacle yet certain persons in control of librul bullhorns called it a "victory" that LIEberman tied the hands of the Democratic Party... that is when Roberts fate was decided not today or yesteday.

Then there was an all out frontal attack "NOT" on Roberts or the GOP but * on NARAL* that engulfed the entire blogsphere by harboring on petty discrepancies of one NARAL endorsement witout regards to the decades of work they have done.

Combine that with a withering attacks in the blogosphere of anyone daring to make pro-choice "a litmus test"... or any single issue that Roberts is going to destroy...ie civil rights etc.

Then in the end a half hearted attempt to "lead" the rebellion on Roberts... on the matter of privacy.

So to blame the victim that has it's hands tied, bound and gagged that somehow we did not do enough...is really rich.

Not to mention the blogosphere COMPLETE LACK OF ATTENTION to civil rights and Roberts anti-affirmative action cases.

by Parker 2005-09-21 08:29AM | 0 recs
Re: What bullcrap!!!
Uh huh. . . What Parker said.
by bellarose 2005-09-21 04:45PM | 0 recs
Well Chris...
I suppose it gives progressives all around the country a perspective that we Vermonters have long known...

Pat Leahy, though a seemingly nice man, is a cautious creature of Washington. I believe he also voted yes on the partial birth abortion bill...

His most daring stand, however, was when he, as AG of Vermont, defended the practive of skinny dipping... He's also rumored to have pulled a gun at a poker game while in college... Not sure what that's about...

And there was that one time he leaked some stuff from the intelligence committee during the Reagan years, I think it was...

I also think he has been secretly behind some of the big defense and IBM contracts that come to Vermont, though his name is never associated with them. Does help the local economy to have the death merchants here, though!

He's OK, but never depend on him to follow the progressive line.

by Vermonter 2005-09-21 08:42AM | 0 recs
I don't see that he has
moved the court to the right on this one.  I doubt roberts is more conservative than rhenquist.  The key will be for the oconnor replacement.

Personally, I'm shedding no tears over these developements.  Bush was duly elected.  The people knew what they were getting when they elected him.  We have to respect democracy above all else.  If you have  problem with it, go talk to the nadar voters.

by Jonathan Schwartz 2005-09-21 08:44AM | 0 recs
The problem: None of us sees
One of my Bush-hating brothers expects Roberts will be okay. I said I disagreed about Roberts but I hope that I will be proved wrong. The problem is that neither of us has enough information to assess Roberts--he's getting a free pass and that's not right.  

My instinct says that Bush has done much to cause me to distrust him; why would his choice of Roberts be any different?

I also challenge your statement that "The people knew what they were getting when they elected Bush."  If that were the case, then his approval rating would not be 40% today. There's nothing about Bush that has changed since November 2004 but plenty of people have changed their opinion of him!

by sawgrass727 2005-09-21 07:29PM | 0 recs
Yet another cock up by the Dems
I'm starting to wonder if the Dems on congress have some sort of mental illness - I'm starting to think battered politician syndrome.  They're so afraid the Repugs are going to bash them, they back down on every important issue.  Every time they have a choice of standing up or not they choose not.  They haven't learned the Repugs aren't going to play nice - sure you gave 'em what they wanted but you are still a Dem so they consider you the enemy and a traitor.  You can't win anything that matters by compromising with bullies - and R's are schoolyard bullies who need to be taken down a step or two.  You compromise with them that means they'll start at the compromise point and push you back from there.

Our so called leaders must be so afraid to make themselves Republican targets they won't stand up for anything.

The base scared our "leadership" by loving Dean last year; then we bought off on John Kerry,  who is a fine man and better than most of the DC denizens but still an establishment pol.  A Republican woudln't dare betray the base - it's time Dems learn to fear their base as well.

We need to make 'em hurt, cause when it's bad enough, they'll change.

by glendenb 2005-09-21 09:11AM | 0 recs
Make them hurt?
Hmmm,

The base was PO'ed at the Dems in 2000, or at least 5-10% of the base was.  So they decided to make 'em hurt.  Some, despite their qualms about the Republicans, stuck to their convictions and voted for Nader, who represented their views better than the DC establishment Dems did.

In response, what have the Dems done?

Answer:
Lost to Bush twice (more if you count midterms)
Not put up any major resistance to Bush, despite his lousy approval ratings
Passed on Roberts despite his most obvious and easily identified flaw (lack of experience)
Allowed ridiculous tax cuts to be passed
Etc.

Boy, the Dems sure learned their lesson after the workers rights and environmental base left them in 2000.

by The lurking ecologist 2005-09-21 10:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Make them hurt?
I don't mean leave the party - I mean take it back from the "Play nice with Republicans" types - and yes that means Donna Brazile and Baucus and Utah's own Jim Matheson.  We need a long term strategy and we need to be willing to hurt our own - oppose them when they're voting for bad policies and cozying up to corporatist lobbyists.

Here in Utah, we have Jim Matheson.  He's not a bad guy, but he's a bad Democrat.  If there were a Dem majority, the only vote he'd be good for is Speaker Pelosi.  Since being elected to congress, he's voted against Dems more than he's voted with us.  With friends like that, who needs enemies?

The Republican base doesn't play nice with elected officials who refuse to drink the kool aid.  Why should we?  Look at the price conservatives have exacted from pro choice Republicans.  No national voice, no say in the party, tough and regular primary challenges - even if they survive the primaries and then manage to win, conservatives don't stop attacking them.  It's time to do the same with DINO's - again I cite Matheson.  I've voted for him because he's a damn sight better than any Utah Republican but he's still a bad Democrat.  I'd vote against him in the primaries if we ever actually had a primary challenge.  It's time to take our party back, to hold Democratic politicians accountable to Democratic ideals.

It's time to get rid of leaders who can't accept that the halcyon days of a "permanent" Democratic majority are long gone.  We need fighters who won't play the game of avoiding short term pain - fighters who know sometimes you get beaten but you don't give up.  I remember reading about an arch conservative who lost six elections before winning a seat on a school board.  Sounds crazy, but conservatives lost a lot of elections to get where they are - and they learned something from every loss and it wasn't how to compromise.  It was how to sway voters.  We need to do the same thing - our ideas are better, our policies our better, our ideology is better.  It won't be as hard.

by glendenb 2005-09-21 11:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Make them hurt?
Anyone named Matheson in Utah is going to get a free pass becasue any Democrat not named Matheson is Utah is going to lose, that simple.
by THE MODERATE 2005-09-21 11:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Make them hurt?
Which is what we've got to start changing.  Thirty years ago, Texas was considered an unchangeable Democratic stronghold - today's is the source of all that is Republican.  

I'm possibly under the influence of unreasonable optimism, but we can start winning Utah elections without the Matheson name.  And let's be honest, even if we don't it's not like we could do that much worse.  

Let's run an honest to god firebreathing liberal who is not afraid to talk about abortion, gay marriage, education.  Who is not afraid to actually go toe to toe with the Republicans on taxes.  Imagine this exchange:

Gov. Happypants (R):  The people of Utah need a tax cut.  It's there money.
Candidate Visionary (D): It's also our government and our community.  And we have a right to demand accountability and we have a responsiblity to invest in them so tomorrow's Utahns benefit from our wisdom.  Paying taxes is a patriot's duty.  Being part of the process is a patriot's duty.  Preparing for tomorrow's Utahns is a patriot's duty.

by glendenb 2005-09-21 12:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Yet another cock up by the Dems
I seriously agree with the battered politician syndrome.  Here we are, sitting at the forefront of what could be a massive political realignment since 1933, or at least 1980, an event so ovious that even MORTON KONDROCKE, ONE OF THE STUPIDEST PEOPLE IN WASHINGTON, HAS WRITTEN ABOUT IT, and our "leaders" in Washington are acting as if we receive any criticism from Republicans or the MSM, it will be our political destruction.

We are so used to getting beat up by the Republicans that we dare not think that the "Emerging Progressive Majority" (to steal a phrase) is right there in front of us.

by Andy Katz 2005-09-21 01:04PM | 0 recs
Choosing the mystery box
I'm wondering whether we really need to engage in much hand-wringing about the specific number of no votes. It seems totally arbitrary to declare 40 no votes a victory and 30 a loss, because anything less than 51 is still a loss, and I seriously doubt that Bush is going to say to himself either "Uh oh, there were 40 no votes, I'd better nominate Ramsey Clark next time!" or "Heh heh, they only got 30 no votes, so I'm going to nominate Roy Moore!"

OK, Roy Moore is a bit hyperbolic, but if Bush nominates Janice Rogers Brown or Priscilla Owen or Edith Jones -- all candidates who have sufficiently long judicial track records and previous public pronouncements to give undeniable grounds for opposition -- we're still not going to defeat them through a party-line vote, only through a filibuster. And we have the exact same moral authority to filibuster them regardless of whether we get 25 or 40 no votes on Roberts. The filibuster would either succeed or fail because of the whims of the members of the Gang of 14, not because of the specific number of votes that Roberts got in the full Senate.

Most likely, though, for the O'Connor seat, we'll get a replay of Roberts, i.e. some stealth candidate who's way down on the likely list of replacements who's unquestionably a partisan conservative but, for lack of a paper trail, it's unclear just how conservative. The sad thing is, it'll probably work again, because for the more cautious Democratic senators, I think the rationale is that assenting to a roll of the dice on a blank slate candidate (where it's unclear where on the O'Connor-Kennedy-Rehnquist-Scalia spectrum a candidate falls) is a better bet than picking a fight, accidentally detonating the nuclear option, and then later on getting someone like Brown stuffed down our throats on a party-line vote.

For some reason, it all reminds me of "Let's Make a Deal," where if you're faced with a prize you know you don't want (like, say, a really ugly living room set), a rational player will opt for the mystery box. Except here, you have the possibility of filibustering the mystery box... but successfully filibustering the mystery box will, in all likelihood, just get you another mystery box... and if you lose the filibuster fight, you're just going home with a case of Turtle Wax.

by Crazy Vaclav 2005-09-21 10:11AM | 0 recs
Bingaman to vote yes
on CSPAN 2 right now
by ben114 2005-09-21 10:28AM | 0 recs
Goodbye Democratic Party
Well, this is it.  I should change my nickname in here, because I no longer consider myself a Democrat.  Yes, if I had the chance, if I lived in Massachussets I would vote for Ted Kennedy, probably for John Kerry.  I live in Michigan and will vote for Carl Levin, a reliably progressive Senator.  I'm undecided on Stabenow or Granholm, although I would prefer either to Republicans.

However, with the latest example of cowardice by the congressional Democrats in capitulating on the Roberts nomination, and not fighting it tooth and nail with a filibuster, I am over with the rest of the Democratic Party.

I will vote for the Greens, the Socialists, anyone who takes on this Fascist Republican puppet regime in Washington.  Good progressive Democrats like the above just mentioned will also get my vote.  

The sad thing is that the Democratic party on thw whole is just Republican/Corporate party #2.  It no longers proposes progressive policies, it is content to stay in muted opposition and play defense when a ruthless offense is needed.

Harry Reid said he would oppose the nomination, but other Democrats should "vote their conscience."  For a major party leader in the Senate, that is a signal to his caucus that no action will be taken against any member who votes for Roberts, an extreme, rightwing corporatist stalking horse if I ever saw one.

After 3 generations of strong Democrats in my family, starting with my immigrant Polish grandparents landing here on Ellis Island, I can only say to the Democratic Party- I didn't leave you, you left me to become a Republican/Corporate rubber stamp for this fascist regime.    

by MichiganDemocrat 2005-09-21 12:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Goodbye Democratic Party
I understand what you are saying and I think about changing my party registration almost every day.  By way of background, I am not a "naderite" or a "green."  I am a rather old fashioned "Robert Kennedy" liberal.  I was generally happy to vote for Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton (in 92), Gore and Kerry.  I didnt vote for Clinton in 96 because of his signing the "deny poor people a hand bill" (aka welfare reform).  But I never thought of leaving the party until recently.

Ultimately, I have stayed because I still believe that the Democratic Party is the best vehicle for progressive change in America. WE have had times before where we as a party have buried our Progressive instincts (e.g. the whole period from from the post civil war to the ascendency of William Jennings Bryan). But the progressive wing always reasserts itself eventually.  I am hoping that this will happen again.

One final thought.  I dont think that the MAIN problem right now is corporate influence, though that certainly exists too.  The main problem is a total lack of courage.  For example, Pat Leahy seems like he's pretty progressive.  He's just a doormat.  And I dont think that there was some secret meeting where the corporate heads passed the word to the Democrats in Washington saying "you have to vote for Roberts or else".  I just think the Dems are petrified of seeming to be "too partisan" by Republicans and the MSM.  We just need some politicians with some guts and convictions.

by Andy Katz 2005-09-21 01:21PM | 0 recs
Leahy can't get a break...
First Cheney tells him to "go fuck yourself" and now Bowers tells him to "get bent".
by progressiveliberaldem 2005-09-21 12:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Leahy can't get a break...
Well not that Leahy cares what I say, or that it will make the headlines.... But Senator Leahy, GO FUCK YOURSELF!  The least you could have done is shut the hell up and surprised us all... you fucking worthless piece of shit!  

I feel better now.... not much, but a little better!

God I wish there was a party I could believe in!

by wmkrayer 2005-09-21 03:52PM | 0 recs
Remember the Anthrax Attacks
Recall that Senator Leahy was the target of an anthrax attack in the fall of 2001, the same time that Senator Dashele received his anthrax.  Recall also that Senator Wellstone died in an airplane crash.

It's always Democrats who are on the receiving end of these attacks, so one cannot blame Senator Leahy for being cautious.

by John M 307 2005-09-22 01:35AM | 0 recs
Why should Reid oppose Roberts?
Don't they both agree on abortion and other issues? Isn't the real question why is a republican the leader of the Dems?

We don't just need to "decapitate" the republicans, but a number of the Dems as well.

by peterbernard 2005-09-22 09:42AM | 0 recs

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