- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 21, 2005

A defining vote

The nomination of Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to the Supreme Court means “we’ll get to see Hillary Clinton and the other mainstream Democratic presidential hopefuls define themselves,” New York Times columnist David Brooks writes.

“This is going to be the first Supreme Court confirmation battle of the age of the blogger. Already the liberal interest groups, amplified by the blogs, are rolling out the old warhorse rhetoric. Already they’ve begun distorting Roberts’ record, selectively quoting from his opinions and insisting the Senate maintain the balance of the court (which never matters when a Democrat is president),” Mr. Brooks said.

“I suspect the Democratic elites would rather skip this fight because it has all the makings of a political loser. Anybody who is brilliant during Supreme Court grillings, as Roberts is, will be impressive at confirmation hearings. He is modest and likeable, and has done pro bono work on behalf of the environment, parental rights and minorities.

“But the Democratic elites no longer run the party. The outside interest groups and the donors do, and they need this fight. It’s why they exist. Hillary Clinton and the other Democratic hopefuls will have to choose between the militant wing of the party, important in the primary season, and the nation’s mainstream center, which the party needs if it is to regain its majority status. It will be a defining and momentous vote.”

Bush’s pitch

President Bush yesterday described the trade pact with Central America as a “jobs program” that would help the United States and its neighbors better compete with Asian economies.

The U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement faces a critical vote next week in the House, where some lawmakers fear it will kill jobs in textile-producing states. Mr. Bush said the pact would create a more level playing field for U.S. businesses, Reuters news agency reports.

He said the status quo puts U.S. firms at a disadvantage because many face steep tariffs on exports to Central America but there are few tariffs on goods sold from there in the U.S.

“Now I don’t see how a member of Congress can go back to his or her district and say [the current law] is a good deal for America when our exports to Central America face hefty tariffs,” Mr. Bush said in a speech to the Organization of American States.

Battered leftists

“The aftermath of the London terrorist bombings has demonstrated that the antiwar Left is severely afflicted by the political equivalent of battered-wife syndrome,” Ted Lapkin wrote yesterday, before the new attacks in that city, on National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“With each new beating, the scarred and bruised victims of spousal abuse tend to excuse and rationalize the actions of their tormentors. A stubborn unwillingness to accept the proposition that their partners are violent louts plunges these woeful women into a morass of self-deception that spawns only further violence,” said Mr. Lapkin, director of policy analysis at the Australia/Israel and Jew Affairs Council, a Melbourne think tank.

“The far Left has similarly proved unable to liberate itself from the web of rose-tinted delusions that it has spun about the nature of Islamic extremism. After each al Qaeda outrage, leftist ideologues are quick to castigate their own countrymen for a catalog of sins, both real and imagined. With a perverse combination of self-loathing and adoration of the enemy, the radical Leftist mantra preaches that if only we were nicer, the jihadists could not fail to love us. It’s our own fault if Osama bin Laden doesn’t realize what good people we are.

“And all the while, these ‘progressive’ academics, pundits and politicians engage in ridiculous intellectual contortions designed to mitigate the guilt of the terrorist perpetrators. When push comes to shove, some intellectuals believe that Islamism is simply an understandable reaction to what they describe as ‘Western imperialism.’ ”

Why they fight

“In the immediate aftermath of Bush’s nomination of Judge John Roberts to the Supreme Court, we witness an unusual dichotomy on the left and right,” Dick Morris writes in the New York Post.

“The Democrats, clearly on the spot because they had voted unanimously to confirm him to the Circuit Court of Appeals, are waiting for the hearings and the negative research to pull up past statements or opinions on which they can oppose the nomination,” Mr. Morris said.

“But advocacy groups on both sides of the life-vs.-choice debate are wasting no time in ginning up their e-mail and postal lists for the coming confirmation battle.

“Already the National Abortion Rights League and Moveon.org are rallying supporters to do battle, while Newsmax and other conservative groups are circulating petitions in the judge’s defense.

“We must treat the passion of those opposing Roberts with due skepticism. Advocacy groups have been waiting for a fight over the Supreme Court for a decade now and are determined to cash in on the opportunity it affords them to fatten their lists, add to their supporters and pad their revenues.”

Mr. Morris added: “Without a fight, they have no future.”

Solvency argument

The Free Enterprise Fund yesterday issued a strategy memo discussing the re-emergence of the stop-the-raids plan for Social Security, saying President Bush’s legacy is in danger if he insists on a plan that focuses primarily on solvency.

“Just as the campaign for personal retirement accounts was about to stall out, the House leadership and members of the Ways and Means Committee, along with 11 senators led by [South Carolina Republican] Jim DeMint, breathed life back into the effort,” Lawrence Hunter, vice president and chief economist for the group, said in the memo.

“Their proposal would stop the raid on Social Security and place the surpluses into personal retirement accounts without raising taxes, cutting benefits or hiking the retirement age.”

However, the White House top economic adviser said this past week that the president will insist on maintaining “long-term solvency of the Social Security system.”

The memo, which was distributed to all members of Congress, said: “If stubborn administration advisers and senators continue their will-o-the-wisp quest for solvency, the president almost certainly will lose his legacy on personal accounts.”

Very typical

“There’s no doubt in [National Public Radio] reporter Nina Totenberg’s mind that Judge John Roberts is ‘very conservative,’ it’s just a matter of how ‘very,’ ” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mediaresearch.org.

“On NPR’s ‘All Things Considered’ on Tuesday night, she prefaced ‘conservative’ with three verys, describing him as ‘a very, very, very conservative man.’ But in a taped soundbite on the next day’s ‘Good Morning America’ on ABC, she cut back to two modifiers, dubbing him merely ‘a very, very conservative man.’ ”

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com

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