- The Washington Times - Monday, October 3, 2005

Revealing tactic

Curt Levey, who was director of legal and public affairs at the Center for Individual Rights from 1998 to 2004, noticed that during hearings for Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr., Senate Democrats echoed Republicans’ longtime complaint about judicial activism.

“‘Judicial activism’ has long been a label conservatives use to describe liberal court decisions that seemingly elevate judges’ personal views above statutory and constitutional law,” Mr. Levey writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“The Roberts hearings confirm that the term has now become a favorite invective of Democrats. Sen. Ted Kennedy accused Roberts of being an ‘aggressive activist.’ Wisconsin’s senator Herb Kohl decried ‘judicial activists [who] have used [conservative judicial] philosophy to limit our rights and freedoms.’ And Sen. Chuck Schumer labeled Justices Scalia and Thomas as ‘activist judges’ on par with liberal luminary justices Marshall and Brennan.

“Many of my right-of-center colleagues found it maddening to watch those senators borrow the judicial activism charge and use it against conservative paragons of judicial restraint. But it’s unlikely the Democrats are fooling anybody. Their real concern is that Roberts won’t be activist enough to see the constitutional penumbras and emanations that support Roe v. Wade and, perhaps, a constitutional right to gay marriage.

“Democrats’ appropriation of the activist allegation should be viewed as evidence that proponents of judicial restraint are making headway. It is an implicit admission that this critique of liberal jurisprudence has proved effective. Moreover, the Democrats’ reliance on a ‘so are you’ argument indicates the absence of a defensible judicial philosophy on the Left. And, like former segregationists embracing civil rights, liberals’ calls for judicial restraint — no matter how insincere — are a sign that the times have changed for the better.”

Haunting Hillary

“Right as she steps up her 2006 re-election campaign, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will face new criticism stemming from a years-old event,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

Kathleen Willey Schwicker, who says she was groped in the Oval Office by President Clinton as she sought a job, tells us she is going to release a new book that slams Hillary for not stopping the White House spin machine from crushing her. ‘It’s not so much about the incident but about what they would do to an ordinary American woman,’ she tells us. ‘Hillary Clinton champions herself for female workers’ rights and for women, but she doesn’t. She didn’t support the women involved in all of Clinton’s messes.’

“Like: Retaliating for Willey Schwicker’s ‘60 Minutes’ appearance by approving the release of letters Willey Schwicker sent the president, after the alleged incident, in which she calls herself his No. 1 fan. ‘I just want people to know what it is like to be in their cross hairs,’ she says. Clinton’s office had no comment.”

Fall guy

“And so it came to pass this [past] week that official Washington got the event it most fervently desired. No, not the indictment of Tom DeLay. Not even the confirmation of the Supreme Court’s 17th chief justice. The big event was the ceremonial bearbaiting of the bureaucrat designated ‘responsible’ — a term of unique application in Washington — for the human devastation wrought by a Category 5 hurricane called Katrina,” the Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Henninger writes.

“‘I don’t know how you can sleep at night,’ Rep. Kay Granger of Texas hissed at Michael Brown, the pilloried, disgraced and disowned former FEMA director. The members poked him for hours. It was a good show.

“Mission accomplished?

“All that’s left of the post-Katrina political cleanup is for George Bush to appoint an avowed managerial superhero to ‘fix’ FEMA. Hey Jack Welch, wanna take this one on? Michael Brown accidentally spoke truth to power when he yelled back at his grandiose inquisitors, ‘I guess you want me to be the superhero.’ Well, yeah Brownie, don’t come to Washington if you can’t dream the impossible dream,” Mr. Henninger said.

“But didn’t we just do that with the Department of Homeland Security? When DHS was deemed ‘dysfunctional,’ President Bush in January gave the job to superlawyer Michael Chertoff. But at crunch time, a credentialed superhero couldn’t save DHS from complicity in the Gulf performance meltdown.

“A reality-check will reveal that we remain a government of men, not superheroes. A grimmer reality is that we remain a government of bureaucracies. The more serious question that Katrina lays before us, one no congressional panel will touch, is whether after 75 years of uncapped growth, our domestic bureaucratic system is simply too fat to answer the fire bell.”

Try, try again

Just days after it ran an editors’ note — under pressure from outside and within — that sort of admitted it had erred in a blast at Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera during the Katrina tragedy, the New York Times finally ran a full correction on Sunday, on its editorial page, for a miscue by columnist Paul Krugman, while announcing a new policy on noting errors on that page, Editor & Publisher magazine reports.

“Krugman had three times previously admitted getting wrong part of his Aug. 19 column about media recounts of the 2000 Bush-Gore race, but critics kept claiming that he still hadn’t gotten it quite right. Editorial Page Editor Gail Collins wrote on Sunday that it had turned into a ‘correction run amok.’

“After publishing his third correction on the Web, Krugman asked Collins, she wrote, ‘if he could refrain from revisiting the subject yet again in print. I agreed, feeling we had reached the point of cruelty to readers. But I was wrong. The correction should have run in the same newspaper where the original error and all its little offspring had appeared.’

“Collins also announced that the paper would henceforth be running regular corrections and ‘for the record’ explanations under the Times’ editorials. [Yesterday] she published several in the ‘for the record’ category. One notes that Krugman, Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich all incorrectly stated that former FEMA director Michael Brown went to college with his predecessor Joe Allbaugh. Another corrects where Mick Jagger made a certain statement about economics.”

Please shut up

“Senate Democrats are writing a letter to NOW and other liberal interest groups to get them to shut up for the next hearings,” New York Times columnist David Brooks said yesterday on NBC’s “The Chris Matthews Show.”

“The fear is that the liberal interest groups took credit for their own votes on the Roberts hearings,” Mr. Brooks said.

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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