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View Diary: SCOTUS: Actually, We've Already Won (350 comments)

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  •  Sigh (3.96)
    This diary is so obviously correct that it pains me to see how many dissenting views there are.  After seeing so many comments in the last 12 hours along the lines of "Roberts is the worst nominee imaginable," my mind has sort of become numb.

    Look, folks, when people say "elections have consequences" that is not the same thing as saying the Democrats must roll over and accept every outrageous action until 2008.  We didn't accept the destruction of Social Security.  We didn't accept John Bolton.  There are plenty of fights we can win.

    But there are good losses too, and this is the concept that many refuse to accept.  You can lose in a way that makes people sympathize with the principle you fought for.  You can lose in a way that sets the stage to make a compelling case later.  If you send a clear message to the American people that "we oppose Roberts because X will happen if he is confirmed," and then X does happen, now you have your campaign issue for 2008, 2012, and beyond.  "Elect Democrats so we can roll back X and make sure it never happens again."

    Right now, we haven't agreed on what X is.  It might be Roe v. Wade, it might be destruction of environmental laws and other protections, it might be a lot of things.  I will guarantee you this: if the Dems don't settle on a unified message, if it ends up being the same old shotgun approach that "Roberts will outlaw abortion, birth control, favor corporations over people, destroy the environment, reverse the civil rights movement, etc." it's not going to get us anywhere.  We need a straightforward argument that people can understand, and we can use in future elections, not a boundless rant that says Roberts is the spawn of Satan who will destroy everything good about America.  Fortunately, we have over a month before the confirmation hearings, time we can use to get the message straight.

    I don't get why people don't understand that there can be a "good" loss, or at least a productive loss.  How have the Republicans gotten into power?  By campaigning against every liberal accomplishment of the last century.  They are not afraid to take our victories and turn them into campaign points, and it wins them elections.  We need to do the same, unless we believe the Republicans never pass a bad law.

    Imagine yourself as a wingnut for a second.  What would you think about Roe v. Wade?  You'd probably consider it the biggest disaster ever.  Oh no, the Supreme Court ruled that there's a constitutional right to murder unborn babies!  But rather than saying "that's it, we lose, end of the world" the Republicans built an electoral strategy around it.  It wasn't easy, because their position is the minority, but they used it as a rallying cry for their base, they employed a legislative strategy that involves poking around the edges and creating wedge issues, and they gained political ground because of it.

    We should be upset any time one of our precious freedoms is lost, or any time one of our hardwon liberal gains is rolled back, but remember, we are not just a bunch of helpless victims, we are the activists here.  We can be smart about it and use those defeats to craft a winning strategy for the future, rather than living day by day counting up losses and wins depending on how today's voting went.  We are supposed to be the ones driving the Democratic Party towards a winning, progressive agenda; so let's get to work.

    •  A maiming kick (4.00)
      in the testicals is better than castration.  The bombing of the World Trade Center is better than worldwide nuclear war.  The melting of the polar ice cap is better than global warming.  All of that is certainly true, but how are maimed testicals, a blownup building, or a melted polar ice cap objectively good because they aren't castration, nuclear war, or global warming?  

      C'mon.  I think a diary entitled, "Thank God, George Bush Didn't Nominate Hermann Goring," is about as appropriate as calling Robert's nomination a "victory."

      First things first, but not necessarily in that order.

      by DCDemocrat on Wed Jul 20, 2005 at 09:12:47 AM PDT

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    •  This is (none)
      a high quality post, and makes many good points, but I think one point of disagreement is whether the nomination of Roberts in and of itself constitutes a victory.

      I don't think so. He may well have been chosen over Luttig because he is even more conservative on business-related issues, though Luttig is more conservative socially.

      People on both sides are also making a mistake in not considering Bush's next appointment. Originally it was thought Rehnquist would retire and there would be two nominations at the same time (or nearly the same).

      Bush benefitted from Rehnquist's delay, because he can replace O'Connor with a solid conservative sold as a "moderate," but then replace Rehnquist with a super conservative, arguing that pick doesn't change the court's composition.

      And generally speaking that is correct. The real problem will be if Ginsburg or Stevens retires, one of which is very likely before 2009 (and there's a small but real chance both do).

    •  Sorry (4.00)
      I just can't support the view that because the Repubs won the election, getting a staunch conservative who'll be on the bench for 3 or 4 decades is a victory because he isn't a lunatic fringe conservative. Oh hurrah.

      This position supports a business as usual attitude, which is what infects many, if not most, levels of the Democratic Party and its elected officials. It seems almost impossible to convince the biz as usual crowd that the nation, if not the world, is in dire straits, facing unprecedented problems that need a passionate and unyielding response.

      Imagine the difference if the Dems in the Senate were to unite and oppose this nomination and state unequivocably that they won't support ANY nomination Bush makes until and unless the administration owns up to lying about the Iraq war, fires Karl Rove and levels with the American people. Ah, but that would be true opposition party tactics and as we all know, a good half to 2/3 of the Party's elected officials and "consultants" advocate going along to get along while appeasing their corporate donors.

      To counter a dangerous, extremist administration, you need to overturn the apple cart -- something the powers that be in the Dem Party apparently have no stomach for. Instead, let's celebrate non-victories by concocting some process-heavy analysis that shows things could be even worse than they are. Bah.

      •  Business as usual? (none)
        The point of my comment was not that this is a loss or a win.  Indeed, focusing on that definitional issue really misses the point.

        The point is that no matter what you call it, this is an OPPORTUNITY.  Every bad thing the Republicans do can and should be used to help us win future elections, if we handle it the right way.  If we don't handle it the right way, and we let the opportunity slip away, that's a loss by any definition.

      •  Sympathetic to your outrage (4.00)
        ...but you ignore the key fact that we do not have the strength to overturn the apple cart.  We can scream and bluster and moan all we want and it won't do a lick of good.  Republicans have the votes to confirm Roberts and the American people are not going to look at Democratic screaming and taunting and say, "Yah, I want me some more of that!"

        Look, if tomorrow we find dirt on Roberts that could derail his nomination then we should use it.  But as it is, there is nothing about him that isn't true of every Republican Senator in Congress.  We don't have a super majority in this country who will turn on Roberts simply because he is a staunch conservative.  If we did, we wouldn't be in this mess in the first place.  That is what, "Elections have consequences!" means.

        Now, that doesn't mean we give up or don't oppose Roberts at all.  It just means we do so in a dignified matter while we acknowledge the reality that the man will be confirmed absent some shocking revelation.

        "... the Republicans have fucked reality so hard they need a physics professor to straighten them out." -- hamletta

        by manyoso on Wed Jul 20, 2005 at 09:31:32 AM PDT

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        •  I'm not (none)
          I'm not talking about screaming and blustering and moaning, I'm talking about using this opportunity to state calmly and unequivocably that we won't approve ANY nominee or anything else that we can stop until and unless the Bush administration comes clean and stops stonewalling on how and why they started the Iraq war and the dishonest and even criminal ways they fostered support for it.

          The point is not if we can win on votes or not -- the point is that Dems take a courageous stand on the future of our democracy. Are we supposed to wait until we have the votes to "win" to strongly take a stand and call the administration on their dishonesty and criminal handling of intelligence? We'll be waiting a long time.

    •  Elections do have consequences (none)
      And the elections that elevated enough Democrats to the Senate to filibuster judges who are out of the mainstream and will turn our constitution on its head should have consequences too.

      I'm not going to like any nominee Bush comes up with.  And Roberts is not the worst possible nominee.  But he's not a lot better than almost anyone else mentioned.

      What's the advantage to this guy?  What can we console ourselves about?  What positions does he hold that we can take solace in?  I don't see any.

      He's not a moderate and that's the only kind of judge I feel the Senate should confirm.

      •  Consequences (none)
        of having 44 seats in the Senate and not having the White House is that you can discourage the president from picking the looniest member of the loony bin. That worked. Bush apparently considered, but did not choose, committed extremists for this nomination.

        Only confirm moderates? We don't have the numbers to make those kind of demands. If that gauntlet was thrown down, and a filibuster was attempted, we would lose the cloture vote. The 44-seat Democratic caucus contains DINOs like Landrieu and Lieberman, remember -- they will not vote to filibuster Roberts or any similar nominee. Neither will the RINOs like Chafee vote to filibuster -- IIRC Chafee has voted for nearly every Court of Appeals judge Bush has nominated, even though many are farther to the right than John Roberts.

        Should we make the point that Bush is placing a very conservative judge on the court, and that this is why Democrats need to work harder to win elections and why people who care should vote for Democrats? Absolutely, yes. But we do not have the leverage to successfully demand the appointment of another Harry Blackmun.

        This is how liberty dies... with thunderous applause.

        by socal on Wed Jul 20, 2005 at 11:56:32 AM PDT

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        •  So you fight and lose (none)
          You exhaust every remedy you have.  You fight.  You fight so that when the next election comes around and you want to say that you'll fight to preserve mainstream values, the people believe you for a change, because they saw you do it.

          And the Harry Blackmun comment is a strawman.  First of all, it's a strawman, because Harry Blackmun began his career so conservatively that he was called a "twin" to Justice Berger.  Secondly, Harry Blackmun ended his career significantly to the left of any sitting justice.

          I would tolerate a Lindsey Graham, or a justice like O'Connor, and we have every right to demand one.  We may not get one, but if we fail to demand one, then we deserve to keep losing elections.

          When did we become such damnable cowards?

          •  Lindsey Graham? (none)
            From what I know of Graham's record, he would be no better in terms of his Supreme Court votes than John Roberts. He is at least as conservative philosophically.

            There is a strong possibility Graham would be more dangerous because Roberts, I believe, will feel significantly constrained by stare decisis (as Rehnquist has -- e.g. Rehnquist's opinion for the court affirming Miranda) while a non-judge politician like Graham would, like Clarence Thomas, blow up every precedent he disagrees with if he can get five votes to do so.

            This is how liberty dies... with thunderous applause.

            by socal on Wed Jul 20, 2005 at 08:41:13 PM PDT

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    •  So youi like the taste of crumbs (none)
      This nomination demonstrates the only concession the Senate Democrats "won" through the so-called "compromise" to avoid the nuclear option is stealth SCOTUS nominations that will give them political cover when they refuse to filibuster them.  

      "Well, we didn't know enough about him to vote against him," they can say after Roberts murders Roe v. Wade on the SC.  The Senate Dems are rehearsing this script now, even some of the best of them: Kennedy, etc.    

      Arguing that a stealth nomination to SCOTUS is a Dem victory because it's not an in-your-face nomination is like arguing that the Japanese weren't really defeated at the end of WW2 because they got to keep their emperor.  

      Obviously the Democratic Party has grown fond of feeding on the crumbs

      •  Did you read my comment? (none)
        My point was that this is an opportunity, and more than just an opportunity to win or lose a single confirmation vote.  If you see it as a simple win-or-lose proposition, then guess what, the odds are stacked against us and we will most likely lose.

        But it's about more than that.  None of us like living under a Republican-controlled government, but we're supposed to be about finding a way to change that.  Part of finding a way means taking the things the Republicans do, the bad things, and fitting them into a dialogue where we explain to the American people why their way is bad and ours is better.

        Nowhere did I suggest that we should just put this one in the win column and go about our business.  That would get us nowhere in terms of retaking power.

    •  asdfads (none)

      "To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is
      not the highest skill. To subdue the enemy without
      fighting is the highest skill."
      ~ Sun Tsu ~
      The Art of War

      Every man for himself.

      by JLFinch on Wed Jul 20, 2005 at 07:07:48 PM PDT

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