Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Weakened Standard, II


Yesterday I observed that William Kristol seems to believe that President Bush is incompetent. His latest editorial suggests that Bush is weak and stupid (or is there another way to read this):
Would any of his aides have the nerve to tell him that as Supreme Court jurists go, Gonzales would be mediocre--and not a solid bet to move the court in a constitutionalist direction? Would any of them have the nerve to explain to the president that a Gonzales nomination would utterly demoralize many of his supporters, who are sticking with him and his party, through troubles in Iraq and screw-ups with Katrina, precisely because they want a few important things out of a Bush presidency--and one of these is a more conservative court? Would any of them tell the president that risking a core item in the conservative agenda for the sake of either friendship, diversity, or short-term political spin, would be substantively wrong, and politically disastrous?

Maybe. And maybe Bush doesn't need all these reminders.
That last sentence seems designed to provide him with some plausible deniability if he is confronted with the obvious implications of his rhetorical questions. But "maybe"? Leaving aside Kristol's assessment of Gonzales, which appears driven by ideology as opposed to evidence, Bush is well aware of what his supporters expect (and demand) for the Supreme Court. With friends like Kristol....

Bush's larger problem is probably not that he will forget to appoint a "conservative", but finding another Roberts - somebody whose philosophies he believes will satisfy both his politically conservative base, while simultaneously satisfying religious "conservatives" who expect his nominees to overturn Roe v Wade, to permit greater state subsidy of religious organizations and a greater role for religion in the public sphere, and to suppress, using Scalia's preferred phrasing, "the so-called homosexual agenda."

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