Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pat Buchanan Channels James Watt

James Watt, 1983:
"I have a black, a woman, two Jews and a cripple. And we have talent."
Pat Buchanan, 2009:
Six nominees have been sent to Congress by Democrats since 1964: Thurgood Marshall, an African-American, four Jewish nominees - Arthur Goldberg, Abe Fortas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer - and one wise Latina woman.
It's hard to know what to make of Buchanan's thought exercise - although he nominally asks, "Why No Evangelical Justice?", his argument are at odds with the positions he recently articulated to Rachel Maddow. If I were to give him the benefit of the doubt, I would say that his essay is meant to illustrate the absurdity of Watt's brand of "diversity by the numbers", attributing it to his political opponents, then (ostensibly ironically) suggesting that it be used to advance a political agenda with which he sympathizes:
Republicans should now be searching for highly qualified Evangelical Christian judges and constitutional scholars, women as well as men - and, when falsely accused of being “anti-Hispanic” or “anti-woman,” ought to reply: “What do you liberals have against white Christians, man or woman, not to have named one in 45 years?”
The problem for Buchanan is that James Watt-style bean counting, and similar appeals to grievance against whites, are part and parcel of his entire intellectual career. Here he is in 1971:
My recommendation is now and has been that the Administration - in placing minority members in visible jobs — stop concentrating on the “media’s minorities” (Blacks, Mexican Americans, Spanish-speaking) which are tough to crack, almost solid Democratic — and begin focusing on the large ethnic minorities (Irish, Italians, Poles, Slovaks, etc.), the big minorities where the President’s name is not a dirty word, where the President’s personal beliefs and political actions are more consistent with their own.
In concrete terms,
[I]nstead of sending the orders out to all our other agencies - hire blacks and women - the order should go out - hire ethnic Catholics preferable women, for visible posts. One example: Italian Americans, unlike blacks, have never had a Supreme Court member - they are deeply concerned with their “criminal” image; they do not dislike the President. Give those fellows the “Jewish seat” or the “black seat” on the Court when it becomes available.
Buchanan is a living, breathing embodiment of his "ironic" argument, and there's little to indicate that he's ever favored meritocracy when it came to anything other than impeding the progress of minorities. Does he expect his readers not to know that? Buchanan alludes to his opposition to the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, ostensibly a matter of her being "unqualified", but where in his historic writings can we find any suggestion that he would not have found her to be qualified based on the same résumé, had she only been Catholic? Similarly, in relation to Sotomayor, had she only been conservative... and possibly Italian?

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